some thoughts on a year of unemployment.

it’s quite wild to think that i have not had a full-time job for over a year.

that’s not to say i’ve not been working. i have enjoyed a random assortment of side hustles, from dog sitting to freelance facilitation to some independent consulting, but it has been a full year since i had regular meetings and good health insurance and a steady income.

for the most part, aside from that regular paycheck, i’ve not missed much. a year ago i was mentally and emotionally drained, and the break was very much needed. i gave myself time and space to process what was a very significant chapter of my life before working on next steps, and i strongly believe i am better for it.

as i wrap up final rounds of interviews and wait to hear back about offers and funding for positions, i have been thinking a lot about what i have learned over the last year. i will say now that this will be one of those rambling posts for which i am famous, so grab a snack and let’s settle in.

moving without a job was risky but was also the best thing i could have done for myself. toward the end of last year i could feel myself becoming frustrated with the lack of movement on the job front and the feeling of being “stuck” in memphis. it was a big risk to move to a new city — and to new york city, no less — without a job, but the change of scenery and the energy of the city worked wonders in lifting my spirits and reinvigorating me. within two weeks of being here friends were commenting on how much happier i appeared, and it really drove home how important my surrounding environment is in boosting my mood.

i wish everyone had the privilege of taking time off between life chapters. i wrote about this in a post last year, and it still holds true for me. i have been lucky enough to have had chunks of time between jobs multiple times, and it makes such a difference to know i won’t carry over baggage from role to role. i really wish this was something that could be more universally accessible.

i’ve gotten good at giving my elevator pitch. between informational interviews and real interviews, i have had a lot of practice in answering the ‘tell us about yourself’ question. i have my keywords down pat, and based on head nods and smiles i have a good idea of which points resonate the most with people.

it took me a long time to get over the shame of saying i am unemployed when people ask me what i do. we are so conditioned to ask people “what do you do” when we first meet, and it took me many months to shed the stigma of not having a job when responding to people. never mind that i am intentionally unemployed, that i left a job because i needed to prioritize myself for a while. as soon as that question popped up, “so what do you do”, i would get awkward and make a joke. i sometimes still do, but in general i’ve gotten better at embracing it and speaking about it honestly.

i am very, very grateful for my village. my friends have been truly amazing over the last year. from sending me job postings to connecting me to their networks to reviewing my resume and especially to listening to me drone on and on about organizations and roles and frustrations and wins and all the things, they have been there for me in so many ways both big and small. and then there’s my family: they fed me many meals, they helped me out immensely with my move, and they have made sure i know i always have their support throughout this entire process. i am incredibly lucky.

this process isn’t yet fully over, but i can see the light at the end of the tunnel. and i can honestly say i am looking forward to a regular schedule again.


2 thoughts on “some thoughts on a year of unemployment.

  1. Stuart Danker says:

    I am in one such chapter ‘in between lives’, and I too have been very fortunate to have been able to experience life without a day job nagging at me. It’s given me time to realise what’s truly important in my life and what isn’t. And once I rejoin the workforce, I’ll be able to manage my life better. Anyway, wishing you all the best!


    1. veena says:

      I’m so glad you’ve been able to experience a similar chapter! It really does make such a difference in how you prioritize. Sending you all the best wishes! 🙂


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