Unemployment is a scary word, especially when everything around is saturated with the cult of success, the need to achieve more and more results, without stopping for a second. It is customary to sympathize with those who have not been able to find a job for a long time: what could be worse than a job search that dragged on for many months and forcing to devastate savings? At the same time, the reasons that made a person leave the office for a long time can be very different. And if for some, a prolonged absence from work is the worst nightmare, then for others it is a conscious choice. We talked with people who have not had a job for a long time about the pros and cons of such a life and learned what this experience taught them.
Interview: Alina Kolenchenko
Spent 9 months without work
I started working in my third year of university: I dreamed of becoming a cool financier and gradually gained experience on internships. Then I didn’t ask myself if I really liked the specialty - the only motivation was that in this area you can earn a lot if you try hard. By the time I graduated from university, I was really making good money, but I absolutely didn’t want to wake up in the morning; my job as a financial analyst at a bank turned out to be not so cool at all. I worked ten hours a day and when I came home, sometimes I didn't have the strength to even undress before going to bed.
When I was offered a job at another bank, I decided to quit without hesitation - I thought it would be better in the new job. I was supposed to go there in three months - I spent them on travel, using all my savings. And a couple of days before the expected start of work, they sent me a letter: "Sorry, but we made a decision in favor of another candidate." After crying for a week, I began to go to interviews a little, but it did not bring much result: somewhere I didn’t like me, somewhere I didn’t like it. I was sure that I could quickly find a job, but I was not hired for good positions. I had nothing to pay for the apartment, and in the end I moved in with a guy. So from “strong and independent” I turned into a housewife to whom a man gives money for food and tights.
After four months of unsuccessful searches, I gave up trying. I realized that I didn't really like my specialty, but I had absolutely no idea what I would like to do instead of financial analytics, while earning normally. I spent days at home or walking around the city, from time to time going into a bar to calm obsessive thoughts: I am already twenty, and I still do not know what I want to become when I grow up. And so it went on for nine months.
I was terribly ashamed that I had no job. I avoided communicating with people, because standard questions like "What are you doing?" caused panic - I could not answer them. I considered myself a complete failure. It seemed that I disappointed everyone. I had a lot of free time, but because of the onset of depression, I spent it absolutely meaningless - there was no question of any self-development.
Once on the Internet I came across a book by the entrepreneur Jason Comley, who described his experience of "refusal therapy." I was inspired by his story, and I set myself the goal of going to a hundred interviews. If in the end they don't take me anywhere, I will go to my hometown with a clear conscience to work at a factory and grow potatoes. I started actively responding to vacancies and started a notebook where I noted how many companies had viewed my resume, how many of them called me back, how many were invited for an interview. I responded to everything that was more or less connected with my specialty, so from most interviews I came out with the thought that I did not want to work here. Once I accidentally saw a vacancy from a completely different field - a creative manager in an advertising agency - and realized: this is what I want to do.I went through an interview, and I was immediately hired. For a long time I could not believe my happiness - I finally have a job! Self-esteem has grown, and most importantly, now I am doing what I love. Thanks to a break from work, I was eventually able to find what I liked. So everything turned out to be for the best.
Was unemployed for 14 months
In the last year of the institute, I worked part-time in one of the Moscow hostels and set myself the goal of saving money and going on a trip to Latin America for several months. After receiving my degree in orientalism, I moved to China, where I lived for four years, having changed several jobs. At the last Chinese company, I spent two years as an account manager, and during that time I disciplined and set aside about 40% of every paycheck on travel. As a foreign employee, I earned significantly more than I could in a similar position in Moscow. At the end of 2018, I saved up the required amount and at the same time got laid off. I was paid decent compensation, so in the end the accumulated amount turned out to be even a little more than I had planned. In March, as I dreamed, I flew to Mexico.
I spent fourteen months unemployed, eight of them in Central and South America, and another in the UK with my boyfriend's family (we traveled together too). We did not know if we would return to China after the end of the trip, would be able to stay in Chile or Argentina, or maybe settle in Russia, England or somewhere else.
It was great without work. The coolest thing was that when I went to bed, I knew that if I got up early tomorrow, then not to go to the office, but to meet the dawn in the valley of geysers, visit Machu Picchu or catch the bus to Buenos Aires. From a financial point of view, it was sometimes difficult to stay within budget, but since I made it a rule to write down all expenses from the very first day of travel, it was not so difficult to control them. The main thing in such conditions is to always keep in mind that neither this nor the next month will the bank account be replenished by a ruble, as well as clearly prioritize and choose what is more important for you in a particular situation: comfortable accommodation, an interesting excursion, new jeans or a delicious dinner.
After traveling, within a month, I found a new cool job in Moscow through a job site. Before that, I had forced periods of unemployment for three to four months, and this was really lousy: sitting at home, visiting job sites several times a day and seeing that nothing suitable appeared, unable to pay for an apartment or buy something from clothes. And planned unemployment is quite a comfortable state: you have a material pillow, you decide for yourself how long it will last and how much money you can afford to spend. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to drop everything and leave. It was an amazing experience, but I would not want to live like this all my life.
Spent 8 months without work
I quit my job eight months ago - decided to make myself a birthday present. I was worried about the constant temperature, weakness, frequent colds - it was logical to associate the deterioration of well-being with heavy workload. At first I felt freedom and euphoria: at last I could sleep as much as I wanted and not depend on the boss. But later I seemed to have dropped out of life and lost my tone. She could stay in bed for half a day, stay in the house for days. Fortunately, I had a deposit in the bank and I didn't have to think about finances.
On the one hand, being unemployed is a great opportunity to figure out who you are and what you want. But there is also a second side to the coin - you can get bogged down in a swamp, lose goals and landmarks, lie in bed all day and watch another series. Those close to me could not understand how I could live without work for so long. In messengers, I was constantly sent links to vacancies.I live alone and financially independent, but I was still reproached for being unemployed. These words hurt me, I felt useless.
But in general, there are many advantages in life without work: there is a huge amount of free time that can be spent on hobbies, loved ones, finding oneself and solving everyday problems. When you work 5/2, you have no time to catch your breath, look from the outside at what is happening and ask yourself: "Am I happy?" Now health problems have been resolved, and I plan to get a job in the near future.
Spent 8 months without work
In my second year of graduate school, I got a job in a company where I had to deal with sales - I didn't understand this area at all, but they offered me good money, and I agreed. However, I soon realized that money is not happiness: every morning I woke up with the thought that I hated this job. And in the end he left.
In four months I earned enough to take a break for a while and think about what to do next. I firmly decided that I would not take on anything, and began to send applications for leadership programs to large international companies. In most of them I made it to the final stages of selection, but in the end I never got anywhere: somewhere there were no vacancies in the direction in which I would like to develop, somewhere I had to move to the other end of the country. In the latter company, instead of participating in the leadership program, I was offered a job in a warehouse with a shift schedule somewhere outside the Moscow Ring Road - by that time it was time to move out of the hostel and rent a house, the money ran out, and I thought with horror that I would have to agree. But all the same, he did not want to come back to what he was trying to escape from - an unloved job for the sake of money. Therefore, I got into debt and, with my last bit of strength, continued to search.
In the end, everything worked out: I got into a talent development program in a cool company, just like I dreamed. Those long eight months that I spent without work, I spent absolutely mediocre: in the morning I drank vodka with juice, then played computer games and reflected on why I was failing. But I do not regret anything and now every day I am glad what a great job I have.
Was unemployed for about 6 months
I liked my job - a great team, a seven-hour working day - but at some point I felt that I had nowhere to move on. For quite some time now I have been performing the same tasks as my colleagues in higher positions, but no one was going to raise or increase my salary. I was more and more worried that by the age of twenty I would not have time to become a CEO, wife and happy mother, so I decided to take time out, take a break and think about what to do next. I stayed at home for about six months: I just slept until noon, met with my friends, read, watched TV shows, did everyday things for which there was not enough time before. I wasn't looking for a job. There were no problems with money: I had savings, and you spend much less at home.
When I quit, I thought that now I would finally feel all the positive aspects of this life. But the reality was disappointing. The day passed according to the same scenario: "I don't need anywhere, so you can lie in bed a little longer and get things done at any moment." As a result, I lost all organization: if earlier after work I had time to go to the gym, study language and guitar, now I could not leave the house for a whole week. For example, I rescheduled a visit to the doctor three times, although the clinic is ten minutes' walk from home.
Parents did not like this state of affairs at all. They believed that I was sitting at home, because they didn’t take me anywhere, and they actively tried to help, expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that I was a “quitter and a parasite”, and said that in my position it was necessary to settle at least somewhere, and not wait by the sea of the weather. Absolutely every phone call ended with the phrase “Let's look for a job”, and when I came to visit, my mother and I had “serious conversations” about my life plans.
For a long time I did not dare to send a resume somewhere: it seemed to me that I had not had enough rest. Therefore, I went to the first interview with the thought: "Let me tell you that I am not suitable for you, and I will go on lying." But something happened that I was absolutely not ready for - they hired me, and two weeks later I went to work. You can say I was lucky.
In general, the experience of unemployed life turned out to be positive: thanks to him, I realized that I definitely would not be able to work well outside the office, although I had previously thought about retirement. Now I work more than eight hours a day, and I really manage to get everything planned, and not just write things down in the glider.
Spent about a year without a permanent job
Quitting your job on your own is a pleasure. You prepared the rear in advance, perhaps you have already agreed with a new employer, and this is perceived as the final screensaver to the cartoon about Winnie the Pooh, when the song "Bear, little bear" sounds and there is a light kind sadness in your soul.
When you are laid off on a layoff, it brings psychological discomfort. In our case, it was clear in advance that the office would not survive, and I tried to compensate for this discomfort: I prepared myself mentally, collected some financial cushion, and found a new business, which I managed to get involved in. Therefore, the depressive state did not last long - something like a day.
The problem is that I did not go out for a new permanent job, but took up a business project. There are difficulties here: you have to work at home without a paycheck, with only one hope of profit after an indefinite time. It takes a lot of moral effort. It happens that you wake up with the thought: what am I doing with my life? The second difficulty is that you have to organize your own schedule. Sooner or later, the regime will collapse, labor productivity will fall. The third difficulty is the need to save. These are the main risks: for example, inserting teeth here is unthinkable. People with children, elderly disabled parents or mortgages should not be in this situation.
When I realized that there were few chances with a business, and my finances were running out, I began to look for a new place. I was looking for my first permanent job (in 2005) for a couple of days, but I was lucky. The second (in 2008) - about a month. In the same case (2012), the search took about three months. In general, I lived for about a year without a constant income - I had one-time orders, but that doesn't count.
What this experience taught me: When you have a steady income, it is absolutely necessary to stockpile, and saving only 10% of your income, as they say in self-development books, is not enough. Unless, of course, this is income from oil sales.
Spent 2 years without work
For a long time I worked at a documentary film studio, shot films in the Far North, in the Volga region, in St. Petersburg, in Serbia and Bosnia. Then for a whole year he was an assistant to a deputy and at the same time editor of a municipal newspaper. I quit because I decided to write a book. I tried to start working on it for several years, but because of the busyness I could not get my hands on it. So I quit my job and finally focused on the novel. Sometimes I still moonlighted with texts and video filming, but I did not look for a new permanent job.
It was not morally difficult for me to live without work, but it turned out to be financially difficult. I had to sell a car, wear out old clothes and shoes, deny the family a vacation at sea, move out to increasingly cheaper and cramped apartments in increasingly remote areas. In the end, I even came close to selling the camera equipment. Children and wife are not used to living in such cramped conditions. The eldest son eventually found a job and began to live separately, the wife also went to work and ceased to be a housewife.
I recently finished the book, and it will soon see the light of day at the publishing house, where I now hold the position of commercial director. Finding a job turned out to be extremely difficult not only because of the long hiatus, but also because of my age - this year I turned fifty. Only when you are out of work for a long time, then you find out if you have friends or drinking companions.Fortunately, it turned out that I have friends and a close-knit family.
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