Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Things Unemployment is Teaching Me

It's crazy how much you can learn from yourself when you really have time to stop and think about where you are headed and how you can get there. All these silly little life lessons suddenly make themselves available to you, out of the blue, right in front of your face that you may have missed before. Being unemployed, even though we are only in my second week (which is long enough, thanks universe, for the break), has taught me a few lessons about who I am, skills I need to learn to cultivate in myself and time to reflect on what is really important. Maybe you have already learned these things, and if so, great, but if not- here are some of the things you might take  for granted in how busy you can become every day when you are working.
1. I am not what I do for a living. We spend so much time as kids trying to decide what educational paths to pursue to have the type of job we think we will be happy at that it's easy to get caught up in this one. Guess what? My job is gone and I am still here, with all the things I love and enjoy and believe still wrapped up inside this mind and body. Just because we tend to identify ourselves to each other by our career choices, doesn't make that the sum and total of who we are. We are more than how we earn our money.
2. I need to work on my patience.  Not everything happens on the timeline I want it to and, as much as that sucks, it is probably a good thing. I should learn to let go and stop obsessing about things while waiting for them to happen. This is a hard one for me, because having a sense of urgency is a great thing to have on the job and one of the many things most of my employers have loved about me, but sometimes that needs to be tempered with patience, both for others and for my expectations of myself.
3. My most productive time as a writer is the late morning. Really, I can think clearly with my cup of coffee in my hand and almost complete silence around me. I had really missed this and have been enjoying every second of it that I get. Hopefully I will practice more and produce better quality posts than I do when I write out of a sense of frustration or obligation. In the mornings after seeing my family off, I can write from a place of love and peace. It is very calming and nice.
4. There is a difference between being honest and being an open book. This is the chief lesson I am taking from my experience at the bank I think, is that I don't have to practice full disclosure to have a sense of authenticity in my life. Some things are best shared with certain people and not with others, and the best way to tell the difference in who these people are is to follow your gut about how you feel about them, which is almost never wrong. Putting too much trust in some people can backfire horribly, which is a painful but important lesson I suppose I had to learn someday. (The universe used its own timeline for this one and seemed to say "how about now?" at a time I wouldn't have preferred but hey.)
5. There are more than enough hours in a day, but our motivation often makes the difference between what we consider a day wasted or a sense of accomplishment. I am a list person and if I don't have a plan for what I can get done in a day or what I expect to do, I tend to feel like I have accomplished little if nothing if I just were to "wing it" and attack my day without lists. It is easier for my to get started with a clear plan of where I want to go, and, although it is important to leave some unstructured time in your day, if you don't know where you are going, you will most likely not get there, at least not in a time frame that most of us would consider productive.
6. Things break all at once and when you have no money so you can see how resourceful you are and how good you are at prioritizing. This also lets you remember who your real friends are, see who loves you for who you are, even when you're not at your best, and learn the unique skill sets of your true friends and family. Sometimes you can even learn from your neighbors and help solve a mystery like where a fainting goat went and reunite it with its family. You never know till you reach out to others.
7. You still have to get up, brush your teeth and pretend you have someplace to be, otherwise it is easy to get depressed and wallow in self pity. And really, what's the point of that except to feel worse about yourself and your situation? You still have to actively participate in your life even when you don't feel like it. If you don't, you are only making things worse and risking having others resent you for increasing their workload. Crying in baseball is okay as long as you keep playing the damn game too.You have to at least try.
8.  Not everything has to happen right now.  This kind of goes back to patience, but when you have extra time you see all these projects you wanted to do when you had no time, and now you have plenty of time but no money. Guess what? The wallpaper isn't coming off the walls by itself and no one has died yet from it being up there so if it stays there until you get back on your feet, so be it. Give yourself a break and realize you have to live your life and not cram in all your backlogged projects to feel useful.
9. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should and just because you should, doesn't mean you have to. My dogs do not need walked all day and I certainly don't need more sleep then I get at night. It's okay to indulge yourself a little bit, but don't feel guilty about taking a nap. Allowing yourself to be flexible with yourself on the way to achieving your goals is important, but don't hold yourself to an ideal that is unrealistic. I could and should be baking my family's bread now that I have the time, but my heart's not in it and I am not a crappy homesteader if I buy a loaf or two. And my husband doesn't think me any less of a wife.
10. Family and your health are more important than money or things.  Being civil to each other and recognizing that you are blessed to be together and are all working toward a common goal is crucial~ it does no one any good to be resentful or angry or blaming. Don't give up and keep trying, but realizing you should be enjoying the really important things like each other, will make getting through lean times that much easier. I have to go back to work because we need to have things, and it'd be cool to get a good job so those things could maybe be nice too instead of crap, but it does no one any good for me to stress about my bank account balance every waking second, and it certainly doesn't improve matters. Learn to enjoy each other and make a game out of being frugal- walk in the park and enjoy the spring flowers together instead of going on a pick-me-up shopping spree and most importantly- believe and KNOW it will all work out.
Now I am off to make my list for the day and call my mother to do some errands and hanging out before I come home to pick up the house and wait for my child to get home from school. This is my new routine and although things aren't happening at the pace I'd necessarily be more comfortable with (come on, interview phone calls and job offers!), the world is turning and we are making it, one day at a time. Sending hope and good thoughts from the SemiFarm to each of your families and hope you are able to find the lessons in the manure piles of life too.

1 comment:

  1. Love your article Heather! I hope you can make a living as a writer if that's what you wish! Don't forget to use me as a reference!