Thursday, March 12, 2009

musings on unemployment

Since I've been out of work for the past 3 months and a few days, I've had a lot of time to think about being unemployed. There have been lots of frustrations during this time. One of the worst parts is being in this 'limbo' stage (not limbo like the dance thing) this place of uncertainty - we're here in VA, but also kind of in NC. Some days I say to myself and to Jo, "This is what we're supposed to be doing!" But then there are other days I ask myself and her, "What the heck are we doing?!" It also feels really lame to be 34, married with 2 kids, unemployed and living in my in-laws' basement. And sometimes I feel unemployable, like no one will ever want me to work for them.

Those are some of the more negative things that I've experienced and felt. But just as there have been frustrations, there have been many joys as well. Below are a few of the positive things that I've gained from this time so far.

I'm viewing this as a furlough or sabbatical, almost like a vacation. Its a temporary liberation from employment. And I'm thankful for this liberation because I may never again have an 'extended vacation'. I mean come on, what employers would ever give me a 3+ month vacation? This time has been so valuable for me because I've got to spend so much of it with my family. I've seen Adelle and Evie grow and develop in ways I would have otherwise missed. Jo and I have been able to spend every day together and go out on dates without worrying about getting a babysitter. In general, these past few months has been good for my relationships with my family.

I also have learned what it means to struggle through unemployment. Because of this experience In doing so I can now sympathize and empathize with the unemployed. If I had never been without a job and never had to try so hard to get one, I would never understand the plight of many who lose jobs. When I was at a job fair last week, there many people there who are my parents' age. Its crazy for me to think that they were let go only a few years from retirement and are starting over. But there were also people younger than me. There were white people, black people, and Asian people. So there was a variety of people there and there was among us a shared experience - unemployment. But not only can I identify with those people, but I have also gained solidarity with the unemployed of the world. The unemployment rate in the US might be close to 10% in some states, but there are some countries in the world where there is more than 40% unemployment. So I have bonded with the unemployed of the world.

Lastly, I recently became certified as an ACSM Personal Trainer. If I had not experienced this temporary liberation from employment, I might never have even wanted to pursue this certification. And I might not have had the time, or at least not the amount of quality time, that I had to prepare for this certification exam. I feel a sense of accomplishment at having obtained what is considered the 'gold standard' in personal training certifications.

So while on one hand, unemployment stinks, there are lessons to be learned from this. And for me, there is definitely much to give thanks for - We have a place to live, we have food, and we are together as a family.

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