Last carefree days … of summer … of unemployment

(Repost from last summer — I’m moving some items over from my website)

I have read some good job hunting advice as well as some bad and downright condescending advice. A good deal of it, honestly, makes you feel like you’re not doing enough. Or worse, that there’s something inherently wrong with you that’s making you unemployable.

Here, on the other hand, was a refreshing piece I liked from CollegeAftermath.com: Enjoy this insecure, adrift, wandering phase of your life. Because with all certainty, it won’t last. Someday you will have a job, you will be settled, and you will – absolutely – reminisce about the days when all you had to do was wake up and explore the possibilities of where your life will go. … Entertain your craziest ambitions and remember that the choices you make now will affect the rest of your life. And if nothing else, enjoy the fact that you can sleep in, eat breakfast by the computer, and spend the day wallowing in your life and the direction you want to take it.”

As I head into the new week and consider that Tuesday I’ll be leaving my own “carefree” unemployed state, I reread this advice and hope I can remember it. Did I enjoy life as much as I could? No, I worried a lot and I was sometimes depressed. I overextended myself, sometimes blindly, researching, sending out job applications and exploring new skills to learn, in case I had to switch careers. I revamped one website, created a new one and launched a freelance business, while looking into new ways to market myself through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I often wondered if I were throwing spaghetti at the wall to see which piece would stick. (Hell, I’m still wondering that.) I also had some actual paid work in the mix.

But I had some fun. I went out with friends, I had lunches, I went hiking or swimming, I did art work, I wrote. It was not my fault I was laid off, and I wasn’t going to punish myself. Nor was I going to become a total couch potato (granted, sometimes I acted like one, but I never let it go on for too long).

My new job is temporary, to the end of the year. I believe that it will work out, and I have hope that it may lead to something else. In the meantime, I will continue to work on freelance editing projects, plus my art work and other creative projects. And I’ll continue to have fun as often as possible.

This afternoon I did something really different for me. It didn’t have anything to do with starting my new job because it had been planned earlier, but once I’d learned I was going back to work it seemed very appropriate as a last weekend adventure. I went to Coney Island in Brooklyn to ride the roller coasters.

Let me explain. I haven’t been on a roller coaster, I think, in over 20 years. But some friends were going and it seemed like a cool thing to do. Honestly, I didn’t know if I’d have the guts to ride anything scarier than the Tilt-a-Whirl.

My friends talked me into riding more coasters than I think I’ve ever ridden during a single afternoon, including the famous Cyclone and newer ones called the Tickler, the Soaring Eagle and the Steeplechase.

The Soaring Eagle, in particular–which rotates you as you ride horizontally, head first–I was particularly nervous about. “You expect me to go on that?” I asked. Again, I let myself be talked into it, trusting that I’d be OK.

And–what a rush!–I loved it. I liked all the rides. I did not come off grumbling, “Why did you make me do that?” No, I felt proud of myself for not chickening out. And … I felt high. In a good way.

I needed this, as I start this next week. I have one more day off, but I’ll be shopping for new work clothes and doing some work-related reading tomorrow. Then it’s back to work for me. Can I handle this next roller coaster? Well … I am a little nervous!

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