The Real Shit

Surviving Unemployment

unemployed1I was recently reading this article by Refinery 29 called How to be unemployed (without going crazy) and it got me thinking about my long stretches of unemployment throughout my life.  The longest one was just recently.  Unemployment to me means when you’re not gainfully employed by a company or have a steady stream of income.  The article highlighted a very important point about unemployment; contrary to what you might think about being unemployed (enjoying long days with no plans, sleeping in late, going to lunches, etc.), it can feel very isolating and scary.  When I first became unemployed, it was a major life decision I made to take some time off and rediscover myself.  It was supposed to be a liberating time and something that I was in control of.  The opposite was true.  I was terrified.

I live in Midtown Manhattan where everyone around me was heading to the office with coffee in hand.  I would see co-workers walking to get their lunches together during lunchtime and I would yearn for the days when I too had coworkers.  For the first time in my life, I had all the time in the world but I felt like a lost soul.  The point of the article was to get you to realize that sometimes being unemployed is out of your control so you might as well make the most out of that time.  This extra time might be just what you needed to make your next move or rediscover your dream.  During my unemployment time, I got to travel all over the world, I took classes that I’ve always wanted to take like photography, sewing and cooking.  I spent quality one-on-one time with my family members who all have odd hour jobs.  I got plenty of rest and for the first time worked out every day and made my health a priority.  But I have to say that the most important thing that came out of my unemployment was that I was able to refocus on what I really loved, how I wanted to spend my days and where I wanted to be.  I believe that I would’ve figured it out eventually but I figured it out faster because I had the time to focus and to get in a zen state of mind.

In the beginning, unemployment was very scary and I felt like an outcast.  People would always say things like, “oh you’ll find something,” “what do you do for a living?” “oh you’re unemployed (insert pity face here)?”  I grew bitter and angry anytime someone would mention jobs or unemployment.  Why is that the first thing people always ask anyway?  I quickly changed the way I thought about unemployment because not everyone gets the opportunity to “figure it out.”  Not everyone has the time and the means to do so.  So unemployment turned out to be a blessing.  Like I said before, I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have had the chance to do.  I learned new skills and I learned a hell of a lot about myself.  I had a short stint as a baker/caterer and realized it wasn’t really for me.  I would never have done any of these things if it wasn’t for unemployment.  Now, I do miss those days of creating my own schedule, reading books, taking strolls through Central Park and getting into places without lines.

My advice to all of you out there who are unemployed, don’t give up and keep up the job search but see this time as an opportunity for you to do all the things you otherwise wouldn’t have time for.  Start working out, take classes, travel, meet up with old friends and family, read books, go gallivanting, rediscover your city.  Don’t just sit on the couch and watch TV, get out there!  Before you know it, you’ll be fully employed again.

  • kim kim

    I hear ya. As a teacher, the most terrifying thing is leaving your current job and not having the next one lined up yet by the time summer begins. That was where I was this spring. Fortunately, I found a dream position just 2 weeks ago. But those few weeks of uncertainty between knowing I had to leave and finding the next thing was horrible. It’s also tough because most teachers at a new job don’t get their first paycheck until well into Sept. So if you haven’t saved enough to tide you over for 4-5 months, you’re kinda screwed!

    • Congratulations on your dream job! I’m so happy for you 🙂

  • Hi!
    I was surfing on The Cake Bar Pinterest and I arrived on your blog following a recipe.
    I’m unemployed since April, I was reading your article, ’cause I’m at this time where I’m scared and I feel pretty lonely (well, I’m not here to explain how I feel 🙂 ). It’s good to know that I’m not the only one to feel that way, and thanks to you, I remembered that I never visit the Louvre (it’s free for unemployed people and I live in Paris, shame on me). So, instead of staying at home (unfortunately I can’t travel for now), I’m going t visit one of the most famous museum in the world.

    Thank you from Paris !

    • How wonderful to have found your comment! I’m so jealous you live in PARIS!!! Keep on dreaming xoxo

  • Katherine Kok

    Thankyou for sharing this Laura. I have been unemployed for seven months now. Partly out of choice and partly not. I became seriously depressed when I couldn’t find something I wanted. I have always been inderpendant and finding a job has never been so hard for me. But I am now in a better frame of mind about being unemployed. It’s like you said. I now have the freedom to explore the things that I didn’t have time for before. I am also so blessed to have a supportive partner and family however of course they will be happy when I eventually do land a job:)

  • missbuttercup

    Hi Katherine,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Oddly enough, I wrote this a while ago but it still rings true today because I recently quit my job (by choice). Just always remind yourself that this time is temporary and to see the glass half full. Lots of love!

    Laura