How to Be Unemployed

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A couple of summers ago, after finishing grad school, I went through a three-month period of unemployment, where it felt like every day was a battle to maintain my sanity.

I soon found myself maintaining a particular routine, just to try to keep some structure in an otherwise long, purposeless day. If you ever find yourself unemployed, I highly recommend following a similar schedule. May the Job Force be with you

10:00–10:30 – Wake up and force self to get out of bed. Whine and moan a lot.

10:30–11:00 – Eat breakfast. Chew cereal angrily.

11:00–12:00 – Swim laps in the apartment pool for no other reason but to kill time. Pretend THIS guy is in the water with you to make things more interesting:

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12:00 – Try to convince yourself to shower, so that you can get the chlorine out of your hair. Decide that you don’t care if your hair turns green. You’re THAT hardcore.

12:05-12:30 – Shower.

12:30-1:00 – Get dressed, but not in real clothes. When you don’t have a job, you can wear any stupid thing you want and it doesn’t matter. You should take advantage of that!

1:00 – Sit down to the computer to start job-searching for the first time that day. Pray to the Gods of Employment to show a little mercy on you. Consider performing some sort of séance or animal sacrifice to please the gods and increase your luck.

1:05-2:30 – Apply for stupid bullshit jobs that you have no desire to do, but you’re running out of money and people keep asking you if you’ve found a job yet, and every time they do, a little part of you dies, and you can feel yourself losing your grip on sanity and you just want a fucking job, so you just keep searching, and you keep editing your resume until you hardly recognize it anymore, and you keep applying for shitty ass jobs you don’t want to do. Because that’s what grown-ups do.

2:30-3:00 – Weep all over your fancy-framed diplomas.

3:00-4:00 – Watch a little daytime TV on one of your three channels, because you can’t afford Netflix or cable. But you refuse to watch that Dr. Phil pseudo-psych bullshit, because he’s the worst. Even while unemployed, you still have your standards.

4:00-4:05 – Groan some more. Try groaning in different areas of your house to see how the acoustics change.

4:05-5:30 – Throw on the stained t-shirt that you’ve worn for three days in a row, and go out to run your daily errand. (Even if you have multiple errands to run, you can only allow yourself to go to ONE place. Gotta spread things out.) Go to Target and spend an hour staring at the pretty stationery, and then leave without buying anything but a single banana.

5:30-6:30 – Prepare ramen or instant mac & cheese.  Eat your Target banana for dessert.

6:30-6:35 – Take deep breaths as you check your email. Try to convince yourself that if you think positively, you can MAKE a response appear from a prospective employer. Perform another séance for luck.

6:35 – Discover that there are no new emails. Decide it is your computer’s fault that you’re unemployed. Punish the computer with your thoughts.

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6:37 – Receive a text from a family member or friend, asking if you’ve found a job yet. Consider murdering them.

6:45-7:00 – Lay on the carpet and cry some more. You’re going to miss having a place to live.

7:00-8:00 – Watch Grey’s Anatomy. Find yourself hoping that the entire hospital explodes into a huge fireball, and that everybody gets mangled. Especially Meredith.

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8:00-10:00 – Begin the second round of job-searching, because for some crock of shit reason, employers have started posting new jobs at night, and if you wait until the next day to apply for them, you’re probably coming behind some overachieving assholes who are even more anal than you are, so in order to keep up with everyone, you’re going to have to up your level of anal, and you never thought you’d say that phrase in your life, but you’ve lost perspective, and you don’t know what to believe anymore.

10:00-10:30 – Consider taking up a new fun hobby, like smoking crack.

10:30-12:00 – Come up with an idea for a children’s TV show about a clog-dancing gremlin named Elvis. Write and illustrate the first 15 pages of the script.

12:00 – Check your email again. Discover that an employer wants to set up an interview with you!!!!!!!

12:00-12:07 – Run around your apartment like a madwoman, waving your arms in the air and making pterodactyl noises.

12:07-1:00 – Try on different outfits to wear to the interview, because even though it’s after midnight, and the interview is still three days away, you need time to prepare, and you’re not sure whether that pencil skirt still fits, and you briefly wonder whether a pencil skirt is perhaps too fancy for an interview at a nonprofit agency, but you don’t exactly have a lot of choices, and it seems like a better option than the dress pants with the hole in the crotch.

1:00 – Feel thankful that you showered earlier. Green hair really wouldn’t go with this blouse.

1:00-1:30 – Research interview tips. You’re going to interview harder than anyone has ever interviewed in the history of interviews.

1:30 – Fall into a twitchy sleep.

For those who have endured periods of unemployment or (other difficult periods), what kind of routine did you develop? What other strategies helped you through?

 

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53 thoughts on “How to Be Unemployed

  1. Oh my goodness, I am the unemployment queen. Thankfully I’m holding on tight to the job I have now )over 3 years!!) but I went through periods where I was unemployed and then getting hired and fired from a variety of jobs. When I’m unemployed I job search obsessively and also try to work on improving my job skills, like trying to improve my typing and computer skills and learning Spanish, all of which I quickly abandon once I’ve found a job. I also am really good at making money but going to focus groups, participating in medical studies and walking people’s dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t tended to hold on to jobs very long either – my current job is my record at almost 2 years! Go us! But in the past, I’d always applied for and accepted new jobs before I quit the other ones, so I hadn’t had to deal with unemployment.

      I too did the obsessive job search thing. Everytime I got the same results with no new ones, it was crushing. I think I did a hundred google searches on things like “how much money would I get from donating plasma?” I never went through with it though haha. Participating in medical study almost sounds fun…

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      1. Oh yeah, you get thousands of dollars but you have to go through a lot of hormone treatments. It’s a lot of money but it still may not end up being worth it for some. I certainly never did it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can completely relate to all of this, though extenuating circumstances have prevented me from job searching. I do surveys and website reviews to put some gas in the car but it’s nothing special. I’m glad to know other people wear the same shirt three days in a row and don’t give a shit until they have to when it comes to becoming a part of the workforce 😛

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ugh, I’m sorry you’re going through that right now! I hope the situation gets better for you soon, whatever the circumstances may be! During that time, I couldn’t have cared less about what I wore haha. It didn’t help that it was a Texas summer and I was trying to conserve electricity by using my a/c less, so I was hot a lot of the time haha.

      Going around in old shorts and a tank top? Why not! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I went through a 6 month period a while back and realized that job searching sucks the worst. I hope to never do that again. Finding a job is even worse than having a job. The crushing humiliation and desperation were the worst.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, anytime I hear about someone job searching, I’m instantly sympathetic. The sheer humiliation of it caused quite a few ugly fights in my relationships. Well-meaning friends and family would ask about my job situation, so I’d respond defensively and rudely, and they’d (understandably) react just as badly.

      My top advice for people whose loved ones are unemployed: for the love of god, don’t ask them if they’ve found a job yet! Lol.

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  4. I have been unemployed for over 2 years. Honestly, I like not working because I can finally feel like “Mom”… but this cannot be a permanent thing… I’ve already had to burn through far more savings than I’d ever wanted to. I’m kind of in hell. I guess my routine is utter despair… and worrying about money constantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Two years is rough!! ☹️ I too enjoyed the lack of job for a bit – I was exhausted from school, and it really was nice (at first) to rest, see friends, etc. But once I got serious about searching, the enjoyment just evaporated.

      I’m glad there have been some advantages to your situation, but the disadvantages kind of ruin it, don’t they? I remember the feelings of despair and bitterness (and anger and shame, etc) so well. I hope your situation changes soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Because I was laid off in the spring, our plan was that I take the summer off — save us the money on summer camp for the kids. And then look for work in September. As it got closer to Christmas and I had nothing… we decided I should take a break until January. By then, every time I tried to do anything related to the job search, I would have a panic attack, or come close to one, and I had to stop. So I was pretty much paralyzed. So then summer came again… and the cycle repeated. But our financial situation has, of course, gotten worse… so this Sept, I really need to find something. And I will hate it because I hated my last job. And I’ll feel like I never see my kids…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think the worst part about unemployment is that it starts to affect other aspects of your life. First, you feel incompetent and unwanted because no one wants to hire you. Then you feel like a bad friend, because you don’t have the money to do anything with anyone. Then you snap at people who are just trying to help, and you end up feeling guilty and alone. And the anxiety about this experience potentially lasting forever is enough to make you want to curl into a ball. It’s even worse when the idea of getting hired doesn’t make you feel any better, because you don’t want the job in the first place. Everyone needs something to feel good about.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been unemployed a couple of times over the past few years. The most recent was post-MSW. On average it takes a recently graduated MSW 3 months to secure employment. That meant putting all my things in storage and going to stay with my parents in Arkansas because I needed to conserve money. I had a meager savings, but not much. I had a low vitamin D and some other things going on, so waking up was tough. Generally somewhere around the neighborhood of lunchtime I would wake up, grab a bite and hit the computer. I applied to over 100 jobs on USAJOBS and other places. It was rough. I lived in the parents camper because I had pets with me. It was crowded in that camper, but it was better than nothing.

    The time before that I stayed with cousins and Aunt and Uncle in Weatherford. Started off sleeping on the couch at the cousin’s and eventually was able to worm my way into a bed at Aunt and Uncle’s. I would get up everyday and go to Cousin’s for the wifi and apply. Sometimes for a change of scenery I would go to the library and use their wifi. Not as desperate a situation as my most recent one as I was getting unemployment. I also did enjoy my cousin’s pool some. 😀 After about three months and multiple interviews, I landed a job. One of my cousin’s, Lee, he couldn’t understand how I could be applying to all these jobs and interviewing when I never left the house. LOL!

    I’ve applied at Home Depot, for a school bus driver position, marking utilities lines, park ranger, Lowes, Walmart, Target, hotel clerk, O’Reilly’s, Autozone, Hwy Department, Cable installer, Call Center, security (armed and unarmed), substitute teacher, tutor, and many many more. I did check out the plasma and donating blood. Funny enough, it was when I WAS employed that I considered medical studies because who couldn’t use a little bit of extra money?

    Speaking of extra money, I currently do secret shopper and product naming and slogan generating along with checking out a website called Freelancer.com to match up some skills and get paid. I can always use a little more cash. Check out Sloganslingers.com and BestMark. You won’t get rich, but you may get a little extra between paydays. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. momsranting

    I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a job… thank god I guess. But I can relate to a lot of the comments, sometimes I get in these moods where I feel like I’m not “fulfilled” enough, not enough self-actualization, or other such crap….and I scour the job boards looking for something “perfect”. which doesn’t exist. And I swing back and forth between loving my job and being grateful for it, to hating this crap and jesus what else can a nurse practitioner do!!!! Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I totally do that too! When I wrote this post, I remembered how horrible it felt to not have a job, and I felt so relieved that I not only have one now, but also really like it. An hour later, I was mentally complaining about some aspect of my job haha. I think it’s probably normal to vacillate between being grateful for what you have and wanting something more.

      (I HOPE it’s normal, anyway. Haha!)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Agh, I’m living this right now. I had even been counting the number of interviews I had, but had to stop at approximately 50 (Who knows how many applications)… They get kookier and kookier. Most recently, I had to dance, sing, and read to adults who (purposely) behaved like children to test me. It’s the reason why I’m in my 30s and finally had to move home. :-/ My self-esteem certainly fell because no one wants to be unemployed and live with their parents at this age.

    Le sigh.

    But, actually, reading your story made me feel better because you and your readers get it. AND you had a happy ending. My happy ending must be around the corner! 🙂 We ARE blogging-twins, after all!

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    1. Oh girl, you have my sympathies. Unemployment is the greatest form of torture. I too was faced with having to move home when I realized I was running out of money. It’s so hard to maintain your motivation and self-esteem when each day is like a punch to the heart.

      And it certainly doesn’t help when you have to go on crazy interviews like that!! I think I’ve heard of them before – was this a position for a daycare teacher or something similar?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for relating! It does make me feel better.

        It was for a children’s librarian. I’ve worked for five years in a few depts of other libraries but not the kids’ dept. I didn’t get a good “hire” vibe from them, tho they were nice. My hope is kinda that maybe they’ll hire from within for that position and want me for another dept. ::fingers crossed::

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Children’s librarian sounds like it’d be fun, though I’m sure it’s really stressful at times! I feel like the type of interview they put you through is completely humiliating and unnecessary though. I’m betting that a lot of people who are wonderful and amazing with kids would feel uncomfortable in that situation. I know I would!

        As hard as it is to keep your head up, you should do just that, because I’m sure your luck will change soon 😀. And if it doesn’t, let me know where these interviewers live and I’ll show up on their doorsteps with torches and pitchforks, demanding that they give my blog twin her well-deserved job!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for having my back in such a reasonable manner!

        Yeah, my friends who are children’s librarians at other libraries thought the interview was a little much, but to each library its own! I’m also looking at writing jerbs and event jerbs, so here’s hoping that we don’t hafta whip out our pitchforks!

        Liked by 1 person

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      1. meetmeinnevada

        It actually made me feel a lot better to see this. I basically did what you did almost exactly. Ate my breakfast angrily, went to my apartment pool to swim, debated whether I should take a shower and now I am currently job hunting/dicking around on WordPress. Next to watch daytime TV…Hope this will end soon! Sucks even with a degree you can’t find anything. Thanks for giving me hope 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel you – I had all the anger, all day long. Angry at employers for not responding to emails, angry at my school, even angry at daytime tv because all the people started to seem so stupid haha. It’s so disheartening to put all your time and effort (and money) into a degree, only to struggle with finding a job. It really is the worst.

        I’m so glad you got something out of my post. Hang in there! And keep going for swims – I think the distraction helps 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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  11. blogger5500

    I took aby job I wiped old people’s bums because care work was the only thing going and I forced my self to do avon aswell!!… I mean it sure used the silversmithing and jewellery design skills I’d got from my degree.lol and I think I just broke even earning and using petrol… it sucked big hairy dick!!

    Liked by 1 person

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