A Self-Portrait Of Unemployment

Is this really me, or is it Memorex? Or just someone in need of a break from the job search grind over the Christmas holidays?(Permission is freely given to distribute this photo)
Is this really me, or is it Memorex, or just someone in need of a break from the job search grind over the Christmas holidays?
(Permission is freely given to distribute this photo)

“David, are you okay?”

“You look tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”

We all get comments like these from time to time. I usually dismiss them depending on who is saying them or what the circumstances are. If a former co-worker said that to me, it’s either Thursday and I can’t wait for the weekend to start or I’m in a project where lots of overtime was required. If it’s from a friend, it’s the same friend I met yesterday on a Saturday night to do the usual thing guys like to do on a Saturday night — within moderation of course! This is a family-rated blog after all! If it’s from my mother, it’s a scripted thing mothers often say, even if you have glowing pink cheeks and a healthy aura around your head. Mothers, and God bless them all for that, never stop worrying about whether their children are eating properly or getting enough sleep.

Recently, however, it’s how often I’ve been asked this question that has made me less dismissive. I need both fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve been asked about my personal state over the past two months by friends, co-workers, and family members. I look in the mirror and see nothing wrong, and since I’ve lost over 40 pounds since January 2010 by having a proper breakfast with cereal (McDonald’s Egg-McMuffin on my way to work was not breakfast!) and climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, I’m in better shape now than when I was working at my last job for 17 years.

The problem with that kind of self-study is that it’s not objective, it’s in fact prone to error through personal bias. While I realize I no longer have the nice head of hair I had during my days in college, I didn’t think I’ve changed that much since then. As I found out later, I was lying to myself in the way we all do while preening in front of the mirror.

It’s been said the camera adds a few pounds to a person, but it’s more accurate to say the camera shows those extra pounds our inner eye of vanity prevents us from seeing. While I haven’t had many pictures of me taken this past year by others, I have done a number of videos since the start of this blog with my trusty Logitech webcam and still have those videos on my hard drive. With those videos at hand, I made a few still-frame captures representing a time period from February 2012 to now.

What I discovered after looking over those still pictures was shocking.

This first capture was from my first set of videos posted on my Google+ page, before my blog was started. I still had my beard, all nicely trimmed. At the risk of sounding like a peacock, I look pretty good in the video.

The next capture was my first time uploading a video to YouTube, and was featured in the blog post “Lights! Camera! Hire me!”  in April 2012. Again, I think I did a great job with that video, but in comparison with the first still capture, I have lines on my forehead that I don’t remember seeing.

Fast forward to September 2012 with the Begslist video I did about getting help with a Mobian cyst. This is long after I shaved off my beard (as a suggestion made by someone) to see if it would help with the interviews. When I saw this video, I thought the reason why I looked so tired was because I no longer had a beard, and also because I took my glasses off to show the cyst on my eyelid, causing me to squint. On closer examination of the capture, I noticed bags under my eyes, a change in the color of my face, and the sagging around my nose. Even with the glasses on in my “1000” video at the end of September, 2012, those changes I noted above were there.

This is a current picture of me as of December 21st, 2012 and it’s clear I’ve gone through some changes in my appearance. I’ll admit the past year was a tough one when it came to looking for work. This year was the most active I’ve ever been in both applying for open job positions and attending interviews. I know I am not ill, as I feel perfectly fine, but I think what is happening is the job search, which in itself is a job, and worrying about money is catching up with me. In a nutshell, the job search is wearing me down physically and mentally and I just need to monitor the effects of that more closely.

Perhaps the next time a friend or family member asks me if I am okay, I should turn on the camera to get a second opinion.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. This is my final blog post for 2012, so I can spend time with friends and family this holiday season. To those of you who have followed my blog up to now, or even to those who just stumbled across this by accident, I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ll talk again in 2013.

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