Hey, broke asses, I have some bad news. This is the last time I’ll write The Unemployment Chronicles—FOR NOW. A writer and editor by trade, I also enjoy waiting tables, and that’s what I landed a job doing this week. Is it furthering my career? Not really, but it is a job, I like it, and I’m no longer unemployed. However, I kind of loved this whole foray into joblessness, so I wouldn’t say this column is finished forever. Let’s review what I’ve learned the past two weeks:
You can experience job-related stress even when you don’t have one.
I missed last week’s Chronicles due to a migraine. I spent so much time obsessing over sent job applications, requested writing samples, and Craigslist that I really wasn’t taking care of myself. That was a healthy reminder to loosen the eff up. Try not to feel that you’re wasting time when you’re not job hunting. I was always thinking of what I should be doing (sending resumes, looking for new job sites, lowering my standards) rather than relaxing, and it caught up to me. Don’t stop taking care of yourself just because you’re broke and unemployed. Hell, being unemployed means you have more time to be good to yourself. This brings us to my next point.
Treat yourself right.
You have enough time! Cook a halfway decent meal for yourself: Bulk dry beans and rice are super-cheap, and if you add some frozen veggies to the pot, you’ve got a nutritious and budget-friendly (not to mention vegan) meal that you can stretch for days. If you’ve already paid for a gym, go work out every day because why not? Take a bubble bath, sleep in, get some sun in the park in the afternoon. You could try dividing your day into blocks: a job-searching block, a query-responding block, a self-care block, a getting-hell-of-drunk block. Also, don’t feel bad about taking one or two days off from the hunt each week, just like an ordinary weekend. Those jobs posted on Friday will still be there on Monday. But don’t take the laziness too far.
I made the mistake of acquiring Netflix last week, and it has severely hampered my productivity. I’ve spent probably half a day so far putting movies and shows into my queue. There are so many archeological documentaries and crime dramas to watch! Don’t let this happen to you. Chances are you’ve embraces the 21st century and already have Netflix, Hulu Plus, or motherfuckin’ cable, but try to stay away. Procrastination is so much easier with television, and that’s not really a rut you want to fall into. I know, TV rules, but you’ve got to limit yourself, as your mother may have advised back in the day.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
This adage is especially important when you’re jobless. First, put a price on your time. How much is an hour worth to you, $15? $20? More? If a prospective job, for example, requires you to submit five unpaid writing samples that will take 10 hours to complete before you’ll even be considered, evaluate how much the job is really worth. If you land a Craigslist gig that works out to about $2 an hour, screw that asshole, and move on. In addition, be realistic about how much time you have in each day. It’s true that you have more time than you did when you were employed, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll stay out till 3am Wednesday night, get up at 8am on Thursday, go to the gym and three interviews before meeting a friend for dinner, and not die. Or perhaps you just have a stronger constitution than I.
Thank you for coming along with me on this little adventure. I’m not sure what’s next, but I know that now I have a job, and that’s a big relief. If you, too, are unemployed, don’t allow frustration to get the better of you! Just relax in the knowledge that you’re doing everything you can to become once again a productive member of society… or whatever you used to be when you were working.
Photo credit: Crushable