Thursday, March 8, 2012

Being unemployed is really boring.

I live in a great location, with beaches, parks and mutiple opportunities for attending free talks, museums, art galleries, live music and comedy. I am perfectly healthy and capable of getting out and about. I have multiple forms of accessible transport options. I have reliable access to old and new media forms. I am securely housed.

I exercise, I volunteer, I go to the library, I go to talks, I visit mothers of new babies and take baked goods when I do. I do the housework and have got my finances in order. I have time to chat. To anyone. I have time to give detailed directions to people who are lost. Hell, I have time to walk them to the nearest bus stop and wait with them until the right bus arrives.

Fuck I'm bored.

After spending more than a decade under intense pressure to get stuff done ALL THE TIME, I now have more free time than I know what to do with. While on the one hand, it's been great to finally get around to doing all the things that somehow never get done when you're working all the time, on the other hand, once they are done there isn't a real lot else left to do.

Hell, I am so bored I have almost finished reading David Foster Wallace's unfinished and posthumously published novel The Pale King, which in itself is a treatise on boredom. And tax. I now know a lot about the IRS. I thought our tax system was complex, but the IRS is positively Kafkaesque.

I digress.

I am so bored I have even started writing a journal article. Something I swore I was never going to do again. But hey, I have free library access and a few colleagues who think I am still into the academic thing so I might as well keep going. Maybe it is just one more paper that will get me across the line... (I am joking - I know it won't make a difference).

I am so bored that I looked up interest groups at our community centre the other day and briefly entertained the notion of joining the knitting and sewing group. I still might re-learn how to knit (I can already sew very  well thank you), but the group time clashes with my volunteering duties.  

I have spent a lot of time upskilling, writing job applications and attending interviews too, so it's not as if I am just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

But there is one inescapable fact that I can't avoid - I actually liked being under pressure to get stuff done. Unlike most people who feel guilty that they're not working or who feel like a fraud if they leave the office early, I actually had really good work life balance, a challenging role and a good income.

I miss those things. But most of all, I miss work. Heaven help me when I have to retire. 


  1. Like you, I'm finding this difficult too. For me, I'm finding it takes a lot of energy and hard 'work' to be unemployed and not feel guilty about it. It's an interesting time, to say the least, in terms of the way it makes you rethink what it is that makes-up your identity. So many of the days spent unemployed are filled with asking yourself who you are and who you want to be. I was also in the middle of writing and researching more of a potential academic article that I had to put on hold last summer when I got a contract job. I told myself I'd work on it because I had out so much into it, why not try to wrap it up and send it out? After much more thought and reminding myslef about peer-review (and how awful that is!) I decided just the other day to give it up. Relief, yes, and admittedly, feelings of guilt and other stuff (can't do it, I'm no good, I canlt stick it out, etc.). Good luck with your decision-making around that. Be kind to yourself too!

    1. I was unemployed for quite a while immediately after finishing my PhD, so I have had some experience of how much it sucks to be not working. This time around I have really tried to enjoy my 'time off' much more by reminding myself that it wasn't going to last for ever. And it hasn't. And I already regret the two days I wasted making myself do things I didn't want to do (ie writing job applications) because I didn't get a very vital phone message. It was perfect beach weather! And I was inside on my laptop wondering what kind of work I could do.

  2. I am concerned about how I'll handle my own impending "sabbatical," as I've been mentally referring to my unemployment. I have this bad feeling that "worry" will become my new activity of choice to fill the boredom :(

    1. It's hard to stave off the worry. I was kind of able to shelve it by reminding myself that I wasn't going to be homeless for a while and that I could always get a job in a cafe when things reached a certain critical level. I did have a lot of sleepless nights wondering if I would have to beg for a bed at a family member's house one day. It also helped knowing that for 17 years I have supported myself with part-time, casual and contract work and that I have always been ok. Somehow. So will you.

  3. I know this is old but I am running into the same thing. Somehow, as soon as I got laid off, my body alarm would wake me up at 7 am every day. I enjoyed having days off at first. Then my body started getting used to it. I started waking up later, not working out and just becoming worried about everything. Is as if something holds me back from going forward. I need structure and I don't have it right now. This really sucks. I don't know what to do with myself. I can't even wake up early anymore!!!


  4. i was engineering graduate.. im getting bored being unemploye....can any one gimme suggesion how to get a job r someting... thanks in advance.....

  5. I've been unemployed for over a year now. Most days I find enough to do, though admittedly some of it is just busy-work. I decided to try to make this an introspective time period, keeping myself grounded and trying to learn about what makes me tick and why. I've learned some, I've worked through the anger of being fired after 7 years in the same job, and I've come to terms with my own faults and foibles which contributed to my being let go.

    But after a year's time, I have now found myself not really sure what to do with myself, and increasingly I stay in the house. I'm a little bit of a hermit anyway, and have to kick myself in the butt now and then to get out and do stuff, but with winter coming on here in the midwest, I'd like to find a part-time job that I could do mostly at home so I wouldn't have to go out in the cold.

    I must have been a hermit in my past life.....LOL!
    We all handle this differently, and we still all come around to the boredom part, when you're working you daydream about being home, when you're home, you think about how you felt like you "were" someone with responsibility when you were working.
    It's a conundrum.

  6. If you are unemployed, you are mainly reliant on an income protection quote to help you get by. But, that will only help you out in a short period of time. You will eventually need to do something about your unemployment issue.

  7. Being unemployed is not an easy state to be in, but fortunately, there are some ways to get out of it. Since you have a Ph.D., there should be enough job options waiting for you. Just hang in there, hope, and work for the best.
    Kevin Burr @ Barracuda Staffing

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