A month and a half ago, I left my work office for the last time. It was not a voluntary departure - I was being laid off. The truth is, I suspected that my days on that job were numbered when phrases like "cost cutting" and "restructuring" were used in meetings to explain the massive layoffs that preceded in the months leading up to the end of the fiscal year. And if I am being honest with myself, it was time to move on from that job anyway. It's just that I had pictured the transition a little differently in my head.
I was somewhat mentally prepared for the diminished monthly income that was to follow. It was the emotional roller-coaster of unemployment that caught me by surprise. So here they are: the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of my unemployment.
I am not a morning person. The morning of my first day of unemployment was glorious - I slept in till noon, and there was no alarm clock in sight. Much to the chagrin of my early bird husband, within days, I reverted to my natural circadian rhythm of waking up late and staying up till three in the morning. And another amazing thing happened - I was no longer constantly stressed! Without the dread of showing up to an unfulfilling job haunting me every morning, it seemed I could actually look forward to my day.
There was lots to do in my free time. Little things that were put on the backburner during the crazy busy days of wedding planning and working two jobs needed to be taken care of. I finally started updating my name on all the accounts, and my eyes thanked me for getting new prescription glasses that were at least half a year overdue. With no one dictating my vacation schedule, I was able to visit my family for a week without worrying about using up those precious "personal time off" hours. In short, unemployment was wonderful and freeing. But it wasn't all sunshine and roses.
Sure, it was time to leave that job, but I would have rather done it on my own terms. It stung to feel like I was being discarded because my services were no longer needed. The reality was much more complicated and economically involved, but the feeling remained the same nonetheless.
And then there is the issue of actual unemployment, which comes with no income. Suddenly, our budget had shrunk in half, and we had to adjust to a new lifestyle. It's nice to be able to talk proudly about bargain hunting when you are doing it as a hobby, but it's a whole different ball game when you can't even afford to buy those bargains because you have to pay the rent and put dinner on the table. And speaking of dinner, we came to the unpleasant realization that we could no longer afford to dine out, as restaurant bills apparently made up a significant portion of our credit card bills. We are still adjusting to our new financial situation, but there is another side to unemployment that I am having the hardest time dealing with.
When I became aware of the impending layoff, it was not the lack of income that concerned me the most - I knew that we could figure something out on that front. What really worried me was becoming a housewife, by default. I was so scared of this prospect that I had to have a talk with D about how just because I was going to be unemployed didn't mean that I would suddenly be responsible for all the house chores. He never did expect me to magically turn into a housewife overnight, the fear was mostly in my own head. But I had to make it clear nevertheless.
Doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, cooking dinner - those are things that never appealed to me. I do not find doing chores a satisfying or fulfilling activity. And even despite my loudest protests, it just so naturally happens that I have a lot more free time on my hands than D, and so I end up doing a lot more taking care of the house lately than I normally would. But I can't say that all the chores fell into my lap. It's true, I cook most dinners lately, but D is still the one cleaning the floors and doing most of the laundry. This division of labor brings me some relief from my fears of becoming a housewife.
And yet. The latest ugly side of unemployment that recently crept up is extreme boredom. I have mostly finished taking care of all those loose ends that were previously put on the backburner within the first month of losing my job. Now, I don't know what to do with myself. I think it's time to come up with a daily or weekly routine to bring some sanity back into my world. I'll let you know how that goes.
Mostly, I just hope to find a job soon and put an end to this unemployment.