Two weeks ago, I called family members to inform them I’d just left my job. Though some relatives advised me to just enjoy life and refrain from fretting about the logistics of my decision, others worried I’d made a mistake.
“The economy is still awful, you know,” my brother said. “Besides, what are you going to do with your time now?”
And the was the real problem. Having endured months of unemployment upon graduating college, I knew the stress of having no income all too well. The bigger issue, however, was not my lack of Benjamins but the lifestyle I adopted during non-working periods. Thankfully, I’m just days away from kissing this lifestyle goodbye, as I start a new job next week, but here are some non-financial reasons why unemployment is a serious bummer.
10. You stop all personal grooming
Though I always maintain good hygiene, I definitely go into Survivor mode when not working. I quit applying makeup (the break gives my skin a chance to breathe!), live in my Goddesswear stretch pants or Victoria’s Secret sweats, and wear my favorite college t-shirts. All of this is fine when I’m alone, but horrifying for the poor coffee shop baristas who have to see me every morning (all right, let’s be realistic here, every afternoon at 1:00 p.m., after I’ve finally hauled my ass out of the apartment) and try to hide the fact that I scare them more and more each day. As Steve Carell says in 40-Year-Old-Virgin, “This is not a good look for me!”
9. You get in touch with your inner singer
Up until two weeks ago, I forgot that I once loved American Idol and considered becoming a singer. That was in high school, when someone somewhere said I had a decent voice and recommended I audition for musicals. Instead of going after the role of Eliza Doolittle for the school production of My Fair Lady, I belted out Kelly Clarkson and Whitney Houston whenever I had the house tomyself. Now that I’m mostly alone in my apartment all day, I sing constantly. Think Emma Stone in Easy A, only I’m not so much interested in Natasha Bedingfield renditions but crooning Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and the Beauty and the Beast theme song. As much as I like pretending to be Rachel from Glee and all that, the truth is I would have known by now if I was destined to be a pop star, and it’s no use imagining myself performing awkwardly before Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera on The Voice at this point.
8. Too much alone time
Nothing is worse than only having your roommate’s cats to hang out with during the day. As much as I adore Frankie and Olive, they’d rather sleep than keep me company.
7. Too many awful movie marathons
As made obvious by my latest post on all awful Netflix films, I have an odd affinity for movies that are so bad they’re good. With all the free time I’ve had, I’ve been able to see some of the worst romantic comedies ever made. When your days blend together and morale is low, the best thing to do is watch a movie that will be so dreadful you’ll laugh for hours. But then you actually know the plotline of a film titled Beauty and the Briefcase and conclude that your parents failed raising you.
6. You become a gym rat
As I noted in my blog on Superbowl Sunday, I used to feel irrational hatred towards Claire Dunphy, a fictional character on Modern Family. For a mother of three, Claire has an enviable body. She looks amazing, but the only reason she’s in such good shape is because she doesn’t work and has time to run eight miles a day. I complained about this endlessly before I left my job and became a gym rat myself. Though I enjoy having the fitness center to myself during off hours and restoring my jogging stamina, I’ve realized being a gym rat or work-out addict is nothing to be proud of. Take that, Mrs. Dunphy, and while you’re at it, give me your husband Phil. I like him.
5. You become the leisurely people you despise
Since obtaining my bachelor’s in 2010, I’ve been known to take shots at grad students (thank you, 30 Rock!) for having too much free time and expecting their employed friends to party the nights away as if getting up at 6:30 for work is optional. Because I’ve had no schedule for the past two weeks, I’ve been the naive jerk who thinks people can socialize at any given time. Nope, they’re only available onweekends, just like I was for the longest time and will be next week. Can’t wait to return to that routine!
4. You spend too much time in gross restaurants
I have a soft spot for diners and hearty foods, and you don’t want to know how many times I visited The Diner in Chelsea over the last few weeks. I typically order grilled cheese, tomato soup, and coffee, and though I will always love the low-key atmosphere of diners, there’s something seriously pathetic and depressing about frequenting them more than once a month, let alone solo. I wrote in my blog that this made me almost as pathetic as anti-heroine Mavis in Young Adult, but thankfully I found another restaurant before I could reach that point. T.G.I. Fridays became my next place, and it provided me with a perfectly balanced diet: Two pieces of grilled chicken, broccoli, and mashed potatoes. I thought life couldn’t get better than that, but apparently The Standard in the West Village is pretty impressive and attracts celebrities like the hottie from We Need to Talk About Kevin, so I should go there next time I want to go out…and have a friend accompany me.
3. You have no idea how to talk about yourself
On the east coast, the first question people ask upon meeting you is, “What do you do?” Because I cannot summarize to save my life, I end up telling these poor souls my entire life story before they’ve even known me for a second. It goes something along the lines of, “Well, I was working for this one place two weeks ago, but now I’m looking around for other opportunities. ” I give far more information than either of us would like, all because I simply don’t know how to talk about myself when unemployed, at least in a part of the world that measures success by career accolades, power, and wealth. New York and D.C., you really need to be more like California.
2. You either eat too much or too little
Last week, I’d go entire afternoons on just a single organic blueberry cereal bar and one cup of water, but I’ve been eating like a king since Monday. I can demolish an entire box of Annie’s organic pasta, consume 3 pieces of marinated chicken, and still have room for dessert. I can also finish a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked in two days, and these habits are just getting too expensive and making it much harder for me to exercise.
1. You miss out on awesome coworkers
I miss this most, as I’ve been lucky to have supportive, fun, and hilarious colleagues in my career. There’s something nice about seeing friends in the evening and coworkers during the day, and I can’t wait to start at my new office so I can get to know some of the phenomenal, dynamic, and creative folks there. Never underestimate the value of solid office friendship.