I have a confession. Some times I just sit here and stare into space instead of looking for a job. Some days, I can barely bring myself to do it. I AM SO SICK of tweaking cover letters and resumes and sending them out into the black hole known as APPLY ONLINE. I am so tired of telling my so-what-are-you-doing-now story. I wish I had the nerve to say, “you know, here’s what I do: I sit on my ass most of the day, eating cinnamon toast and oranges.” Honestly, if I let myself, I could slide right into dinner and bedtime without having moved more than 40 feet (the distance from the couch, to the bathroom, to the kitchen and back again.) Some days, I don’t brush my teeth.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t do idle very well. Not because I’m some superhero, it’s because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t. Trust me, I’d rather hide in my closet than face another day of job hunting. I’m tired of being upbeat. I’m tired of saying to myself (and to others) that this is an opportunity for me to do something interesting and terrific (because I don’t always believe it.) Some days I search with vigor, other days, it’s a half-ass attempt. Some people consider my determination a sign of moxie, gumption, true grit. But I think it’s a sign that I’m just burning myself out.
Today, I took a shower, brushed my teeth and put on clean jeans. I applied for two jobs. (This is more of an exercise than anything else because I’m starting to believe there’s no one on the other end of that APPLY tab. I don’t expect to hear anything anymore. Having your hopes dashed day after day can suck the optimism out of the best of us.) I contacted two former colleagues to see what they were doing and schedule lunch. Perhaps they’ll have some freelance work. I work a little on an online media curriculum that I’m developing and do more research for a contracted SEO project.
If I knew all my efforts were leading to a job, I’d dig until my knuckles were raw. But, sometimes I wonder if I’ll EVER get another job. I wonder if there is something more I can be doing. I call people I know to see if they know someone who knows someone who can get me an interview. I’ve got a blog, a website, I do pro bono work, I make cold calls, I do follow ups, I make a few bucks doing freelance and consulting. I stalk people on Linkedin and Twitter. It’s exhausting.
It’s time for a new strategy.
After three months, I have come to terms that a full-time job may not be around the corner. So I’m making plans, something I couldn’t bring myself to do two months ago. I decided to put more balance into my week. I’m letting go of the fear that if I skip a day of looking for a job, I’ll have missed some great opportunity. I don’t think it works that way. So I’m giving myself permission, heck, forcing myself, not to take it all so seriously all the time. If I chose to sit on my ass all day I won’t feel guilty about it. I’m going to go out more and do the things I couldn’t do when I worked full-time; go to the museums on a week day, walk to the Dairy Queen with Lenore when she gets home from school because the weather is sunny and warm, let my friend Carolyn make me breakfasts that last until lunch without having to worry about the time, and read a book in the middle of the day and not get up until it’s finished. Plan a road trip with my sister that takes us everywhere and nowhere. This week, I’m helping a friend who owns a consignment store in town sort and tag clothes. Business is booming and she can use the help. I can use some place to go.
The mother of a friend of my daughter said to me the other day when she learned I had been laid off, “Oh, that’s great, now you have all this time!” I thought she was nuts – and clueless. News flash: I LIKE working. But her comment stuck with me and while I still wouldn’t wish unemployment on anyone, I’m realizing now it’s important to embrace the time off. Not waste it, but make the most of it. I’m cutting myself some slack. So if you find me Monday, sitting on my ass, still in my pajamas at noon watching The View, only chastise me a little – and then ask me to go for a brisk walk to the little bakery downtown for hot tea and a cupcake where we won’t talk about the economy.