I’ll admit it: I’m unemployed currently. Unemployed in the sense that I don’t have a nine-to-five job I go to each and every week day, loaded up with caffeine and guilty pastries. Unemployed in that I don’t wear business casual—my wardrobe consists mainly of over-sized men’s shirts, sequins, and velvet. I don’t own a pair of kitten heels. My hair is usually in disarray and my eyeliner isn’t “day appropriate”. I have time to go to the gym, and I can stay up till one in the morning reading in bed, enjoying reading in bed, without guilt and fear of the early a.m. descending upon me. I am recently graduated, a former English major, and despite what the majority of the world says, I have it together.
I run a Tumblr, I like Instagram, and I want to be a writer for a living. Spare me that eye-roll, girl. Don’t pity me, sir, because there’s nothing wrong with this situation. I’m well aware of the consequences of such a fantasy, and I’m prepared to meet them head-on. We aren’t for dreams anymore, and that saddens me. We aren’t about “what if’s” and “take-a-chance” and I get that the world has changed, and blah blah responsibility, but I nevertheless mourn it. We’ve forgotten our light-heartedness and instead traded it in for premature jadedness; world-weariness we don’t have any business being just yet.
I was recently laid off, and that sucked. I’ll tell you—I cried for a good two days, and my face felt sunburned and bloated by the end of it. My tears were hot, and my fury hotter. I felt like I’d failed myself, and I dreaded Monday morning when I had nowhere to rush off to. I was quippy with my employed friends. I said things like at least you have a job, and retrospectively, I’m ashamed. And that’s just it—my main concern was about the action—the rushing off to—the act of hurrying to some place in an attempt to feel needed, somewhere I could belong. But even before I was laid off, they didn’t need me to run the place. I was helpful, sure, but I wasn’t all that important. But the idea of a desk job, to me, signified my right to exist in a sense, to be a rightful member of society.
I will tell you something: I’m more productive now.
These days, I may sleep a little later, but I start each day with a palpable hunger for action. I freelance for a lifestyles magazine and honestly, I enjoy having more time to take on bigger projects and do a quality job on them. Because isn’t quality still a standard of success? I also write book reviews for a website—yes, it’s unpaid, but it’s a fulfilling pastime and forces me to keep up a reading schedule. I listen to NPR. I’m actually taking care of my body (for once). I spend my time writing, mostly, even if it’s for my Tumblr and an audience of three. Don’t get me wrong—I’m looking for a job. I’ve applied to fifteen different places and haven’t heard back, but I’m refusing to let that lower my confidence in my abilities. I babysit for pocket money; I enjoy long, rainy afternoons working to better myself in ways I never had time for when I was in college, or when I had a full-time job. It isn’t perfect, I’m far from perfect, but I don’t think that’s the point.
I want to make this clear: I’m not advising anyone to quit their job. I’m not promoting a pleasure-seeking life. I’m not saying twenty-somethings should be privileged just because the economy is bad. What I am doing is standing up for myself and my current jobless state. I feel like a good many people believe I’m not “doing anything” when that’s quite the opposite. I feel better about my abilities than I have in years. I readily listen to my friends, about their long days, about their bosses and inopportune lunch breaks. I sympathize and at times, I envy them. But then I’ll realize all that I’m really jealous of is the consistency and routine. And I don’t want to be ruled by routine. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen to writers. And if I’m unemployed now, at twenty-three, and still taking charity from my parents—so what? If you’re actively seeking to better yourself in the process, what are you really doing wrong? What is there to condemn you for?