Nothing ruins a meet-and-greet so much as the dreaded question: “So, what are you doing these days?” when you’ve got nothing to say but, well, nothing.
I know this to be true, for I myself have been the victim of (shudder) unemployment in a recent turn of events. It hits like a ton of bricks, leading to a seemingly bottomless pit of black holes that forever hold our future. At least that’s the vision that’s haunted me in recent months.
Whatever the reason, when the capital “U” storms our lives, we crumble under the wreckage of words like failure, incapable and hopeless. We lose all sense of self-worth, self-expression and self-dignity. And we are completely unrecognizable in its wake.
It has happened to me, and I know it has happened to you or someone you care about. Without going against the purpose of the piece and sounding too pessimistic, I have yet to see an end in sight for this epidemic of unfortunate career-world mishaps.
For this reason, I think it’s valuable and essential to realize there are in fact positive outcomes from getting the boot, blindly changing careers or looking for that first foot in the door after graduation.
Here are five things that I’ve found can make the time away from work a little less daunting and a lot more rewarding.
1. Exploring your interests. Without the endless projects and tedious commitments of your former 9-5, there is both new-found time and mental space to consider what it is you would love to do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to work with people, give a hand to the environment or pick up on an old hobby you were once passionate about pursuing. It could turn into a part-time job, a volunteer opportunity or even a brand new career. It is never too late to start over.
2. Reconnecting with family and friends. By having the “luxury” of minimally stress-filled days (aside from self-induced panic, of course), you will be more open to the lives of others you may have taken for granted. You can spend time catching up, getting involved in once overlooked activities or gatherings and really growing close with the support system you’ve created over the years. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by people that love and encourage you, you can more than make up for lost time.
3. Reflection and “you” time. This has been and always will be a struggle for most people, including myself. If the choice of unemployment was indeed yours, self-contemplation is key to figuring out where you want to go next and what will truly make you happy. On the other hand, if it wasn’t, this gives you the chance to consider new options that may better fulfill you in ways you would have never realized in your former position.
4. Making changes. Whether you’ve been looking to kick an unhealthy habit, make more of an effort with your spouse or kids, or once and for all write that tell-all book you’ve been plotting for years, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. A shift in perspective, an attitude adjustment and previously unknown freedom are the building blocks to finally take the plunge into something desirably different and creatively extraordinary.
5. Appreciation. In the first stage of unemployment, your life will come to a halt…and I mean stop. It’s an exhausting process, an emotional experience full of what-if’s and I’m-not-good-enough’s. But beyond this initial stage, you will learn to step back, appreciate the many things you do have and channel all that pent-up frustration into relaxation, to breathe, to make a step forward. It can be an eye-opening occurrence in which we come to see it doesn’t have to be the end of the world and that there is more to life than our job title.
Hopefully the above tips can help you as they’ve helped me: a glass-half-empty kind of girl growing into a believer of the best in a bad situation.
An aspiring writer, fashion enthusiast and lover of all things yoga, dance and green, Jamie recently ended a far-too-short glimpse of the world spending her days as an English teacher and soul-searcher in Madrid, Spain. She is completely fascinated by languages and cultures and won’t be satisfied until she’s seen it all. And so it begins.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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