The Myth Of Funemployment

Unlike most people, I knew that the end was nigh. In fact, I knew the exact day when I would transition from an employed person of good social standing to an unemployed cretin. At least that was how I first viewed my upcoming joblessness. But my colleagues, former colleagues now, saw it differently. The word “funemployment” was bandied about as though we were all heading down to Cancun for spring break instead of losing our health insurance. It was portrayed as the sort of sabbatical a professor of leisure studies takes: a hedonistic, carefree break devoid of obligation. “Think of all the time you’ll have!” they whispered while offering me a Dixie cup of Kool-Aid. I nodded, wide-eyed, and took a deep, long sip.

I was expecting massive amounts of fun. I was expecting day trips to the Hamptons and wild nights with nobody to answer to except my liver. I was expecting to finally see all the museums without any of the crowds. I was expecting BIG THINGS (caps necessary). For once, I would be the center of the universe and that universe was called, strangely, funemployment.

Turns out, funemployment isn’t that fun. It’s not terrible and there are worse things that could happen to a person (dying, covering the Gathering of the Juggalos for a media outlet, being stuck in an elevator with Gilbert Gottfried), but it definitely isn’t fun. Exaggerations aside, sure I can wake up whenever I damn please and my schedule revolves solely around my own bowel movements (as opposed to others’, for those who work in sanitation), but the monotony gets to me. Slowly, I’m realizing the routine joys of working. I don’t know how much tollbooth fee collectors make or what their life expectancy is, but after being out on the lam for just two weeks, I want that kind of excitement. Plus, my B.A. in French would finally be helpful to all those Quebecois weekenders.

The problem is three-fold. One, I don’t have any money. Or rather, enough money to have a really awesome time. If funemployment came with a weekly “fun stipend” that let me make proper use of all this time I have, it would be a different story. But sadly, the government unemployment compensation that arrives in my checking account every Thursday is woefully small. Large enough to probably make a difference in most third world countries, but too small for proper carousing. (NOTE: I’m curious to see if any of the GOP candidates mention their support of a funemployment stipend in their upcoming campaign pushes. It’s a real hot button issue among us 8%-ers.)

Two, the number of people with which one can have said fun is depressingly scarce during the week. This is because they have jobs, which was the thing I used to have before funemployment started. Now, I could be an exception since most of my friends are gainfully employed, but if you have a bunch of unemployed friends I don’t think that’s funemployment. It’s called graduate school! I am so sorry about that one.

Third, and most deadly, is the sheer amount of available time that I am confronted with. All that time previously spent toiling away at the office (10-12 hours a day) is now a vast maw of inactivity. It’s not a matter of what to do, it’s a matter of when to do what. Only careful planning can insure that I’m not left with a massive block of time and no activity to fill it. This “dead air,” as I call it, is very dangerous. Most often, it ends with me scrolling through an eBay auction with no recollection of how I arrived there. Other times, it concludes with a visit to Chipotle. Point is, all this time cultivates complacency which leads to boredom which breeds more lazing about until I find myself ordering delivery despite having an entire afternoon to walk and pick it up. Or better yet, learning how to cook.

I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t you going crazy? How do you stay sane? Would you like a job? Unless I am in a mental asylum by the time you are reading this, dear reader, here is how I’ve survived Shawshank so far:

  • Going to the gym; laundry (no tanning)
  • Netflix and Hulu and YouTube
  • Naps (cat and otherwise)
  • Reading and Writing
  • Basic hygiene
  • Advanced hygiene
  • Applying to jobs
  • Writing follow-up emails to jobs I am moderately interested in
  • Getting rejected from jobs

Now, what’s the featured article on Wikipedia today? Yesterday it was Pangaea! TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Mo

    This is my life right now. :/

  • Ashley

    Netflix is the best

  • Kmodek

    I’m on disability but decided to try going back to work for these same reasons. After a year, the bank foreclosed on the building I worked in & we were shut down. I got unemployment for about 2 years…a whopping $400/month. People seem to look down on anyone on unemployment OR disability, so I’m screwed either way.
    But yeah, its hard to get up every day knowing there’s nothing to do but watch tv, clean house, or other boring stuff around the house. That’s why I started going to Dennys every morning for coffee, just to get out of the house (it also forces me to get dressed and comb my hair, otherwise I’d lay around in pajama pants all day with ratty hair).

  • Carmen

    Wasn’t an article on this already posted on ThoughtCatalog? By Ryan O’Connell? This is funny, I suppose, but that other one was hilarious.

    Hey TC, do you have any articles for anyone who isn’t twentysomething, disillusioned, disenfranchised, and doesn’t live in New York?

    • Gregory Costa

      What do you think of Los Angeles? 

    • how trite

      No. I believe you’re looking for Parade Magazine.

      • Carmen

        Oh right, the one that publishes pieces by Nobel laureates and professional authors. Thanks!

  • AC

    You forgot to add watching porn on that list

    • AC

      I mean watching a lot more porn than usual

  • Sara

    Ugh me excepts daily challenge is ‘if I eat now I’ll have to wait a hour before I workout … I should just workout now but I don’t want to feel hungry while I workout. Ok I’ll eat now then work out.’ and then I don’t workout for another 4 hours and it begins again.

    Oh and getting up early. What’s the point? I don’t need more hours in my day to feel completely useless. This French mindsnacks app is entertaining for only so long.

  • Picco

    What’s missing here is any level of awareness in regards to gratitude. How many times in life will you actually get “paid” to sit or lay around and think about your life? To think about how you can improve yourself and get yourself ready to join the workforce again. These moments are rare, so stop and try to appreciate the lack of structure in your life. Be glad. Savor that lunch. Take a walk out amongst the crush of humanity NEEDING to be somewhere. Feel the difference between you and them. Say a prayer for them. They so need what you have right now. But if what you want is to live like the guys on Entourage, then yeah, being unemployed sucks.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously, you’re spending too much time on hygiene.  Flossing is never fun.  

  • Sophia

    I read the featured article on Wikipedia every day! It makes me feel so full of random-knowledge.

  • Southernvtgal

    I am 18 and unemployed, I start college soon, I need health insurance to pay off a lot of big bills because I had a breakdown and went to the hospital. I have a tooth rotting in the back of my mouth due to my mother never bringing me to a dentist when I did have health insurance. I am looking for work and I try to stay positive, like I might not have a job but I have people who love me, and are willing to help me pay off big bills if I need it, I have school ahead of me, and I have myself. I love life, even though right now I am poor. <3

  • bee

    “Basic hygiene.
    Advanced hygiene.”
    That part made me think of Demetri Martin, which is always a good thing. :)

  • xq

    i loved funemployment. i cooked/baked a lot, worked out, caught up on reading/tv/movies/the news, did nice things for my friends/family, volunteered abroad, went on informational interviews, etc. i miss it now that i’m back to being chained to email. ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN.

    • ACE

      That’s true, but unemployment is SO MUCH more fun in hindsight. When you’re currently unemployed, it’s just terrifying!

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