The form we used to enroll new students in the GED program I worked for collected basic information for various uses. One of the sections asked potential students to check employed, unemployed or not in the labor force. With most students I had to explain the distinction; unemployed means you don’t have a job and you are looking for one while not in the labor force means you don’t have a job and are not currently looking for one, for whatever reason. (Such as disability, full time student, stay at home parent, etc.) As someone who is truly unemployed for the first time in my life I see that it is so much more than that.
I got my first job as soon as I graduated high school and spent the next fifteen years working. At that point I decided to be home with my kids full time. Being home was certainly an adjustment and, of course, we had to trim our budget but I never really considered myself unemployed because this was my choice. Even though I didn’t know about that “not in the labor force’ distinction at the time I still felt it. But now I find myself home full time again and it is not my choice and I feel that distinction too.
I feel annoyed and frustrated that I am not in control of my own work choices.
I feel like the work that I was so dedicated to and passionate about has been devalued.
I feel conflicted about where to go from here because I quickly realized that perhaps I had taken on too many hours and that my kids still need me to be a bit more available.
I feel anxious at the thought of strangers pouring over my resume, comparing me to others, deciding if I’m good enough. (I know it’s really more about finding the right fit but that’s not how it feels.)
I often find myself feeling bored literally to tears on the days when I don’t need to go anywhere and don’t want to waste gas for something unnecessary.
I feel selfish for worrying about all of these things when other people are suffering in much more significant ways. I mean, isn’t this just is a list of first world problems. (My dislike of that phrase is a whole other blog post.)
I feel like I don’t have the right to spend money on things that aren’t an absolute need right now even though we aren’t exactly in dire financial straits at this point.
But it’s not all bad (which I know is a fact of my own privilege which I fully acknowledge and am grateful for).
I feel a guilty pleasure in not having to be somewhere every day.
I feel rested since I can sleep in if I want.
I feel strangely fulfilled in many ways because I have time for things I love but was neglecting (like blogging!).
I guess mostly I feel that this too shall pass so I might as well take the opportunity to learn, reevaluate, rest, write, plan and just be.