I am like many of you. Many of us are mature (not meaning old), seasoned professional women caught in the storm of this recession and seeing no end in site. The résumés have been revised, tweaked, and polished, days on end are spent submitting them, visiting career sites, and following up with phone calls, emails, faxes, and letters. We’re prepared at any moment to dash out to an interview to impress the masses with our skills, wit, charisma, and experience.
Now that that’s out of the way, how are you doing? Has anyone asked you that lately? While we’re all sensitive to the economic downturn and the loss of incomes for families whose expenses haven’t decreased in proportion, very often the first question we’re asked by the friend, the neighbor, the UPS man is, “Have you found anything yet?” I was recently speaking to a friend who lost her job at about the same time I’d lost mine. After some chitchat, I finally asked the job question, and she said to me very sternly, “Patricia, I hate when people keep asking me that! There’s more to my life than a job, you know? Believe me, when I have a job, you’ll be one of the first to know!” I know how she feels. It’s unnerving when we’re used to having somewhere to go every day, an alarm to answer to, a you-won’t-believe-what-took-place-in-the-office-today story at the end of the day.
However, I’m going to suggest something I haven’t heard much buzz about here or anywhere else — enjoy the time you have now. (Take your hand off your hip and stop staring at the screen like that; I’m not done.) I’m not suggesting we go off on a shopping spree or party like a rock star (which made many of us more dependent on the jobs we had in the first place). But free time is a luxury we often did not have before now, and while we may not be able to enjoy it the way we want to, when the job-hunting, the phone-calling, the pavement-pounding, and all that we can do has been done, enjoy some of this time in ways that cost almost nothing.
Before New Jersey was drenched with rain for weeks on end, I got up before the sun rose, got dressed, and took a different route in my walk around the neighborhood every morning. It was peaceful, hearing nothing but my light footsteps and the birds chirping. On other days when the rain kept me in, after my morning ritual of job-job-job, I’d take an occasional bubble bath in the middle of the day! That cost nothing but the Epsom salt and Mr. Bubble I already had (yes, I still use it and no, I have no children). Instead of having the television on in the background all day, I downloaded some audio books from the library (also free) and listened to something I’d been meaning to read while I was commuting back and forth to work but never did.
Not one of these things cost me one cent that I hadn’t already spent. I all ready pay for Internet service, I’ve had a library card all my life, and I admitted my Mr. Bubble addiction. Even as I type this, my face is green and tight, slathered with good ole’ Queen Helene Mint Julep Facial Masque. For this moment, it feels good, and it’s for me. Whether it’s been weeks or months since you last worked (away from home), this time will quickly be just a memory. At the end of day, your chances of getting a job are no better if you’re feeling anxious, depleted, depressed, and desperate. That’s not the spirit you want to carry to your next interview. A bright-eyed, confident, content woman with the required skills and experience has a much better shot at getting her foot in the door. So here are my two questions for you, and I challenge you to answer both without referring to a job or job search. 1. How are you doing? 2. How are you enjoying (or planning now to enjoy) some of your time? We can’t nurture the world if we neglect ourselves. I’m looking forward to your comments!