This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks.


unemployed

I’ll preface this by saying that I am thankful for my situation. Everyone’s situation is different, and this is my story.

After a year working at my alma mater after college, in my chosen field, I quit my job to move to a bigger city a few hours away. I had been interviewing at several companies in the month or two leading up to the move, and had gotten far, but I hadn’t found a new position yet. I was nervous, moving somewhere new without a job, but I was convinced that it would be easier once I was living in the same city where I was looking for a job. I was sure it would be easier when I didn’t have my old full-time position taking up valuable time where I could be going on interviews and coffee dates, not to mention searching for and filling out applications. Yes, I was nervous, but I was certain everything would fall into place at the right time.

Thankfully, I was right. However, my vision of what the “right time” was was way, way off. I spent almost four and a half months unemployed. Luckily, I had saved and planned for living without a paycheck and I had wonderful friends and family who let me crash on their couches and store my things in their spare rooms while I waited to get myself settled. But that doesn’t mean those months weren’t filled with a generous helping of embarrassment, pain, and a lot of hard work.

So the title of this story says that I’m thankful for unemployment. And I’m overly aware that this is definitely only a thankfulness that can come when you are looking back on unemployment from your cozy office chair. Living in unemployment brings out a whole slew of other emotions. But I am looking back. And looking back I know I’m thankful to have a sense of what I can live on, who I can count on, and what I want out of life.

I’ve always been a fairly frugal person. I indulge in little luxuries now and then, but I have loans, pay my own bills, and buy the generic brand of butter at the grocery store. From the start I maintained that throughout my unemployment, I wanted to continue paying off my student loans even though I wasn’t bringing in any new income.

Being able to plan and budget for those expenses, and to exercise the self control to execute that budget, was an extremely powerful thing for me. Maybe to some who are wiser than I am wouldn’t need the same amount of effort here, but putting this skill into practice was so gratifying. It made me put much of how I look at and spend my resources into perspective, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

Being unemployed brought out incredible kindness in the people around me. I have always had great people in my life, but it’s rare that I’ve had to really call upon their kindness. It’s a humbling experience, unemployment. It’s so difficult to express your gratitude to the people in your life who help you in times like that. All you can do is hold on to that gratitude and promise to pass it on. I am so thankful I had a chance to see this kindness in my friends and family.

Unemployment, and the string of interviews that came along with it, ended up looking a lot like a open house for all of these different unique and interesting companies. Unemployment allowed me to take a peek inside dozens of organizations and workspaces in a short amount of time. It allowed me to dip my toe in and see what I liked and what I didn’t. And while the feelings were not always mutual (I can think of a few places I thought would be my dream job that never called back) it did give me a much better idea of the kind of company I want to work for, the kind of people I want to work with and the work that I want to do.

Because of unemployment I can say without any hesitation that I love my job and know I’m incredibly lucky to have it. I’ve seen and met with so many other organizations and for now I don’t have to wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else. Because I was unemployed I know that this is exactly where I want to be and I know that I have to hustle and work hard and earn my living because it is a privilege to do what you love and get paid to do so. I am so thankful to unemployment for teaching me that.

READ MORE  Picking Up the Financial Pieces if You Get Fired