Jobless in Berlin and Still Trying to Make it

photos: Roger Sabaté.

Close your eyes for a second.
Imagine a 28 year old who has just moved to Berlin. She lived here some time ago, but could not find suitable work and returned to her country of origin. She promised herself that one day she would come back and conquer the city.
Five years later, she is back here, this time not as a cleaning lady but as a project manager. She feels safe from any crisis in the job market, she has a solid game plan and money to spend. New shoes? Sure! Techno night every weekend? Bam! Eating out all week? No problem!

Now take a one-minute break. Or maybe take a break forever. Can you? Can you suspend it forever, please? Because what comes next is the infamous reconstruction of the “Contagion” which has taken away all my dreams and my hopes. Yes, that carefree adult was me, so stuck in my capitalist privileges, that being laid off completely crushed my world.

At first I cried. I made plans, I made sacrifices to get there. I changed my approach to business life and it paid off in the form of a stable source of income. Finally, I felt safe. Now all of that is thrown away, and complaining about a lack of money to eat in a restaurant is just the tip of an iceberg.
So I thought – come on, it can’t be that bad. Let’s try some LinkedIn. Let’s try some Facebook groups. You are smart, you have a nice little CV and you have a certificate or two. You have that, the power of girls, yes …

A month and a half has passed since then and the only thing that has happened to my career has been an endless repetition of “We decided to go further with other candidates”. I could write a book with rejection emails only. All these phrases echo in my head which begins to be a room for self-doubt. I am 70% sure that I am really poor. Staying sane is really difficult, my savings are getting smaller and smaller, but while I’m looking into space, I really don’t want to give up on my Berlin dream.
You all understand, my immigrant compatriots – let’s say that your country of origin is a pleasant place, but it certainly has its problems.

So what am I really doing to survive this year-long nightmare? Glad you asked! I have a lot of techniques for staying afloat, or at least keeping my head above water. You too can use some of the best advice from the top of human existence.

1. I stopped drinking

First of all, before rethinking my career, I had to rethink my relationship with alcohol. It’s difficult – it lets you stop worrying about your life, but the next day you wake up and even if you have to look for a job, you’re already too tired. I stopped drinking almost completely when my teeth started to hurt a lot, because of an old treatment for the incomplete root canal, but I found that it could also help my wallet and my productivity. Plus, when I was sad all day and all week, I couldn’t find my happy place after two glasses of wine.

2. I returned to sport after rejecting it for a while

What pathetic, not funny and obvious advice you can think of. Yeah, it’s pretty basic, I know! When looking for a job, I was constantly tired and mentally exhausted. Feeling that your brain is closed for the day because of all the worries is simply the worst. So I decided that I wanted to be tired from real action and decided to start running again. After finishing my first round at the Volkspark Friedrichshain, I was not only exhausted but also, for the first time in three months, I had a feeling of accomplishment that I could not achieve by being constantly rejected by various companies.

3. I rewrote my CV

So yes, what is the next step after becoming a top athlete? Definitely check your CV. In one of the Facebook job groups, someone offered a free consultation regarding the form of your CV. I did it and it turned out that my CV, which I thought was the best, the smartest and the funniest, was actually a trash can. It was too long, too colorful and too much information that could cause recruiters to be overwhelmed by all of this. I would not think about it, I just wanted them to know everything about my fabulous career! I ended up creating three new CVs, with a different scenario for different positions. I started sending it this week, so no results yet, but I expect my phone to keep ringing soon.

4. I start writing again

The biggest dream of my life was to become a writer. I kept pushing him away because I didn’t have time or I didn’t want to. The coronavirus forced me to admit that I’m just lazy and afraid of failure, but since I have a lot of free time now, I can try too. It didn’t change my professional situation, but at least I have a first invented novel, and it’s something worth the wait! Yay!
So, if there is one passion that you wanted to follow for a long time, but that you have rejected – perhaps this is really the time for it? Now, I look like this internet coach, but yes, it is definitely worth considering.

5. I wrote a poem.

And it is not I who become a poet – I have already written three articles on how much I am looking for a job. In order not to bore my audience, I had to be creative the fourth time. In addition, if there is perhaps a literary agent in one of the Facebook working groups who would be good to attack them already… So I wrote a poem.

I know it’s silly and probably not good at all, but hey – this post was very successful! I have 25 likes!

6. I changed my approach…
… And I went back to cleaning.

Yeah, this one was tough. Difficult, because being a cleaner is hard work. You cannot sit on a comfortable chair and pretend that you are doing something and that you are secretly watching “Best of Keeping Up With the Kardashians”. It is difficult because all the certificates were designed to place me in another category of workers. It’s also difficult because pride is really hard to swallow – but once it’s gone, I feel a lot better.

So here I am, a few more years, but starting from the same point – always cleaning and always dreaming of conquering the city. Maybe the gods just don’t want it to be easy?

Anyway, I read somewhere that consistency is the key, and I guess this will be my last thought and my last piece of advice – because this time I will be consistent and no crown will stop me. I’m going to conquer you, Berlin, one way or another. You must beware.

Text: Martyna Poważa, Photos: Roger Sabaté

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by Guest author
June 23, 2020
in the stories

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