The Joys and Sorrows of Being Unemployed

For the past two weeks, getting a job has been my job. The pay is crap. I have one “professional” outfit and have been wearing it every day.

Is there anything more demoralizing than job hunting? Especially when you have no job to begin with. When you want to change jobs, you at least have a sense of dignity. You can approach potential employers with an air of “You need me more than I need you.”

But when you have no job, the money you have is finite. You’ll need most of it to pay the bills and eat. You can’t make future plans or get a haircut. You can’t even indulge in a  little retail therapy if you’re feeling homesick and depressed.

I’m not talking about anyone specific, of course.

The real paradox of joblessness is this: We spend our lives working. Some people slave away for years in jobs they hate, others are fortunate enough to love their jobs. But we all have a deep-seated daydream of not working. How much time you would have! You could take naps, work out for three hours a day, go to 8 yoga classes a week, sit in coffee shops and putter around on a blog, read Infinite Jest.

When you actually find yourself in a jobless situation, however, these things all seem like undeserved luxuries. How can you sit there sipping coffee when there are cover letters to be written, Craigslist to check (again), business cards to hand out? You need to “put yourself OUT there,” right? You have no right to screw around in the gym while the money just runs out.

MONEY. Those silly pieces of paper which control and limit us. We can declare that money can’t buy happiness, or that it is the root of all evil. We can hate it all we want, but none of that changes the fact that we can’t do the things we want to do without it. We need it, and we’re never going to stop. They shouldn’t even call it money, they should call it something more descriptive, like……Stress Paper.

Gimme a break. I’m a writer, not a name-inventor.

There’s the rub — Money and Time do not seem to want to work together. When you’re making Money, you rarely have enough time to do the things you really want to do. But when you finally have the Time to do those things, you usually can’t afford them and instead spend all that Time worrying about Money, looking for a way to make Money, so you can afford to do the things you won’t have time to do anyway.

They say Time is Money…..wouldn’t that be great? I’d be a fucking millionaire right now.

So, readers, this is where I sit today. I woke up at nine and am sitting on the patio, sipping coffee out of an actual mug while I putter around on my blog. I’m about 80 pages into Infinite Jest.

It’s great, but…..but…..I feel guilty. For every second I spend not “putting myself out there.”

Yesterday I distributed three resumes to various restaurants and coffee shops and then spent all night tossing and turning because I thought they weren’t good enough. Or, more accurately, that I totally screwed up by not emailing them in the proper format and any perspective employer is going to dismiss me as a dumbass before he/she even opens my cover letter and I’m never gonna get a job and I’m gonna have to eat Ramen noodles and wear the same clothes forever and never go to any shows or be able to fly anywhere and I’m just going to be MISERABLE!!

Sometimes saying these things aloud makes you realize how irrational they are. Of course I’m going to get a job. And really, I haven’t had Ramen since 1996. A time will come in the not-so-distant future, when I will be stuck at work on a beautiful day, looking back on this period of my life and pining for this kind of Time. In fact, Me-From-Six-Months-Ago would be slapping Me-From-Right-Now across the face for worrying so much and failing to appreciate the Time I have today.

(That’s not true; Me-From-Six-Months-Ago would never slap anyone. She would be too tired.)

So I’m going to try to live the lesson, rather than just suffer and realize what it was in hindsight. Hopefully these musings will be helpful to some fellow un-employees. In the meantime, I think there’s a three-hour workout calling my name.

Thanks for reading.

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About Samantha Pollack

In 2010 I abandoned my city-slicker, Bostonian ways in exchange for a life of adventure in Asheville, NC. I'm a book-slaying, cat-owning, olive-loving, trail-running, movie-watching writer and holistic health coach. Hi.
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6 Responses to The Joys and Sorrows of Being Unemployed

  1. bet365 says:

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  2. Reeee-becca says:

    Erin reads your blog all regularly. She even re-reads your postings, thinks you’re amazing and that you should be a professional writer. I do and think all of those things, too, but it’s a little sweeter coming from her and I thought you should know 🙂

  3. Claire Sobba says:

    I am living your Me-Six-Months-From-Now’s life:) All of 2009 I had nothing but time to ponder, eat whatever because I had unlimited work-out time available, read whatever and facebook stalk with the best of ’em! Now, I ache for a freaking morning off. So basically….I feel ya! Hope that you succeed at enjoying:)

  4. Josh Lipson says:

    Sam P. Or some could say, me with tits. Really big ones at that.

    I have been reading your blog regularly and I am finally admitting it. It is funny, I think we even write similarly, so reading your blog is not a far cry from reading mine. I love the style and I appreciate the sentiment.

    I also agree with becca’s friend who says you are a great writer.

    Keep it up! And of course dont worry about finding a job, and DO NOT worry about the quality of your cover letters. I dont know if you have ever reviewed people’s resumes but most of them are shockingly terrible. At least they were in my industry when I was reviewing them. SHOCKINGLY! You are not like most people. First and foremost you care. You take pride in everything you do. Any company would be lucky to have someone like you working for them. I should know.

    Money is tight, fine. But money is fleeting. It comes and goes. And as important as it may be, it is not the end all be all. You are not wasting time at the gym, or fixing up your house, or just sitting and contemplating your life. Life is a journey not a destination and spending time on yourself is valuable regardless of whether it buys organic milk or regular.

    Interviewing for jobs and handing out resumes is a very demoralizing experience. Fuck people for thinking your value can be judge in a one page outline. You are going to have to work for yourself one day. You are too strong and too much of a leader to not be. In time you will find your way. I have never doubted you for a second.

  5. jennifer says:

    “They say Time is Money…..wouldn’t that be great? I’d be a fucking millionaire right now.” L.M.A.O……so funny!!!

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review | You Can Take the Girl out of Boston……

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