What I Learned While Being Unemployed (or What The Universe is Trying to Teach Me This 2019)

The new year got off to an unexpected start for me. While enthusiastic about the new possibilities that this year would bring along with all the new challenges that I would face, my sudden dismissal from my job changed things for me. This is the first time I have ever been laid off from a job, and for some time this has been a fear that has haunted me because of its disruptive nature. A dismissal from a job is a cancellation of a certain financial security that you feel. The work we do is also tied to our personality, especially when dealing with creatives. A lot of the work we do comes to define how see ourselves and it is inevitable to come to think of ourselves as a job title or role, by only the things we do.

This is no way is a glorification of unemployment or an excuse for others to take pity on me, but rather my share of experiences to allow insight and reflection into the matter. Unemployment is not fun at all, but there are resources and services out there to help you through the process. Having a healthy support network and creating a to-do list to accomplish things daily has helped me be productive and keep my mental health in check without being too hard on myself.

While navigating my state of unemployment, I have learned about myself through careful observation of my thoughts, actions and how I approach certain situations. Here are some things I have learned about myself and work so far.

You are not your job.

Your job is not the only thing that you have to offer the world. It is only one part of who you are as a person. For some people this is a huge parte, for others not so much. It is refreshing to take a step back and see all the other things that you can do, offer others and that you like about yourself.

Your worth as a person is not tied to your productivity.

Do you know how many things I got done in the first couple of days after being laid off? I managed to fold all my clothes using the KonMari method (if you haven’t seen Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, do yourself a favor and watch it after you finish reading this post of course) and organized my apartment.

You can get so many other things in the day that are focused on your wellbeing and your life.

One of the perks of being unemployed? Going to the gym at any time of the day and finding it surprisingly empty. Just getting out of my apartment to exercise has improved my mood greatly and allowed me to focus on something that I had been neglecting for some time, my physical health and being active.

Sometimes you just need a break.

This forced break has allowed me to rest and take care of myself. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we forget to take a break, to disconnect for real. It kind of feels like the universe is telling you “Hey! You need to slow down.” That also teaches me to regularly schedule vacation time during the year to make sure I am taking care of my physical and mental wellbeing.

Being frugal is not as hard as I thought it would be.

I have been able to take a magnified look at my finances and see where I would normally spend money that was unnecessary. Sometimes we spend out of habit (or boredom, that’s me for sure) and knowing that I am on a tight budget and that bills still have to get paid has allowed me to become very stingy and evaluate what things are wants and which are needs.

Time is so important.

By having all this time to myself, I have been able to examine how I spend my time. This has helped me allocate the necessary time to all the things I want to accomplish during the day and not feel like I wasted a day away by doing nothing or half-assing everything I did. By dedicating a good amount of time each day applying to jobs, writing cover letters and perusing job boards, I can feel accomplished and move on to complete other things I want to do once my time is up. How I choose to spend my time each day is up to me and I am responsible for making the most of it.

My anxiety has gone down considerably because it was tied to the expectations of others.

I regularly suffer from anxiety and although I have been seeing a therapist for treatment for some time now, it is still something I am working on overcoming. The moment it happened, when I was laid off, a wave of fear came over me. All the uncertainty for the future swept me and filled me with dread. But I finally understood that the worst had come and I was still alive. It wasn't the end of the world. This outlook allowed me to focus my energy and monitor my self-talk (that inner monologue we all have with ourselves). I was no longer plagued by impostor syndrome or thoughts that I was not good enough, that my work was not worth it or talk that underestimated my achievements thus far.

I have so much to offer.

We are not just employees. We are not just workers (without getting into the nature and purpose of work). We are friends, we are lovers, we are family members that are loved and cherished. We are appreciated by others. Life is to be enjoyed. It is for us to work on the things that fire us up. While my interests are all over the place and I get distracted by all sorts of shiny objects, I have been able to slowly but surely work on personal projects and continue learning about all the things that interest, helping me develop new skills. This has been a great time for me to do some soul searching and find something that I am passionate about that I want to pursue. What my next step will be is up for me to discover, but in the meantime I am just going to enjoy the ride.

The past couple of days have given me time to pause and reflect on my life.

The past couple of days have given me time to pause and reflect on my life.