I’ve been wanting to write this entry for a while, but I couldn’t really get it going and other things seemed more timely. I think the Universe was telling me to wait. ANYWAY. HERE IT IS.
A JORDAN’S GUIDE TO FUNEMPLOYMENT. (I can't act like I came with this all on my own; it's a combo of my own experiences and good advice that was given to me by friends who had been where I was).
I spent most of the last year without a steady job. I freelanced and took some temp jobs, and accepted a job that I was super unhappy at, until I found my dream job. I’ve been there for three months and I’m so much happier and lighter and hopeful and healthier than I’ve been in years. However, getting there wasn’t easy.
Millennial unemployment is at a stagnant 12.8%, still. I’m not the only one in the group of my friends who was unemployed for six months or more. With that in mind; I decided to write my own personal guide to “funemployment”; should someone stumbling across this blog suffer the same fate.
Don’t be ashamed!
- I spent most of the time I didn’t have a job being ashamed about not having a job, and that was ridiculous. I’ve had a job since I was 18, and I’m very much a Type A person. Not working killed me. But, the fact of the matter is, shit happens. I left my job, because I was so stressed it was making me physically ill, and fighting for a job that I hadn’t been happy with and wouldn’t grow in, wasn’t worth it anymore. Quit or be fired, and I decided to leave on my own terms; no one puts baby in a corner and all of that. It didn’t make me any less ashamed. Millennials are the most educated, least employed generation. I was not a special snowflake, and I spent many a day anxious and in bed, when I could have been knitting or reading or something else. Should you find yourself “funemployed”; take it seriously, but try not to beat the shit out of yourself. The economy has done that for you.
Apply for benefits.
-And do it the second you know you won’t have a job. Don’t blow through what savings you might have. I did that, and I would regret it, if I believed in that type of regret. I was ignorant to unemployment benefits and assumed I wouldn’t qualify; even though I did. Find the paperwork (if you live in CA, it’s all online), and fill it out. Even if you don’t qualify all you’ve lost is the few hours it took to fill it out. It’s better to have it than to struggle without it. Even if it’s confusing to you, one of your friends probably knows how to fill it out; see my stats about unemployment rates in our generation.
Ask for help!
-I leaned on my friends and I leaned on them hard in the last year. I needed them. A friend is the one who told me I definitely qualified for unemployment and taught me how all of that works. Friends slid me money so I wouldn’t rack up a ton of credit card debt. Friends took me out and talked me down, when I was really starting to lose it. Friends told me about openings at their jobs, or pointed me to good listings - -one of my friends told me about builtinla.com, which led to the job that finally got me out of my unemployment rut.
Get up and get dressed every day. EVERY. DAY.
-Make a schedule for yourself. It will help you stay afloat mentally and emotionally, and it you will not hate yourself when you finally start working again and are on someone else’s time. I was out of works for nine months, of course I had runs where I stayed in the same gross pajamas for days at a time and slept most of the day away. However, those were not my good days and they lead to more not good days. Even if you just change out of pajamas and into yoga pants, the way I did most of the time; going through the motions makes it easier for your to be productive and spend your time wisely, rather than wallowing in the self-pity, and there will probably be self-pity.
-Even if it’s not your favorite thing to do; it’s still worth it. Plus, there are a lot of hours in the day that need to be filled. Work usually takes up 8.5 hours of our day, without drive time. Pick up a book, a comic, a magazine, and get to it. Learn new things. Read the classics. Get out of your own world, and your head. It was way cooler to pretend I was in the Slytherin common room, than remember I was spending another damned day in my own living room.
Take your pet for a walk. Better yet, take a friend for a walk. Go for walks in general.
-Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Working out is also really good for your body. I’m a rather fit person, and the change from working in a retail location where I walked about six miles back and forth the store all day, to sitting at a computer, added to all of the stress eating I was doing meant I couldn’t fit into my jeans in January. I started working out every morning. It gave me a purpose, it made me happy, and I was able to fit back into my jeans relatively shortly; which was great, because I couldn’t afford new pants—I didn’t have a steady job. Explore your neighborhood. Work out in the park around the corner. God, I wish Pokèmon Go had been released when I wasn’t working.
-I need not explain. Don’t drown your sorrows, but even when money is lean, a three dollar beer is a nice option.
What luxuries do you “need”?
-Obviously, there are somethings you’re going to need to cut out if you’re not bringing in the same amount of money you were when you were working. I stopped getting my hair done regularly, because it was too expensive to keep up. I never had Hulu, but rather than paying for it, I signed up for a free week long trial with every e-mail address I own. I ended my gym membership with 24 Hour Fitness (because it was 10 miles away and too expensive) and starting working out at home in the park, until Planet Fitness (which was 5 miles away and 40$ cheaper) had their beginning of the year sale, when I got a 10$ monthly membership. I waited longer in between getting my nails done, if I got them done at all. I did my own hair and make-up for a wedding I was in, rather than pay for the stylist. I bargained shopped and learned how to coupon. But, I did’t give up Netflix, or Disneyland. That was 60$ a month, when money was already thin, but those are two things that bring me more happiness than I can describe, so I held onto them. They make me feel like me, and during a time when I wasn’t really feeling myself I needed something. I also splurged on a few concert tickets. Even if it meant I had to get cheaper cuts of meat at the market. I knew it would be worth it, and something to help me keep some sense of normalcy. Besides; six months down the road and I can tell you every detail about seeing Good Charlotte at The Troubadour in November, and The Academy Is at Chain Reaction in December. Can I tell you what I ate those months? Soup, probably. I don’t fucking know. Moviepass is only 20$ a month and it lets you see as many movies as you want a month (but not multiples on the same day). You might need that when you're not working.
Catch up on a TV show you've heard about but always skipped out on.
-I had never watched Parks and Recs before last year. I’ve now seen every episode about five times. It’s one of my favorite shows and one of the funniest fucking shows I’ve ever seen. I watched all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer again. I’ve seen hella episodes of Maury. Grey’s Anatomy? I can quote the whole series. Lifetime plays at least three episodes a day. It’s the same as the reading.
Pick up old hobbies again; crochet, learn an instrument.
-I started playing guitar and piano again. Am I good? Not really. I’m not even as good as I used to be, which wasn’t very good. But, I’m back into it. I started thinking about High School and how many hobbies I had back then and all of the things I used to do, and some of them I started again. You might realize you stopped because you hated them, or you might end up making everyone scarves for the holidays.
CALL YOUR MOTHER!
-Unless you have a crap ass, abusive family; your family cares about you. Let them show it.
Hone your craft.
-I’m a writer. I wrote. Anything. I just wrote. I wrote like I was Alexander Hamilton. And it paid off. I started this blog. This blog helped my prove my strength as a writer and sell myself at the interview for the job I currently have and love, where I get to write all day. If you draw, then draw. If you code, code. Whatever that thing that you do and are awesome at, do it. You finally have the time to.
Think about what you really want.
-I’m an introspective person. I thought a lot about what I wanted out of my future, and what kind of job I wanted, if I wanted a traditional job at all. What kind of schedule did I want to be on? What city did I want to work in? Eventually live in? Did I want to freelance forever? What the hell did I want?
Think about why you want it.
-When I finally found an answer; did I want these things for security? Because it was expected of me? Did I really think it would make me feel happy and fulfilled?
Make up a dream week.
-If you had your way, what would you do Mon-Sun and how do you go from where you are now, to there?
Apply for jobs.
-Duh. I saved this one for last though, because I really think it’s it’s important to do the other stuff and have all of those experiences and thoughts rolling around, so you apply to the right jobs. I thought I wanted to be a substitute teacher, until I was far into the hiring process and realized that it was a TERRIBLE fit for me, and I knew that, because I had and was doing all of the above. I thought I wanted to work four tens, UNTIL I DID IT AND REALIZED IT SUCKS. I thought I really liked the west side of LA, until I drove down there and realized how much it’s changed in the past few years! Having a bunch of experiences and a clear vision helped me apply not just for jobs, but for the right jobs, until I found one that’s been a perfect fit. If you’re spending 40 hours a week there; it might as well be something you really dig, as well as financing your lifestyle.
My job now gives me all of the things I wanted; to work with strong women, to be able to dress up for work, a set (but flexible) schedule, I get to write, I can listen to music at my desk, I’m working with fast fashion AND pop culture, my commute is easy (even if it’s far), it influences youth, AND it’s civic minded. I’m still not living my dream week, but that’s because I haven’t tweaked things on my end; not because it isn’t possible.
Don’t forget about any of this when you finally get a job! I keep calling it “funemployment”, because I think you should find a way to have fun with it and make it your own. And why should you stop having fun when you get a job? Quite the opposite. You have the money, so you should be having more fun. Keep the good habits you’ve built and create a strong work/life balance.
Until next time, xo!