You’ve spent your life in prison for around one or two decades. During that period, you lived your life in complete isolation from society, not knowing what was happening outside the prison walls. There were many horrendous experiences that you have gone through, like waking up regularly at 5 in the morning, eating awful food with a plastic spoon and fork, being abused by power-tripping officers and prison dwellers, and many others.
Now, you were given your parole. Congratulations! You feel great and excited! Finally, you can spend time again with your loved ones, eat anything you want, and enjoy the freedom that was taken away from you the moment you were put behind bars.
But wait a moment, what’s next? Perhaps you would have questions like, “I wonder if my family and friends would still accept me?” “What will I do when I get out of prison?” “Will I get a job?” “What if I just start a business?” These questions would haunt you and make you feel anxious during your remaining weeks in prison. There are mixed emotions of bliss and fear. You are now thinking how to survive after prison.
It is natural that you will feel a bit worried about this. The anxiety that you feel is not new. There will always be the apprehension because of so many factors. For one, you anticipate how society will treat you once you are back. The word “ex-convict” might put you down, but fight this feeling off. Two, you feel that the changes through the years have affected your family and friends. Your family has spent birthdays and Christmases without you; there were members who were born and there were those who died. For most of these important family affairs, you weren’t present. But those aren’t reasons for you not to get excited about coming home.
Don’t worry and put those worries away. There is certainly hope for you to survive once you are reintroduced in society. So cheer up and stay positive!
Here are four simple things that you can do to survive life after prison.
1. Join organizations for people who were reintroduced in society.
There are definitely organizations which would help you cope with after you were released from jail. Joining a group would not only help you ease your anxieties but would help you expand your network as well. You can listen to people who lived their life gracefully after being released from prison. You may also find some ideas on how you can get a job by talking to ex-prisoners who managed to get it through. By mingling with these people, you can make yourself feel encouraged and inspired. You can also get the support that you will need apart from the ones that you get from your loved ones.
These organizations usually help other ex-prisoners to feel better and lead better lives. When you are a part of these organizations, it will almost feel as if they are your family. They host activities, talks, and other programs that are meant to help ex-prisoners.
2. Join clubs to socialize and feel accepted.
Your first few days or months outside prison could be a period of adjustment. Meeting new people in clubs that share the same interest with you like playing music or dancing would help you feel accepted once again. Not only that, but you also get to enjoy what you love to do, and at the same time, boost your self-esteem. So go and meet new people! Have a new set of friends and work with them in various tasks. Because you just got out of prison, the best recourse is to stay away from trouble outside. Join clubs that would be for your own good, or that would help you develop certain skills. It will surely take time for you to get into the groove, especially when you introduce yourself to people. You might receive the usual shocked expressions or sometimes even the condescending look from other people. Don’t let them get to you. What’s important is you are back on your feet again.
3. Expand your skill set or study again.
Learning new skills and getting degrees would not only help you boost your confidence but would help you increase your chances in the job market. In case the job market is too competitive, you can use these skills to start a business. You can offer services to people close to you, build a portfolio, and market yourself to people. In prison, you probably participated in certain certificate and livelihood programs. These programs were meant to give ex-prisoners a new life upon release. You can use what you have learned in prison to earn money. For example, you were taught how to weave baskets or to make home decors. You can make this your business and earn profit.
You could also try looking for a job. Although the competition is tougher on ex-prisoners, there are still employers who don’t care about your past, but instead want to help you regain your life. Change your old ways and start rebranding yourself. Build your portfolio or earn additional skills that would add to your credentials. Rest assured that you will be able to land a new and better job despite being an ex-prisoner.
4. Trust in yourself and have faith.
Nothing can beat the power of will. Once you believe in what you can do despite your past experiences, bad or good, you will definitely get through life’s difficulties. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” Fears are inevitable, but of course, you are a lot bigger than your fears. Hence, trust yourself and get ready to face the world again! Remember that being in prison was just one stage of your life. Now that you have been given another chance to prove yourself, don’t let your family and friends down. Explore what else the world could give you and you will realize that life is not just about passively watching what happens; it is constantly full of adventure and you have to act and be responsible for it.
Remember, the bottom line in your preparation for life outside prison is this: Everything will be okay.