Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Guilt of Being Unemployed

I feel like I couldn't exactly continue with the "Question? Splendid" title structure for this particular post...

The thing about unemployment is that it makes me feel guilty.  There's the guilt about being home during the day while everyone else is at least attending the job site.  This isn't helped by people asking "So, what do you do all day?" Personally, at least, I also feel it necessary to offer to tell people what I did all day.  "Today I got out of bed before noon, and then I showered, and then I went to the Apple Store to see about upgrading my operating system.  I was going to do laundry, but I figured I could do that tomorrow.  I had a strange lunch that consisted or random things found in my refrigerator.  Then I wrote a blog post."  This is typically in response to a theoretically innocuous, "How was your day?" question.  For me, at least, this kind of reply stems from wanting to prove that despite my lack of job, my life is still inherently important, even if I'm doing unimportant things.

There's also the guilt of not keeping my house spotless.  Just because I don't go to work every day does not mean I've suddenly become less lazy and more domestic!  The reason I haven't de-cluttered my room is not solely because I haven't had time.  It's mostly because it's not even a little bit of fun, and I have been avoiding it.  Suddenly having time to sort through a tub of shoes does not make it any more entertaining than it was two months ago.

Let's not forget the guilt of not applying for every single job that is hiring.  But you know what? This one is especially unfair, because sometimes you just don't have the right background or work experience for even the "easy" jobs.  I learned that the hard way right after college when I was interviewed and ultimately rejected at a pizza place.  A pizza place run by burnouts from my hometown.  That was rock bottom for me at the time.  Knowing that I wasn't qualified to make and/or serve pizza with a bunch of stoners was really a hit to my self-esteem.

So here's my question: is this guilt something I conjure up myself, or does it stem from others projecting their disappointment on me?  Have you felt the same guilt of unemployment (or underemployment)?  Seriously, I would love to know what you think about this in the comments.

This time around, I really am trying to look at everything in a more positive light.  I've actually had real jobs this time around!  Jobs that I was quite good at and taught me a great deal!  Jobs that look good on my resume!  References from those jobs who are willing to say nice things about me to potential employers.

As I wrote in my last post, I really am open to new adventures this time around.  What do you think I should be when I grow up?  Right now my wish list of professions includes wedding planner (and officiant! I'm internet-ordained!) and rock & roll backup singer.  (You should see my sweet step-touch dance moves and my terrific tambourine talents.) Of course I'm looking for legitimate job openings, but I'm interested to see what other people think I'm capable of doing with my life.  Leave suggestions in the comments. 


  1. KL,

    I can say from experience, that the guilt is entirely conjured by you and not a result of projected disappointment. A lot of our sense of identity and self worth is tied to 1) that we are "productive" members of our society and 2) how good we are at our jobs.

    When I was unemployed, I worked myself into a conniption that resulted in me sobbing outside of the Urbana Library because of what I perceived as my failure. Failure because I had become unemployed and then that I was "failing" at unemployment. As it turns out, there's no such thing. Being unemployed is bad enough, don't let your brain pile on!


  2. Kim,

    I know it doesn't help to say this, but I will anyway. Being unemployed was not something you did wrong, but it does provide the opportunity to explore things in which you previously didn't dare.

    You are a smart, beautiful, and capable women. Use this time to really ask yourself what you want in life. ( or knock over a liquor store )

    My bestie recently said, "If money wasn't the issue, what would you like to do with yourself?"

    My answers were varied, funny, and often frightening, but it is was worth my time to think about that question and the eclectic answers.

    I know you can do anything you put your mind to and you will do it well!

    Dee (hehehehe)