Ten awesome things you get to do when you’re unemployed

I am the sub-editor (and sometimes contributor) at the fledgling street press, The Feed, here in Sydney. A couple of days ago, I published this article on The Feed, which I thought I’d share with you, my readers – because many of you are unemployed/underemployed/just generally poor, and this list was intended to make those of you having a shitty time job hunting/being poor smile and remember the good times unemployment has brought you…

Australia’s unemployment rates might be relatively low compared to many parts of Europe and the US, but they’re still incredibly high for the lucky country that we’ve been raised in and that means about five per cent of us are out there, desperately seeking work, to no avail. The stats are even higher if you’re between 18 and 25 – that age bracket has nearly 20 per cent unemployment.

I know unemployment, I’ve lived it and I know it sucks hard. In the two years since I graduated university, I’ve completed two stints of long term unemployment in two years (both eight months each), scraping by on the dole, begging anyone and everyone to look at my measly resume in the hopes of a minimum wage, shit kicking job that might give me a shot at being something, someday.

But, being freshly employed full time again has given me a little bit of nostalgia for my endless days of couch-sitting and job-hunting and so I’ve compiled a list of all the best things about unemployment – many of which kept me motivated during my toughest days. So without further ado…

So here are the top ten reasons unemployment is AWESOME:

#1 – Sleeping In

What time did you get up this morning? I bet it was after 9am, because you’re unemployed so screw waking up at 7am like the rest of the workforce sheep, you’re going to sleep in and bloody well enjoy it. Plus, you probably sat in your pyjamas until like… midday, right? People look forward to doing that on a Sunday, but you get to do it every day.

#2 – Get Outdoors

Desks suck, man. Sitting at a piece of wood on four legs all day is the absolute balls and isn’t exactly good for your health anyways. Unemployment means long walks and exploring new parts of the city, do a little research and find the best parks to explore and hang out in.

#3 – Get Drunk On A Work Night

That’s right, you can have a hangover on Tuesday morning because you don’t have work the next day – it’s just like being a student again. That bottle of wine you cracked open for the risotto? Drink it all, don’t share it, you might as well – and if nothing else, it will numb the pain of the endless rejection that comes with job hunting.

#4 – Visit Your Town’s Tourist Attractions

In most big cities, the state-run museums and art galleries are free (or at least incredibly cheap) and on a Monday or Tuesday they are DEAD. This is the perfect time to visit, as the only other people you’ll be competing with to get a good look at something will be elderly people, and we all know you’re much faster and stronger than they are.

#5 – Join your local library

Yes, there is a library near you and it’s free to join. This not only means access to thousands of books for no money (and did you know that if they don’t have the book you want, they’ll get it for you for free!), they also have DVDs, CDs, computers with free internet access and usually a local history collection, so you can learn about your neighbourhood. On top of all that free stuff, they also run reading groups, hold talks with authors, showcase plays and dances and have crafting groups. These all sound a bit cheesy, but what have you got to lose? You’re unemployed and you might even make a new friend.

#6 – Volunteer

Ok so you don’t have a job, so what’s the next best thing without going back to yet ANOTHER miserable, dead end internship? Volunteering. Think small, go and read at an aged care home, play games with children at the children’s hospital or walk dogs for the animal shelter. You might need to undertake some training before you’re allowed to volunteer – but (as selfish as this sounds), while you’re making someone’s life a little easier or brighter, you’re also improving yourself. It’s a win/win.

#7 – Movie and TV Marathons

I kept myself ridiculously busy when I was unemployed, to the point my friends used to wonder if I actually really was unemployed, as I always had something on. But there were weeks when I would be stuck at home, trapped in my own head, driving myself insane. I ended up seeing a psychologist, who told me that when I was stuck in a rut of self doubt that I should turn on the television. He said find a series or a movie that would get me thinking or make me laugh, to distract me. Simple as that. Been meaning to catch up on something? Microwave some popcorn and settle into the couch, you’ve had a hard week of job hunting, you deserve it!

#8 – Pursue A (cheap) Hobby

I’m a keen cook and baker, but when I was employed full time, I didn’t have time to create masterpieces or try complex new things. Unemployment gave me time to learn how to fold Chinese dumplings and try out different icing techniques on cakes. You could try sewing, knitting, origami, painting, music or writing (to name a few). That last one is the cheapest of them all and I meet people every day who wish they were a writer like I am. It’s not hard, anyone can be a writer but you have to write every day if you want to hone your craft. Sometimes you’ll spend hours on something and then throw it in the bin because it’s rubbish, but it’s not wasted time because you just keep improving. When you’ve got something you think is worth a read, send it to a friend and ask for feedback – you might be the next big thing and just not know it yet.

#9 – Get Fit

Exercise doesn’t have to cost money, if you’ve got a pair of sneakers, you can get out and start moving. Combine this with suggestion number two to keep yourself motivated and interested – cycling or jogging the same route every day gets boring quickly. On rainy days, you can still exercise – search for Zumba (or for the lolz, Cher’s work out videos) on YouTube for fun ways to get moving in your lounge room.

#10 – Keep Smiling

There will be shit days, seriously shit days when you want to throw in the towel and give up on ever being any sort of success because no one will give you a chance and if you get one more rejection letter, you will explode. You’ll cry over the smallest of things and getting out of bed will be a huge effort, but you can keep these days to a minimum by keeping yourself busy – find something, anything, to fill your days. Who knows, you might just fall into a new job or career path while you’re trying to distract yourself?