Are you reading this and wondering to, “Hmm. I wonder what’s so great about not having a full time job anymore?” Maybe you feel like there’s a big career change heading your way or maybe you just plan on standing up in your building and shouting “I CAN’T TAKE THIS SHIT ANYMORE!” and you’re wondering what you’re gonna do with the new lifestyle that awaits you.
Have no fear, my friends! Since I have been unemployed for a whopping 42 days, I consider myself an expert when it comes to all matters of “DEAR GOD HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME?” and “HOLY SHIT, HOW WILL I FEED MY CHILDREN?”
Take a deep breath and read on for some helpful tips on how you, too, can cope with the tornado that’s about to obliterate your life.
Enjoy the Stillness
This will be a great time for you to relax and unwind!
No more annoying work emails, texts or Google chats to juggle. Just pure, deafening silence and the overwhelming feeling that nobody needs you or your pesky skills anymore. Great news! You’ve just become completely irrelevant!
Sure, you may get a text or two that first week from your old coworkers who are looking for one of your old files, but don’t worry. Their silly questions will soon cease, and you will be left with nothing but a dark abyss of suffocating quietude.
Bask in the Free Time
With all your new free time, you can do crazy things like Google “Is quietude a real word?” or “How much do people actually pay for a classy escort who refuses to make eye contact and only agrees to touch shoulder to shoulder while fully clothed?”
Sometimes I’d spend my time lying in bed, but not filling my day with sleep. Psh! No way! That’s when all the nightmares come back! Instead I’d chose to stare into my open closet and think about all the chaos existing right in front of me.
There was a scarf that was about to fall off the top shelf. I could get up, fold it back together and place it where it needed to go, but why? Would the scarf actually appreciate all my hard work in the end or would it just unfold itself eventually and slide down to the floor like a spineless mother fucker?
With the entirety of your day completely at your disposal, you can do new things you’ve never tried before like drinking whisky at 10am, smelling your area rug to see what tears smell like or taking a walk to check the mail but only with one eye open to see if being partially blind would be worse than what your life has become now.
Chase Your Dreams
Sleeping can become a whole new activity after losing your job. What was once a time for peaceful rest and relaxation, occasionally peppered with a whimsical work dream or two, can become a productive session of hashing out all your inner fears, worries and frustrations.
Didn’t get to tell your boss what an awful poop face he was before you left? Don’t worry! You’ll relive the moment when you learned you were no longer a good fit for the company a hundred times over when you’re brain tries to shut down and get some rest!
Sleeping pills can be helpful, but remember that your inner demons only become stronger when fed mild narcotics and now your boss will be looking at you with three beady eyes, wearing that truly awful sweater you’ve always hated and rolling his eyes at you while you corner him in the dream-Pita-Pit to tell him what an asshole he was to you.
Instead of tossing and turning in bed and remembering all the good times you and sleep used to have, try getting up in the night and starting a vigorous activity. Tripping over your personal belongings box that HR lovingly collected from your desk is a great way to heighten your awareness of your new reality.
Let those stubbed toes and bruised shins remind you that you no longer have to deal with your favorite pen cup being locked up in a far away office. It’s right there in your room, along with your old notebooks, your oatmeal bowl, your stupid badge reel and that bold colored Sharpie you used to use to sign everyone’s birthday cards with. It was so festive! It made your birthday wishes POP right off that damn card every time.
Take a Risk
You know that dream job you’ve always wanted? No, not the one you used to have that gave you such purpose and confidence in your life. I’m talking about the new dream job that pays you in real United States money that you can use to buy paper plates with.
No more will you be focusing on an unattainable fantasy job. Soon every job posting you read will become an unattainable fantasy that will only get your hopes up while encouraging extreme narcissistic behavior as you stare at your resume and all your past career accomplishments day in and day out.
These postings will also trigger inner conversations with yourself where you may ask, “Am I too old to become a welder?” or “Where the hell is my nearest welding school? If I become a welder, can I customize my own mask? Wait a minute, if I become a welder, will I also have to be an exotic dancer to make ends meet? When will Target start carrying wide-necked gray sweatshirts again?”
Sometimes you’ll find a job you’re actually qualified for and begin to think that maybe all this happened to you for a reason and that reason is so jolly, old you can actually do a job where you’re appreciated, valued and can grow your skills.
You’ll cram yourself into old career wear that hasn’t been out of the under-the-bed box since 2009 and think to yourself, at least if I’m unemployed and have less money for food I may get to lose a few pounds.
Maybe you’ll wow the interviewer with your tales of wild event marketing success or masterful task organization. Maybe then some other candidate will come in and wow them even more and you’ll get that super-fun phone call where you get told that they’ve decided to go with someone else.
It’s gonna be fine. Just think. You weren’t finished with season 3 of “New Girl” yet anyway! Now you can REALLY apply yourself to crossing that task off your list.
Appreciate What You Have
If you’ve been working at least six months for a place that didn’t pay you in car wash coupons, you’ve most likely accrued a little unemployment money to draw on. What better way to get acquainted with all the in’s and outs of your state government than to attempt to wrestle away a mere 52.9% of your former salary from their cold, dead hands?
Even after you certify that you are not a seasonal farm worker or disabled veteran, there will still be plenty of opportunity for you to question where your meager funds are actually being delivered and what horrible cardigan will Ms. Tiffany, the employment placement specialist, will be wearing today?
You will have lots of chances to visit your local EDD office and ask yourself if you look just as crazy and disheveled as ol’ Wall-Eyed Tim who was once a maintenance man, or Man-ish Grannie Who Doesn’t Have Access to a Computer so she needs help getting online to print out a form.
This is what desperation looks like and you will soon realize that these have now become your people. No longer will you recap your kids’ baseball tournament for your standing desk neighbor or talk about how short that weekend felt with your friendly co worker. Now you will get to talk about which 1-800 EDD phone number works best at 8 am versus 8:15 and if you’re lucky, Tiffany will give you a free manilla folder for your paperwork because she’s worried you’re gonna lose something and that makes her nervous.
The manilla folder will be the thin, cheap kind that isn’t brightly colored or even freaking TABBED like the ones in that one drawer at your old office. But don’t let your mind go there. Just thank Tiffany, insert your paperwork, and stride away with your head held high.
Savor Your Relationships
This season in life will be like exposing an angry nerve ending to all the people around you. You may need a little practice with keeping your cool.
If a neighbor casually approaches you while you’re holding a 6-pack of pineapple cider and a wheel of Brie, just admit the fact that you are now unemployed. For the love of God, do not cry in street. It’s only 10:30 and you have a lot of “New Girl” to get crackin’ on. Your neighbor will understand and totally not think you’re a crazy person. I promise.
Your friends and old coworkers may text you to check up on you. Be careful not to overwhelm them with all your free-time deep-thinking . Many of your friends are still working full time jobs and they won’t understand you when you ask things like “Why does this hurt so bad?” and “When will the darkness just take me away?”
If you get the chance to run into your old coworkers, be cool and collected. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT grab their lapels, shake them wildly and demand to know who’s been sitting at your desk. Your old desk does not belong to them. They can’t stop the dumb-dumb loser-heads from sitting in your chair and getting their greasy mitts all over the pile of “Employee Good Job Shout Outs” you left behind.
Simply smile and exercise your new skill of stealthily changing the subject whenever anyone asks what you’ve been up to. Trust me. They don’t really want to know how you cried when you watched Nick and Jess break up and Nick called her on the phone to ask her about Dirty Dancing and please God, can you just climb into the TV and live with all the roommates on “New Girl” because you know that you’d only be out of a job for like, 5 episodes, then you’d get a call on your wacky-cased cell phone about this great opportunity and everything would be ok.
Remember That — Everything’s Going To Be OK.
If not now, later, and if not later, then eventually when you’re dead or too old and senile to care.
Even if you’ve lost your job, your confidence and a large portion of your self-worth and dignity, remember that time will still move on. You may spend a large portion of it feeling sorry for yourself or questioning why the bad guys got to win, but you can’t change the past. All you can do is hunger for a future where your life has meaning again. Like they say, “Keep moving forward!”
Honestly though, there are people rooting for you and pulling for you. Even if it’s just because they’re sick of always having to pay for lunch or tired of having to give you a pep talk again about how not awful at life you are…they really do care.
Be good to them and remember to thank them for always cheering you up, giving you good hugs and buying you manicures and margaritas.
High fives from the debilitating quicksand pit of unemployment and self-doubt! Let’s make this season the best it can be!