I consider myself a freelancer — or at least, that’s what I tell my father when he asks why I haven’t got an office phone number, a cubicle, and an intense desire to go all Office Space on the Xerox machine that never works. In reality, I am a nanny slash housekeeper slash personal assistant and slash or housewife to both parents. However, I’ve noticed in my line of work that there’s been a sort-of mass exodus from expensive city living, and in the past two years, I’ve worked for four different families because once my bosses leave, they have little need to take my services with them. It has made me something of an expert on the field of staring unemployment in the face like it’s the Reaping, and I, as Katniss Everdeen, have to somehow survive almost sudden death in the Arena of the Crappy Economy and No Jobs. And while I’ve always been lucky enough to find another job, it never becomes any more fun to embark on the risky endeavor of networking your ass off until you find something, anything, to help pay the bills. But first, before you ride into battle, you have to prepare for war. The following is a list of suggested activities in which one can partake so that the first 24-48 hours of impending unemployment don’t feel as unproductive as a “Seven hells, I’m out of a job, I’m dooooooomed!” pity party.
1. Mentally plan for the worst case scenarios first. How much could you make by selling your shoes on Ebay? What if you sublet your bedroom and just slept on your own couch? Would your parents agree to “bankroll your groovy lifestyle” and therefore be awesome in your eyes even though, let’s face it, they probably want you moving back home with them as much as you want to move back home with them?
2. Stare into the fridge as if you will never see it this full ever again. Good bye, six dollar container of organic baby kale from Whole Foods. It was nice knowing you, leftover Magnolia cupcake from that one time you decided to show moderation and only have half a cupcake. Soon, take-out containers and greasy bags of drunken pizza cravings will be a thing of the past because you are Unemployed and thus cannot afford to eat more than canned tuna with a side of misery.
3. Eat other half of the Magnolia cupcake. Decide if you’re going to be poor, you’d better get as many calories in you now before you have to revert to living off of your own body mass. Debate going to get another cupcake, as one half really is never satisfying, ever.
4. Call your parents and let them know you’re out of a job because hey, it’ll make them feel appreciated and wanted and if you do have to beg them to pay for everything, at least this will give them prior notice. They, in turn, will console their baby — because you are still their baby, after all — and while you, blubbering and telling them that you’re Trying To Make It Work! and you’ve got Prospects! and Ideas! as to where to find a new job, might actually feel a sense of comfort you haven’t had since your favorite blankie was finally donated to the rag heap in the sky.
5. Have pity party anyway. Dance around to cheery music ironically during pity party. Invite tequila. Show up to your soon-to-be old job relentlessly hungover because what does it matter? You’re not going to be there for much longer anyway so you might as well go out with a bang!
6. Reconnect with anyone you might have ever known who could help you get a job. Become one of Those People who asks how somebody is only to follow it up with a “SO THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR ME!” kind of remark. Don’t they want good karma? Won’t helping you find a job make them feel like a good person? Also, you should size up everyone on the street as to whether they work at a company that might employ you, or could possibly employ you themselves. Debate striking up conversation, because it’ll show you’re gutsy and outgoing and a go-getter! (Isn’t that what companies want from their employees, anyhow?)
7. Update about it on Facebook and Twitter, because this is Reality and when you’ve got a cushy job with severance and slash or tenure 15 years later, you’d like to scroll down your timeline and remember those quaint days when you weren’t sure how you were going to make rent or pay your Spotify bill. Also, go through Twitter and rabidly delete any content a future employer might find unsatisfactory. Yes, even that 140-character rant you crafted on last Tuesday morning’s commute about how that bacon and egg sandwich from the street cart is going to eff you up so good.
8. Break down your monthly expenses on a microscopic scale. Budget $40 a week for food, if you really make an effort to cook everything — and by “cook,” I mean, make half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for each meal. Call up your cell phone provider and explain that because you’re losing your job, you need a discount or even a free month of unlimited service because how else are you supposed to find a job (or play Temple Run in your first few days of unemployment and doing less than nothing) if you can’t put a phone number on the top of your resume?
9. Rationalize that you’ve worked really hard for a long time even if you’re just freshly out of college, so maybe a few weeks to yourself will be a good thing. You can mentally decompress. You can go to the gym you’re too busy to use, and you’ll impress your interviewers with a newly chiseled physique, wrought from the combination of making the gym your new place of pro bono employment and following the Too Broke To Really Eat diet plan.
10. Watch too much television with characters that have jobs they constantly bungle, and wish life were that glossy. Because it’s not. Instead, you gloss up your resume a little, make sure your one blazer is lint-free, and take your risks with Linked In! even though those emails reminding you to add Tommy with whom you worked on one project in Ethics class to your contacts have driven you batty ever since you both graduated. And then you buy a cupcake. Because if you’re going to hoof it all over and be friendly and polite during your interviews, it’s probably a good idea to avoid being hangry while doing so.