LIZ VAN PAY

the ramblings of a music journalist and nearly-published author.

Unemployed loser? I was!

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Many people who speak to me on a regular basis know that I’ve struggled with unemployment for the past six months of my life. I was laid off from a position I worked for nearly two years in September 2009, and was recently hired to work for the City of Milwaukee in mid-March, 2010. While my unemployed stint allowed me quite a bit of time to catch up on sleep, it also left me with an overwhelming feeling of boredom and being unsure of what to do with my time. While writing was a viable option and I was thankful to have cable television, the days eventually began to blend together and I found myself internally struggling to get up each morning, all because I felt I had no purpose beyond applying for jobs I was sure I wouldn’t get, and sleeping upwards of 18 hours a day. Below, find a few ideas to utilize to find your own purpose, much the way I did.

Volunteer! Within many American cities, you should be able to find some form of volunteer center. These organizations are a great place to start when trying to find a volunteer position that suits your time schedule as well as letting you apply things you are likely already good at to improve the lives of others. In my case, I logged onto the website of The Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee, created an account, and sifted through many pages of opportunities before finding some I liked enough to do. The biggest of these was as a computer teacher for adults at an organization called Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Services. This gave me an opportunity to apply my computer skills for good, teaching adults to do even the simplest tasks, but changing their lives in a way similar to their changing mine. When I started, I taught two afternoon classes per week. Now that I’m back to work, I teach one evening class per week, but just because I’m working doesn’t mean I’m planning to quit anytime soon. Even though you don’t get paid, volunteering is a great activity for anyone who might be looking to add something to their life. If you’re unemployed, volunteering is a great addition to a resume. Beyond my current volunteer obligations, I have also volunteered at Green Bay’s NEW Zoo, Green Bay’s Neville Public Museum, and FoodShare Wisconsin in Butler.

Take up a new hobby! Growing up, I have always had my hands in something crafty. When I was a teenager, it was creating hemp jewelry and polymer clay beads, as well as creating jewelry from wire and glass beads, and even wireworking. As I’ve gotten older, my crafting options have narrowed a bit. One thing I picked up nearly immediately and did religiously while not working? Knitting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that knitting is a bit out of the ordinary for someone who looks the way I do… but it’s incredibly relaxing. In six months, I knitted countless scarves, dishcloths, and even a baby blanket and a half, and have donated my knit goods to several non-profit organizations, and even decided to sell some of my items under the moniker Blackheart Knits & Crafts. You can find my Etsy store here. While my hobby of choice was something crafty, yours might be something else. Use your imagination! It’s not like you have to be anywhere.

Look right in front of you for opportunities! The reason I suggest this is because one of my last tips is just that. Look around you – if you live in an apartment building or condo complex, ask management if there’s anything you can do to obtain rent credits or other compensation. This could include cleaning inside or outside, or helping with administrative tasks. There’s no problem with asking, even if you get turned down.

Travel! When I say ‘travel’, I don’t mean sell everything you own and take a trip to Vegas or anything. Stay close to home, but at least get out for a little while. If you have the ability to go visit your hometown to see old friends, do it. Have enough cash to leave the state to visit others you don’t see often? Do it.  When work is back to being a priority and a big responsibility, you don’t want to wind up wishing that you’d done more with your unemployed time. Don’t second guess yourself.

Even if you’ve never been unemployed for longer than a few weeks, the situation is becoming more and more common. Thankfully, I was able to live on unemployment benefits while I wasn’t working, but I know some individuals aren’t that lucky. This is just a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way to share my experience with anyone who’s still reading.

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Written by Liz Van Pay

April 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Posted in 2010, random

Tagged with , ,

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