The best and worst thing about temporary work is that it is temporary. What a Catch 22.
Unleashed into the world after a cushiony-soft four month contract, my plan was to take two weeks of relaxation, having lined up something else in the meantime. I had another equally wonderful job in the pipeline which I was highly excited about, and just as I was packing up my desk to leave job number one, I got a blunt and brutal rejection email for job number two. So my two weeks to relax has quickly turned into unlimited time to panic.
Everyone has mythical “savings” that materialize and disappear over the years. Some of these come from the magical Gringott’s fund otherwise known as “parents,” and some people have the smarts to just put aside some solid cash for a rainy day.
I have neither. To clarify, I have parents, but they have already been generous beyond their means (including their current situation of housing and feeding me at the age of 25), so the magic parental fund has definitely dried up, and I’m pretty sure they don’t believe me when I casually refer to my “savings account” over dinner. It doesn’t exist. Sorry, Mom.
I have enough money to survive these two weeks, but I should have enough to put a down payment on a house. However, I am terrible with money.
As soon as I get paid, I spend like a prince. I buy rounds, I book trips, I eat out all the time and I splurge on beauty treatments and skincare products that I cannot afford but insist that I need because I am aging – and have an entire wrinkle to prove it.
Conveniently, or perhaps inconveniently, this same two weeks my beloved parents have chosen to take their summer vacation in Spain, so I have the house to myself where I can disguise my thrifty semi-impoverished behavior.
The two main problems of being “out of work right now” or “in between jobs right now” (a/k/a unemployed right now) are of course, money and BOREDOM. Everyone else is in work, or in my parents’ case, on vacation. So every day from 9-5, I have to amuse myself. Here’s how to survive.
1. Scrimp and scrounge. If you have a change-jar, empty it immediately and take out all the big coins, then put all the smaller ones back in so it looks like you took nothing. This is your “petty cash” which can be used for frivolous expenditure that requires small change, such as public transport and coffee. That way, you’re not touching your fragile bank account and spending any of your “real” money.
2. Embrace the outdoors. It is summer, so take advantage of the fact that you can be outside. The best two things that come from this are the freedom to exercise (see point three) and the ability to tan hard. Everyone else is indoors, wearing suits, sweating it out – you, on the other hand, are on the beach or at the park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. soaking up key afternoon rays. When it gets to the weekend they will be so stunned by your summertime glow that your unemployment will be totally overlooked! Hurrah!
3. Get fit. No time like the present, and no more room for the excuse that you have no time. You have all the time in the world! Aren’t you so lucky? So you can’t afford a gym membership or fancy equipment, but you have feet and legs and surely a pair of sneakers gathering dust somewhere, so get out there and run the blues away.
I am training for a half-marathon. If you know me, which I imagine some of you feel like you do at this point, you will understand how insurmountable this seems as I am basically a human slug with the fitness levels of such.
However, when you’re FUN-employed, there ain’t no mountain high enough and all that jazz. Again, when the weekend rolls around and you appear with your dynamite legs, people won’t care where you go or don’t because they’ll only want to hear about your incredible training program and fitness regime. Which brings me nicely to point four.
4. Get healthy: Not in a crazy, skinny girl kind of way, but in a taking-advantage-of-your-situation kind of way. You’re watching the pennies, so you’re not eating out which means you are cooking at home, which means you are completely in control of what you are putting into your body. You also can’t afford fancy fatty foods so stock up on healthy foods that you can bulk-buy, and finally kick-start that diet you’ve been banging on about since January.
I always find this is so much harder to do in an office environment because there’s the temptation to buy something for lunch, to munch on snacks in the coffee room, to go out for drinks after work, etc. – but when you’re a total loner with no one to hang out with, you can eat really healthily and cheaply and not have anyone bug you because you’re using low-cal spray instead of olive oil. Take advantage of the solidarity while you have it!
And again, the payoff lies in the weekend when you can smugly regale everyone with your new collection of recipes that are making you feel so zen and relaxed, you don’t miss work at all!
5. Get creative: I am just back from the store where I used my “petty cash” fund to buy some fresh sheets of paper, sticky notes, fancy new pens, etc. (stationery is my heroin) and I’m about to lay out some stellar ideas on paper and sticky tack them to my wall like a maniac. You’ve had all these wonderful imaginations and innovations running through your brain while you were a slave to 'the man,' but now you’re free!
Spill the contents of that delicious brew onto paper and watch the magic happen. You’ll surprise yourself with what new kinds of goals and ambitions you have.
When I walked out of job number one with rejection email for job number two open on my phone, tears welling up in my eyes, I was at 100 percent panic and devastation. Then I got a really cheesy but uplifting text from my dad that had about 400 cliches in it, but he was right.
One door closed is another door open, and things happen for a reason, and sometimes taking a break to recalibrate is much better than rushing into something else. So get fit, get healthy, get creative and get it together.
Enjoy your FUN-employment because soon (yes, soon) it will be gone and you’ll be lusting after those days of joyous freedom. Embrace it while it lasts.