Last week, a friend of mine seemed surprised to hear about how much I hated being unemployed. “Did you really hate being unemployed that much?” he asked me over Twitter, to which I responded “Yup, I hated it. What’s to love about being 28 years old with no job and no money?” Being unemployed for two and a half months was one of the most miserable experiences of my life, and today I’m going to share in detail why.
I’ve always prided myself on my work ethic. I started working in middle-school as a baby-sitter for my younger siblings and the neighbors’ kids. I got my first real job when I was 16 as a hostess at a fine-dining restaurant. I worked my way through college. Sometimes I worked two (or even three!) jobs at once. I don’t plan on being a stay-at-home mom when I have kids someday. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always worked and I plan to work until I retire at 70.
The beginning of last November started my first time being unemployed. I’ll admit, the first couple weeks were kind of nice. I got to sleep in! I got to wear comfy clothes all day! I had tons of time to catch up on my to-do lists! Plus, I didn’t think my unemployment was going to last more than a month because I was in the process of interviewing for two different full-time jobs, and I was pretty positive I was going to get offered both of them.
In the beginning of December, I received job rejection 2 of 2. I’d say that this is about the time the meltdowns and the panic went into full effect. I didn’t get either of the full-time jobs and I had no more interviews lined up. I had very little money. I was tired of wearing old-t-shirts and yoga pants every day. I was crying at least once a week. I had cabin fever from being home so much. I was restless from not having a lot to do during the day. I was gaining weight from stress eating and being sedentary. I was receiving rejection emails from jobs I had applied for or not hearing back at all. I was having a hard time finding a part-time restaurant job because most restaurants had already hired for the holidays. I wanted to go out and socialize with my friends, but at the same time, I didn’t want to see anyone because I didn’t want to talk about how I was unemployed. I kept thinking about how I’m almost 30, yet I don’t have my shit together. Essentially, I was at an all time low.
Thankfully, I have a job again. I started my new part-time job last week and I’m already feeling a difference in my mood. I feel better now that I have the opportunity to take a shower, get ready, put on real clothes, leave my apartment, get some social interaction, and work to earn my money every day. In fact, it feels awesome! I will take a part-time restaurant job over being unemployed any day.
Even though being unemployed was a shitty experience, I’ve definitely learned a lot from it. I used to think that most unemployed people were lazy moochers who used their unemployment money to travel and live it up, rather than actively look for a job. While I have met some people who do that, I’ve realized it’s not the case for everyone. Unemployment is not something we can control; anyone can become job-less at any time. We also can’t control how long we’re unemployed for; I know people who have been unemployed for way longer than I was (1-2 years). In a job market that’s super tight and competitive right now, more people are getting laid off these days and it’s getting harder/taking longer for them to find work.
Money-wise, I’ve learned the importance of having an emergency fund. I didn’t have any money saved up when my unemployment began which was a big mistake. Lucky for me, I qualified for unemployment benefits, which weren’t much, but they helped me pay my monthly bills and gave me a chance to buy the occasional Starbucks latte. Chris took care of the rest of our expenses. (If he wasn’t in my life, I would have had to move back home with my dad.) He was also very sweet about taking me out to dinner or shopping to help get me out of the house and get my mind off things. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to some of my family and friends who treated me to brunch/lunch/ dinner/coffee/drinks during the times we hung out these last couple months. I’m a millionaire when it comes to awesome, supportive people in my life!
Some don’t mind being unemployed because of the free time and free money. It wasn’t for me, though, because I’m a workaholic and I hate relying on others financially. Unemployment was a good life lesson that changed my perspective on a lot of things for the better. But it was also one of the hardest experiences of my life, and hopefully I’ll never have to go through it again.
Have you ever been unemployed before? If you lost your job today, would you be financially ready for it?