My Positive (Well, Not Really That Positive) Spin On Unemployment

I wake up every morning unemployed and pissed off about it.

One might think pissed off-ness would have worked like premium gas and got my system into racing form.  But just like the economic forecast predicted: I am stuck with the rest of the sluggish economy.

What’s a girl to do when she wakes to find that she has no place she has to be?  No thing she has to do or get done?  Because hell, she’ll be off the next day if whatever she has on her to do list doesn’t get done today.

This is what: she looks in the mirror and says, “Damn, I can’t believe this shit.”  And yes, she says it with all of those cuss words.  She, you see, is constantly reminded that she is the captain of her fate; master of her soul.  What? Y’all didn’t have to learn “Invictus?”

Okay, pretentious allusion aside, waking every morning without a pre-defined schedule, much as employment provides, really reminds you, almost forces you to be productive in ways that you might not otherwise think about as you robot your way through your wake up at 6, leave by 7, make it home around 6, 2 sitcoms before bed, and get ready to start over again tomorrow work schedule.  There are benefits to such roboting-like a steady income.  But what I realize can be easily lost in such roboting is the ability to be productive in other ways, to grow personally or in some cases professionally.

Knowing that I could always find another adjunct job kept me stagnant and unwilling to admit that I was gonna have to do a little more (whisper: phD, phD, phD) to get a little more.  I was only barely productive in developing my career as an educator, determined that maybe I would finagle my way into a tenured gig like the other .00002% of MFAs or else some nonprofit would be happy to scoop up my idealism rather than take advantage of it.

Sure I was productive in that I applied for jobs nearly weekly, travelled to a few interviews, and even took my time turning down some offers.  But rarely were these jobs that would have offered real career growth because I just wasn’t that can’t-turn-her-down-candidate without a PhD.

Teaching only left so much room for my art stuff.  Even in summers off I found myself working part time gigs just in case, like the pendulum most adjuncts are subjected to constantly ducking, I was not re-hired in the University’s goal to secure a 95% PhD faculty.  I would submit work but didn’t always have the time or energy after all that was done to write new work or adequately revise old stuff.

Worst of all, I was perpetually unhappy (a redundant but recurring theme in my life) in my self-imposed limbo.  I self medicated with a number of not so healthy remedies, but eventually landed on more productive ones: working out, dance classes, and visual art.

Since being unemployed I have determined why those activities were so important.

They have given me a reason to be, and a means of being, productive despite my situation. (And gyrating around a studio kept me too busy to slit my wrists).

While it is not likely that any of the above is going to be essential to my career growth (at least not if I pursue academia) they force to me take charge of my psychological and physical health.  I need both if I’m gonna be the can’t-turn-her-down candidate and especially if I intend to be the kind of person who is prepared to take on the ups and downs that not only await me but greet me pretty much every day.

Speaking of days; mine are comprised of taking charge of a life which generally feels like it’s spun completely out of control.

Most days my “job” consists of a job search, faxed dossiers, a workout, and something I had a hard time finding time for while I was employed: reading.  I love reading and there are so many books I missed because I was always reading stuff for class.  But today I read 100 pages uninterrupted without feeling like there was something else I should have been doing.

Since I can’t really afford dance classes and am without my cache of art supplies, I’ve written more work, have a conscious submission schedule, and avoid shopping, soaps, and sugar overload.

Creating a schedule for myself keeps me from waking up every morning feeling like a total loser even if doesn’t keep me from being in a relative state of constant depression and pissed off-ness.

At least in that little way, I’m taking some semblance of charge of a situation over which I have painfully little control.

By the way: unemployment still sucks.  Even if I can wake up at 9, take middle of the day naps,  and stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning.  Hell, I did that before.

Coming Up Next:  My Positive (Okay, Maybe Not That Positive) Spin On Being Single

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