Being Unemployed

I’m currently unemployed (spoiler alert: Silicon Valley tech company meltdown).

I’m surprisingly enjoying it.

Moutain range
The world is beautiful. So is freedom. Photo by Simon Matzinger

I haven’t had a break in between jobs since… ever. I graduated from university on a Friday and I worked that following Monday. Since then, whenever I left a job (or if a company exploded), I started again the next available week. This happened non-stop for 9 years.

I finally get a chance to breathe.

At first, I felt okay knowing my severance package would last me a couple of months. I soon grew anxious thinking, “Why aren’t I worried about not having a job?” and then continued getting more concerned about that dreadful software engineering interview process.

Then something unexpected happened: I started to like being unemployed. I had so much time to work on projects and to run (important) errands I have been putting off.

Paper, pen, and coffee on desk
Time + coffee + paper = creative mind at work. Photo by @kaboompics

There was time to write. I got more time to learn photography. I intimately hung out with a friend I haven’t seen for almost a decade in a country I have never visited. I got my finances in check, put together a solid retirement plan and a shorter-term 10-year portfolio goal. I got some dental deep cleaning done in two problem areas. I started working on my website again, which is still lacking so many things I want to add in.

And most importantly, it allowed me the chance to think clearly about my values and priorities. It got me wondering; work truly sucks.

I understand some people find work fulfilling, as it may be one of the core pillars of their values and definitions of success. But for me, I don’t want to work for the sake of making a living. That sounds like a waste of life. I want to work for meaning. I want to work for something impactful. The way I have been working just hasn’t been… working for me.

Deep dark blue sea
Deep and not-so-happy thoughts. Photo by Blaque

I quickly grew resentful at the thought of my life: working 5 days a week, 9:00 am-6:00 pm (me in tech), and too tired/lacking enough time to do anything creative or productive once I get home. Rinse and repeat. What a sad living. I don’t want to continue doing this.

I LOVE building things. I love learning new efficient ways to build these things someone needs. I just want to do it for a meaningful purpose, something that impacts someone’s life, impacts society. Can’t I do that for a good cause? Can’t I just work for a company, to build a service or product, that helps someone? Even if it’s for a mum/pop bakery, I think that’s a pretty good direct impact. I’m probably going to have to take a pay cut, but I’m okay with it.

I’m finding ways to fill in the free hours with activity. I’m starting to struggle to find a company that will get back to me about my application though. Turns out cold applications are hard to get across! I have connections to plenty of startups and some big companies that don’t necessarily match my values, but I’m wanting to put my values first.

Railroad tracks
Multiple tracks, but forward. Photo by Pixabay

My problem now, then, is how long am I willing to wait for the right opportunity? I’m not wealthy and still have to pay the bills and build something for my future. I’m not quite at that point where I am willing to leave the tech industry, but I am getting close.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a home I own and have a job where I can use my two hands doing some kind of trade? I want to be a cobbler. I want to own a romantic bed and breakfast with a nice garden and some goats. I want my friend to be my cook.

Bloom in process. Photo by Gelgas

Let me dream while I’m unemployed. It won’t last forever, but I’m thankful for having a breath of fresh air and time to think about what is important to me. That is invaluable.

Written by Mee Cha who is probably twiddling her thumbs wondering what's next on the menu. Github | LinkedIn | Instagram

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