Unemployment is a new experience for me. I’ve worked multiple jobs since the age of 14. Every job transition I’ve experienced had overlap, wrapping up my previous position while working nights and weekends at my new position. A large part of my identity was wrapped up in my ability to produce and work hard.
Being unemployed has taught me a lot. All experiences in life give us the space to learn and grow and I want to share what I’ve taken away from this time so far.
1. Gratitude for the people in my life
I’ve had so many people show up for me during this time. Whether it’s been a guest room to sleep in, words of encouragement, buying me a meal or reminding me that I’ve built communities/businesses that matter. It’s humbling and heartwarming. I look forward to paying it forward in the future when I am able to. It’s a reminder that we all need help sometimes and to utilize self-compassion to accept that help without shame.
2. Lean into creativity
I still “work”, but on creative projects that I haven’t made time for in the past. I’ve been creating content, writing stories, editing videos, and continuing to develop my audio skills. Creation for the sake of creating. Using this as an indicator of where my true passions are. Paying attention to where I easily fall into flow states. Gathering data on my experience and using that to guide how and why I apply for opportunities.
3. How to live with less
Reducing my expenses as much as possible. Selling or donating most of what I own. You start to get “crafty”. At first, it seems hard but then you start to appreciate the simplicity of your life. You have less to worry about. Less to take care of. You become smarter and more efficient out of necessity. You learn how to do more with less.
4. Disconnecting my identity and worth from my work
It is incredibly easy to wrap who you are with what you do. I connected the two together for most of my life. So trust me, I get how easy it is to do. Some days it’s easy to feel like I’m not contributing enough to society.
Then I remind myself: there is worth in being a good friend, there is worth in helping my parents with yard work, there is worth in being creative and sharing that creativity, there is worth in modeling vulnerability and sharing my story. I have worth with or without a job. I am more than what I can produce for a profit. That’s not something our culture teaches us, but I am hoping that this pandemic will help change that.
You have worth too.
I acknowledge that my situation doesn’t match other’s out there. I don’t have a family to feed. No one else was dependent on my income. I was able to sell my home during the pandemic. All things that make this easier to see the “good” in the experience.
I share this to remind myself that there is a gift in this time. There is a gift in the struggle. I hope it brings someone else comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this experience.