15 Things I’ve Learnt From Being Unemployed for 2 Months (and counting)

For many years, I had a nice, peaceful, routine life with a good job and a great employer. But one day in late May, I found out I was going to be laid off in the near future. Though my employer and I parted on excellent terms, reality still applied to me.

Losing your job is a major life change, and it isn’t one of the most pleasant things for someone to experience. I’ve had my emotional ups and downs, wondering how I would pay bills, debating whether I could afford to take a trip, a short vacation, I’d been planning for a while, and breaking out into a sweat whenever I had to tap into my limited savings for … everything. And, of course, trying to invent new ways to spend my time. It’s been a huge adjustment. I don’t know how retirees do it.

Despite that, there’s still a great potential for learning during this in-between period, otherwise known as The Great Uncertainty.

Here’s what I’ve learnt.

1. All of a sudden, you have a LOT of free time. You get to empathise with retirees.

2. You’re motivated to do All The Things with All The Free Time, but sometimes you realise you end up accomplishing Nothing Much.

3. There’s only so much house cleaning one can do.

4. Watching your bank balance increase is fun. Watching it decrease is unfun. (Is unfun a word?)

5. You learn how to be more frugal, yet be satisfied. A 2.10 ringgit (Malaysian currency) bottle of mineral water at the convenience store is only 0.39 if you buy a box of 24 from the hypermarket. A 1.30 bun can be as satisfying as an 8.50 brioche from a patisserie.

6. Moms are a blessing. Having a loved one you can vent to helps you carry on.

7. Friends are a blessing. I’m grateful for my friends, both local and across the world who encouraged and helped me, to the extent of Skyping with me at odd hours to help me be interview ready.

8. Good employers are a blessing. I’m grateful for my former employer who treated me well and gave me a decent wage.

9. You find an even softer spot for those working service and retail. They work very hard for relatively low wages. The least one can do is respect them and be nice towards them. It is humbling to remind yourself that they have a job, while you don’t.

10. It is alright to have days where you feel down. Being unemployed is a major life change. But remind yourself that this too shall pass.

11. You’re not alone, this situation isn’t unique to you. I was surprised at the number of my close friends and acquaintances who were/are in between jobs as well. You have people who can relate with you, and vice-versa.

12. Listening to a sermon or a talk a day is good food for the soul. It helps you with keeping a good perspective on life.

13. For me, this season has been a good ongoing lesson in learning how to listen to and trust God. God is bigger than any situation.

14. You are more than your job description. You’re not defined by your job alone. Loss of job doesn’t mean loss of identity.

15. Always remember that there is hope. Remind yourself that every new day, hour, minute is a chance for a new opportunity. Your new job could be just around the corner, and it could be better than you have ever imagined.

Losing your job can be difficult. If you are currently in between jobs, I hope this article gave you some hope and encouragement. I wish you all the best with your job search, and may we be back among the fold of those employed, soon.


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photo credit: Christopher Rayan/malaysianguy.com

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CHRIS RAYAN is the Associate Editor of IMPACT Magazine. He’s based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While he’s not at work or daydreaming about meeting Mr. Right, he goes to the streets and shoots and flashes people.

You can see the results of his work at www.malaysianguy.com.