Ashamed of Unemployment? Think Again

What are they calling us? The couch generation or something? Please.

I’ve had two bouts of unemployment since I left college. I didn’t do it the fancy way and spend 30 grand on some superfluous graduate studies program in basket weaving for underdeveloped nations. That first six months I spent a lot of time just sitting and reflecting, researching and exploring. I was trying to figure out what I enjoyed doing, what I didn’t and what would truly make me happy. 
 
I volunteered at two programs — one boxing program teaching a strength training class for at-risk youth. They started in my 20 to 30 minute class then moved on to Dawne George, prison guard turned pro boxer. She went pro at 39, a remarkable feat, almost as remarkable as her at-risk male youth whisperer skills. The first six classes, I was frightened of my students. They were so much taller than me. I just wanted to be cool and for them to like me. Dumb blonde mistake! Dawne had a different approach: if you’re not going to follow my rules, get the hell out. It was super effective. In addition to that program, I volunteered at the emergency room of our local hospital. Remind me to insert a diatribe on the health care system in this state later.
 
My second bout of unemployment is happening now! I’m on day 4 and loving it. Today I spent the morning reading Mindy Kaling’s hilarious memoir. Soon I’ll be lunching with my friend at the amazing Strip T’s in Watertown and heading downtown for 75 minutes of heart-pounding hot yoga. Tomorrow I’m headed to  a book launch party at Harvard, meeting with some professors and then headed to the Back Bay for the Everyone Has a Story Holiday Party featuring Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudanese world-renowned musician and former child soldier! More info.
 
This is my life. I get to decide how I spend my precious time. If I want to sit on the couch one day and catch up on all the Grey’s Anatomy I missed after Addison left, I can. If I want to spend the day at the library reading the first 5 pages of 20 books, I can. 
 
I went through a short period when I didn’t work for six months in 2010 where I was embarrassed when people asked me what I did and I had to say, “I’m not working but…” and then fill in a qualifying statement that screams “but I’m still worthy of respect.” A 9-5 job with health insurance is not the epitome of living. Some people love their 9-5s, which usually means they are more like 7-7s, which is fabulous. The only truly embarrassing thing is not persuing what you love in some fashion on another.
 
This concept comes in many shapes and sizes. There are a million ways to find a way to do what you love, you just have to pick one and do it.
 
As a bonus, here is a perfect example of someone I love pursuing what they love. The very talented friend Rachel Levitin, who is on her way to becoming a famous musician, has a song for you!
 
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