Unemployment for Workaholics

I try to keep my Wednesday posts centered around something work related. And since unemployment was a major component of my work status this year, I wanted to take a post to talk about the joy (and the nausea, dissatisfaction, uselessness, and potential depression) that comes with unemployment.

Most of the people I’ve known my whole life were (and still are) hard workers. They are people that are stingy with their vacation. They are people that haven’t taken serious time off since high school. My last real vacation before my unemployment was the summer between my freshman year and sophomore year of college. I took one summer class that lasted four weeks but the rest of the summer I spent reading in bed, exercising, and visiting the Oregon coast.

I had ten days off between my college graduation and my start date. I used those ten days for a frantic trip abroad and a move halfway across the country. After that the longest vacation I ever took was the holiday shutdown we received (zero complaints about that perk by the way) between Christmas Eve Day and New Years.

So to face a workless span of time with no end in site was both thrilling and horrifying for me. I was so incredibly excited to finally have a vacation. A real honest to goodness nothing to worry about vacation. Unfortunately I struggled with the nothing to worry about. I found plenty of things to worry about. I take after my mom after all.

I’m not saying every day was a struggle. But instead of embracing this time I was so looking forward to, there were days I passed wallowing about the unemployment (that I chose to enter) and staring blankly into space.

I’ve always known that I’m the kind of person that needs just the perfect amount of stuff going on to be as efficient as I can. I remember in college every time Greek Sing was over I freaked out at all the free time I would have. Suddenly my perfectly timed system was going to have all this blank space in it and knowing myself I knew I would fall into laziness. I knew I would have to invest that time in another goal or else my whole system would fall apart and I would turn into this useless gray blob that wouldn’t get out of bed.

So if you’re unemployed. If you find yourself stressing and dry-heaving and having a panic-attack (or seventeen of them) instead of embracing and basking in the peace and calm, then take advice from someone who’s recently been through it. Don’t turn into a blob! Find something that you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time for and do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t freak out about whether or not it’ll help your chances of ever finding a job again. Because truth is, once you’re employed that time you have now will be gone again. This is your chance. Embrace it!

And also call me up because I’ve heard I’m pretty freaking good at calming other people down. I think it’s because I’m so freaking bad at calming myself down!

Update: I have given some serious thought to this post since publishing it. I published it in a rush, not in my typical write, then type, then retype format and I think it got away from me. There are several people that I’m close to in my life right now that are currently going through unemployment, all of their own choice. It’s hard for me to watch because I so recently went through the struggle myself. This post was supposed to give some real tips on how to approach the day-to-day life of being jobless. I think the main things that kept me going (other than having a tangible goal) was keeping a (not-strict but still) schedule, making sure to get out of the house (often I’d just go to a coffee shop to get some work, reading, or applications done), and honestly having a dog. Having a dog forced me to keep a schedule even when my not-so-strict one fell apart. Being a puppy, he needed me to walk him and feed him and take care of him, and that forced me to keep my head above water on days I otherwise wouldn’t have. So everyday I knew I had a few things that I HAD to do (take care of Ozzie) and then there were a few things that I kind of needed to do, and a few things that I kind of wanted to do, and slowly I would build tasks into my day that would make it so that I had a full day of activities. I think this singular achievement is what makes me still miss unemployment. Once I embraced it and learned to build my life around it, I became as busy (if not more so at time) as I am while employed. But I was busy with things that were entirely of my choosing. Still, I love being employed. I LOVE having people to see and chat with every day. I actually enjoy my job because it requires so much interaction. But I’m just trying to show that with the right approach, unemployment doesn’t have to feel pointless or useless or dire!

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