Another thing I take from your post is that you might be missing some computer skills. Try to remedy this. Everyone tells me CAD skills aren’t necessary, yet after I mastered CAD, I never had a problem finding a job again. So, they are important skills. If you are missing them, learn it and do a project that showcases your ability.
cryzko, take Mr-914’s advice to heart. When I wandered off into “private practice” I wasn’t able to keep current with software development; hard to do when you are self-employed and the budget is tight; programs are pricey, off-site training even more so. But you must do this.
You really need to get out there an network!
keep pushing. I think only a small number of us creatives became successful on talent alone. Most of us had to bust our butts toiling away on poorly paid or unpaid projects (either in school or afterwards).
I’m a great designer, but as a business-guy … mmmm, not so great; beating my own drum, so to speak, doesn’t come easily for me. If you don’t promote yourself … who will?
Build on your strengths. One of your’s is that your skills are diverse; perhaps you should look at carving out a niche where you can work with other shops and offices (Architectural, ID, Interior Design, et al.) as a pinch-hitter; let office principals know that you are available to fill-in for vacationers, man extra-effort projects, sub-contract for certain aspects of projects, etc. It wouldn’t commit an employer to hire you fulltime, and would offer them the opportunity to see how you work.
And don’t beat yourself up about not finding a job; I don’t need to tell you, the economy is tanking. You may be in a more stable position right now than if you "seek a regular life and work a regular job… " I view it this way; as independents we are always looking for the next “job”, and will never be unexpectedly laid-off for lack of work. If you need some extra cash, work a side job to get you through; no dishonor in that (maybe a little mental anquish, but that goes away when the bills can be paid). College-education or not, we all have to do whatever it takes. i.e.: it’s apparent to me that you wouldn’t have any problem finding a spot in a high-end cabinet/furniture shop…
Independent employment isn’t always a comfortable way to make a living, but once you understand that the wolf may be at the door, but isn’t allowed to eat you, it allows you the freedom to explore life. Regretfully, it took me a long time to realize that we should work to live, not live to work; and for “designers” this is often an inseparable characteristic.