You are home and unemployed. You graduated and thought you would figure it all out during the summer, because you’re pretty confident in yourself. You didn’t graduate Summa Cum Laude, but you only got one C in college (and it was a C+). You went abroad and had some influential discoveries. You even snagged a few competitive internships (unpaid, obviously). The inevitable feeling of insignificance is starting to hit. Don’t let it – being unemployed doesn’t have to suck. Here are 4 reasons unemployment actually makes you stronger.
1. Depression Breeds Discovery
Ever since high school you’ve had this picture of yourself teaching rural Malawi communities Malaria prevention while studying abroad. “I’m going to change the world,” you used to think. Your social conscience led you to joining the Amnesty International club on campus, but it wasn’t enough. You immediately started looking into positions at international human rights groups. Now that your International Crisis Group application has gone unreplied, you’re starting to reevaluate your self-image. “Maybe I should just apply for that administrative assistant position,” you’re starting to think. Don’t let a broader interpretation of your passion intimidate you. You’ll be able to bring that vital “save-the-world” conscience into whatever you do. Say you end up working at a brand image market research firm. Some of your accounts are as big as Sears and General Electric. You’ll be in an influential position. You can now help those grassroots non-profits who desperately need your services.
2. Work Your Brain on Your Time
Having free time sucks, at least when your unemployment has no end in site. Picking up a book is great. Joining your mom’s morning spin class keeps you active. Secretly trying out Yoga in your room, via YouTube videos, is even better. Create your own definition of productive. Don’t let your Stanford graduate sister or Executive father tell you how to spend your time. You’re an adult, and a vital part of growing up is being productive with no supervision. You’ll maintain that confidence you graduated with and feel empowered. You’ll also have an answer to that insistent interview question “So what have you been doing since graduation?”
3. Be a Pair of Ears for your Friends
Your friends are everywhere; some are working in NY, a few in DC, fewer abroad. Their Instagrams of work softball leagues and hash tags “greatestjobever” are making you consider suicide, maybe homicide. You immediately start comparing your mundane 11am wake up schedule to their dynamic 24-hour days. Stop. Social media sucks. Your friends going through these new experiences are doing great things, but they’re enduring stresses not inflicted on you. Self-induced friendship insecurity runs rampant with the freshly employed. At no other point, besides middle school, have they been so self-absorbed, contributing to friendships fizzling out. You have the time and wherewithal to make them feel at ease with their life decisions. Be the Miranda to their Carrie.
4. Do Something Different
I know you’re home and getting out of your comfort zone seems implausible, but it’s not. Watch the Series finale of No Reservations and you’ll get what I mean. Instead of grinding out applications at the same Peets Coffee, drive an hour North (you’ve got the time!) and stumble into a county library. Walk inside, explore a little, maybe even ask if they need a temp to come and clean the shelves twice a week. It’s quiet, you’ll get some writing done and you’ll be doing something different. That feeling after submitting an essay to a professor (it’s called accomplishment) is what you should be trying to replicate.
Unemployment is an opportunity. The time you have can and must be utilized to your benefit. Not just to maintain confidence but to further your personal growth in this transition period. Keep moving; keep hustling. You’re not done — I promise.