You just got out, so, I know, you want to take a couple of days to just be. You want to relax and decompress. You need a few days of uninterrupted peace to get your mental house in order. Do that. Go ahead. But after those few days, you need to get moving. You’ll find that the following 3 things are like the pre-requisites to all of your next steps.
1. Get An ID Card. I’m talking about a real ID from the DMV, the ones “normal” people have, not that old, tattered prison ID with a mugshot type of photo and your super-serious don’t-ef-with-me facial expression. NEWSFLASH: Your Prison ID Is Not Cool. I know that it’s a “state issued” ID and, yeah, you can use it to show proof of your name and age, but, I’ll tell you, not all “state issued” ID’s are created equal, and your prison ID is downright inferior. When I got out at 25 years old, after serving 9 years in prison, I wasn’t thinking about how my ID looked to people. I was whipping that thing out all over the damned place if I needed to. I mean, it works. Truthfully, a prison ID should be nowhere on your list of “Things To Worry About,” but trust me, at some point in the future you’re going to look back and ask yourself, “Was I really going around town flashing a prison ID?” And you’re going to be embarrassed about it, just slightly, but embarrassed nonetheless. Save yourself that little tad bit of shame. Make an appointment at the nearest DMV, and bring your birth certificate, social security card and proof of residence.
2. Fill Out Applications. Okay, you’re thinking, “I just got out. Who the hell is going to hire me?” And yep, there will certainly be those times you get turned down for the job because of that background check. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. But this isn’t news. You knew, even before you were released, that this was going to happen. Don’t act like you thought “Hard Time in Prison” was going to look good on your resumé. I’m making light of it, but I know that being rejected for a position because of your past can be a huge source of discouragement. I’m telling you to fill out applications because I know the fear, dread and lack of confidence that ex-cons experience when they’re sitting in front of a job application. You probably haven’t had much practice with filling out job applications, especially if you went to prison at a really young age, so, with those sheets in front of you, with all those questions, and THAT question jumping out at you, you’re going to be tempted to turn away and run, but don’t. Move forward, continue, answer the questions. You’re going to feel like a stranger in a strange land, but it’s imperative you learn your way around the application process. I promise you, as with all things, familiarity leads to comfortability. The only way to conquer a demon is to face it over and over again. Fill out those applications, over and over again, until it’s automatic, until you no longer feel that fear and dread that comes along with it, and that’s when you’ve broken through, job or no job, I promise, you’ll be in a better place than when you started. You see, the application process forces you to look at yourself and your situation. It forces you to accept yourself the way you are, sordid past and all. And after you accept yourself, then you can value yourself, and you’ll force others to do the same. The whole process is about much more than just securing a position of employment.
3. Get A Cell Phone. People are going to need to contact you. Potential employers, family, friends, probation officers, are going to need to get in touch with you. Make sure you’re accessible. And you’re going to need to reach out to people. You’ll need constant access to your e-mail. You have an e-mail account, right? I mean a professional sounding e-mail. A potential employer may not want to offer you a job if your e-mail address is ISecretlyMurderPeople@gmail or BigJohnson69@yahoo. You’re phone will have a calendar to keep track of applications you’ve completed and interviews you’ve gone on. It’ll have a feature that allows you to keep important notes. It’ll have an alarm, to wake you up and to remind you of important dates. It’s like a computer in your pocket. Enough though. You get it. You need a cell phone. Make sure you get one.