I thought it would be fun to write a post about unemployed life, because unemployment has been getting a lot of press lately (see Occupy Wall Street and my take on it). Feel free to pass this along to unemployed friends you might know or employed friends who might be interested in how the 9% unemployed could be living right now.
I call this list: Occupy Life
- Go a-visiting.
Make frequent trips to visit neighbors, friends, and your siblings where they provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner and delightful conversation. I’ve found that people are not opposed to this one bit. They enjoy the interruption in routine and a reason to break out the cookies (or special recipe) they’ve been saving for an occasion of any sort. If you have got a knack for baking, maybe you could whip up something before you set out, that’s sure to make someone’s day!
- Get your give on.
It’s a great time to go through everything that has piled up with the promise of “getting to it someday” and then give it away! If you haven’t used it in the past 6 months, do you REALLY need it? Could someone else need it more than you? I will admit my packrat tendencies and, even though I love giving things away, sometimes it’s hard for me to part with things (see below).
- Go through collections of junior high love letters.
I read one that said, “Hi, I like you and you probably know that by now. The problem is, I like 2 other girls and I have a girlfriend. But my girlfriend is going to break up with me (for good reasons) and you know I’ve liked _____ all my life! And the other girl won’t talk to me but when we do hang out we just hold hands.” and then the next note from the same boy said, “I don’t know why you showed ________ the note. She was mad. Well, I guess me and _______ are mad at each other and we were supposed to fight. But, I guess we’re friends again.” Oh, junior high!
- Read. read. read.
There is so much going on in the world and it is overwhelming even if you’re reading the news non-stop. I like to mix things up a bit – news, commentary, theology, philosophy, comedy, fiction, autobiography and biography. Right now, I’m reading an 18th century theologian, the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and using my internet sleuthing abilities to stalk all kinds of blogs. The most important book you could ever pick up: the Bible. That’s where the wisdom is at, without fail my friends!
- Start making Christmas gifts!
I’ve been in my grandpa’s woodshop – sawing, sanding, drawing and designing and I LOVE what it does for my heart! Spending TIME with people I love making GIFTS for people I love – priceless (and literally doesn’t cost anything because I just scour my parents’ farm for supplies! My brother just happened to get married recently and we used barnboards for decorations…. everyone on my list just might be getting a re-purposed barnboard for Christmas). I smell like sawdust after a couple hours and it makes me feel like I’m working hard to accomplish actions of love. Smells good.
- Do what you love doing...
all day long. If it was me, I would write and/or hang out with kids and/or read. Guess what – being unemployed is technically a dream come true! I already have a computer, internet is free almost everywhere, I have a library of books I haven’t read yet, and there are oodles of ways to make sure I’ve got kiddos in my life!
- Deliver pizzas or drive a tractor.
If “unemployed” means you “can’t find employment suitable to your expectations,” then you most definitely need to make yourself useful in the meantime. Can you drive? Deliver pizzas (as Dave Ramsey would say). Or do what I did – drive a tractor. That’s right. And if you live in a city, I’m sure there are some small businesses that might need extra hands around the holidays! There is absolutely no reason to ask the government to pay you a salary to sit on your couch. Sorry, there are just too many jobs posted for that to make sense. Get humble. It might hurt, but it’s good for you (and me).
- Figure out the science of milk foam.
The key is the milk has to go both up-and-down AND side-to-side. Those fancy machines are so expensive and boring and loud, but the alternative happens to be simple and interesting and very quiet. Just take a beater (one you would use in a hand mixer), heat a small juice glass of milk, and then roll the beater between your hands! Woila! Latté!
- People watch.
Currently, there are some ladies playing a competitive rummy game to my left and a book club to my right (which also appears to be a strategic team to save a local library). I just love imagining what people are thinking or what they are headed home to after coffee. One lady who just left made all her personal/business calls sitting one table away from me. I feel like we’re pretty close now. She has two kids and her oldest just recently joined a sports team, which she is really excited about. She is juggling night college classes with her work schedule and Black Friday might be a hard day.
- Cherish the slow moments.
If there is one thing people like to tell you when you are unemployed, it’s some version of, “Enjoy this time, because you’ll wish you had when you are working full-time.” I get it and I am trying. Complaining doesn’t make me any more qualified, so I’m trying to keep that in mind. The sun shines just as bright on the employed as it does the unemployed (and we have a lot more time to think about it).
- Be oh-so-grateful for community.
This is a serious one. I am part of that 9 percent, but I’m not part of the unemployment movement (can I say that?). I am not waiting and hoping and praying the government will feel responsible for my situation. I am depending on the Body of Christ and they haven’t yet let me down. My friends and family have been so gracious to welcome me into their homes and their lives, showing me love I didn’t ask for or deserve.
I just got back from Honduras in June and I still haven’t allowed myself to fully process what it means to live here now, but I know that there are people around me ready to support me in the process. My church family has been so encouraging, giving me job leads and networking contacts as well as odd jobs here and there. My parents have been amazing. Never, ever in my life did I think I would say, “Well, I’m 27 and living with my parents.” The sound of it makes me grimace a little. But, can I say this is a uniquely United States discomfort? In other countries this is normal and doing anything else would be foolish.
Did you think I would forget? Ha! I’ve applied for somewhere between 75-100 jobs from California to New York. I spend a little bit of each day either searching or applying or emailing. I talk to people who talk to people who know people who might have something and then I track them down. I’ve applied for jobs in advertising, agriculture, publishing, social work, higher education, and as an administrative assistant. I have had interviews and almost-interviews and people who tell me, “You are exactly what we are looking for, but we don’t think this job would fulfill you.” Really? Let’s wait for paycheck one and let me decide. But, with every rejection (there’ve been many) and every cold call and every dead end, I know that God is not confused or frustrated. He is sovereign and He is good – all the time. I trust in His perfect plan and my place in it.
If you want to make even this interesting, then you’ll apply for some jobs with a bit of whimsy. I once sent this Cover Letter to an advertising agency with an … interesting angle.