Home Self Goals How 8 months of Unemployment Turned out to be a Blessing in...

Unemployment can be a really frustrating time. If you’ve just come out of college you might be feeling pretty disillusioned and thinking, “I went to college for this.” I feel ya. I went to grad school and came out of school into a recession for the second time in my life. Talk about a rude awakening. I was under the impression I would finish my MBA, find some job at a Fortune 500 company and be on my way to climbing the ladder of success. Needless to say it didn’t turn out anything like that and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think that 8 months of unemployment was the ultimate blessing in disguise. Hopefully some of what I share here will shed some light on what might seem like a dark tunnel that lies ahead for those of you who are facing this same dilemma.

5 Things I gained from Unemployment

Passion Projects: Unemployment is actually the perfect time to explore passion projects that you might have been thinking about for the last several years. Chances are you’ve used excuses like “I don’t have the time” or “ I don’t have the resources.” If you tell me you don’t have the time when you are unemployed I’m going to personally come and smack you upside the head. Not seriously, but that’s no longer a valid excuse so abandon it. In the world we live in today there is an endless stream of free resources out there to get any project off the ground. Need knowledge, it’s free. Need people, they are readily available on almost every social network and there are people who are looking for projects to work on. Does your passion project require capital investment? Well, then start a blog and start writing about your passion project. You’ll eventually find a way to get there. And if you’re still stuck, reach out to me and I’ll even build you a blog for free.

Financial Awareness: Nothing will make you get better at managing your money than not having any. I graduated from business school and watched my bank account dwindle to literally a zero balance after my financial aid money ran out. I had to move back to my parents house to a town that I hate. In order to attend networking events, instead of paying the cover charge, I had to volunteer to work the door. I even brought a flask with me to a bar so I wouldn’t have to buy any drinks. It’s amazing to see that 8 months later that experience has made me so much more financially aware. I don’t buy anything that I don’t absolutely need. I eat out maybe once a week. I setup an ING direct savings account and anytime I want to purchase anything, I setup a sub account for that item and I just contribute to it. For example, I want to go to Costa Rica at the end of this year, and every week I put in 25 dollars to my Costar Rica fund. I need some couches for my apartment, so I throw about 50 bucks a week into that account. Basically, I don’t buy anything unless I have the cash to pay for it.

Shifting Priorities/Hobbies: If you spend anytime on my blog or know anything about me, it’ll become apparent to you that my life is driven by surf conditions. When I was unemployed I knew that spending all day submitting resumes was a recipe for depression and disaster. If that’s how you are approaching this, STOP. Seriously not only is not effective, it will make you feel like shooting yourself. Surfing, which was something that started out as an outlet, completely transformed my life. When I was unemployed, I literally would spend 6 hours a day hanging out at the beach and surfing. I’m healthier, happier , and have way more energy because I found this outlet. Don’t live near a beach? Well, learn a musical instrument. You can probably find a used guitar on craigslist for peanuts. And if you want to learn to play, there’s probably a blogger somewhere who teaches people how to play guitar through his blog, for FREE. If you already play the guitar, well you know what I think you should do for your business idea :). You can even find some classic Gibsons to get you started.

Just find an outlet and you will get through this period of life with a much bigger smile on your face.

Skill Development: If there’s any one thing I used this 8 months for, it was to develop skills that I didn’t already have. I had dabbled with blogs before, but I really didn’t know much. Today, thanks to developing all these skills, my blog pays my rent and all of the rest of my income is play money. I consider it the best off-the-job training in the world. For anything you want to learn, there’s likely a free resource out there for you.

Relationships: It sounds weird, but through social media I have developed a wide variety of different relationships with some people who are both personally and professionally some of the most amazing people around. My network extends beyond my Geography and it blows my mind how powerful this community of people is as a whole.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that unemployment was a picnic. It actually sucked in many ways. I was like a beach bum and many people started to wonder if my life was going in a downward spiral because of my growing obsession with riding waves. But in the end, ALL OF IT, was an amazing blessing in disguise. I encourage you to treat this is a journey of self discovery that will ultimately put you on the path which you belong. With unemployment you get a great opportunity to evaluate what you truly want. The downside of getting a job right out of college is that you really don’t know what makes you happy and you end up taking whatever you can get. Pave your own path, escape the Matrix, unplug, and tell me your story a year from now (if you follow my advice).

26 replies to this post
  1. Hey Nicole,

    Thanks for the opportunity to guest post here. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress of your blog and everything you are working on over the next quarter. Looks like we’ve both got and exciting few months ahead of us.

    • Srini,

      Thanks for another great contribution to MCG. This post is especially personal and one that many can relate to but don’t always want to talk about. I appreciate you sharing this with us!

      Nicole

  2. I think that this was a very interesting article because it sounds a lot like my twin sister Ashley’s situation at the moment- I think I will pass this on to her! It may cheer her up to know shes not alone.
    Brooke

    • Hey Brooke!

      I didn’t know Ashley was looking for a job. Tell her I said hi! And if there is anything I can do to help her network please let me know. She is definitely not alone- I feel like half of America is going through this or has gone through it in the last few years.

      Nicole

  3. This is a fabulous guest post! Sriniva, I just just subscribed to your blog.

    When my company was bought out 5 years ago I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with myself. That job was all I knew how to do. This was before the recession of course, and wasn’t tied to the economy at all (the owner of the company wanted to go into politics). I decided to make a huge change. Take a giant leap of faith and up and move 350 miles away from everything I had ever known in life, all of my friends and all of my family, to a place where I knew absolutely no one.

    As it turns out I am so glad I did. Being unemployed, while it inhibits you in the sense that you don’t have a steady income, it also liberates you and allows you to look at the world from a completely different perspective than someone going through the motions of an every day job. If my company had never closed, I would still be stuck there not having any of the experiences that I have grown from these past 5 years.

    • @Jen: Glad to have another subscriber :). Going to a place where you know no one is one of the most eye opening personal growth experiences you can possibly go through. It forces you out of a shell. I used to be afraid to talk to complete strangers at one point in my life. Last summer I moved to San Diego for an internship and I would go out by myself. At first it seemed weird, but I realized that it forced me to talk to people and improved my social skills.

      As far as liberating you, I would have to agree. You have the chance to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t otherwise do. Where I’m at now is a world apart from where I imagined I would be. The funny thing is I love where I’m at no so much more than the thing imagined.

      • Very cool story Jen. I always encourage people to consider being laid off as ONE chapter in their story of many. Usually that chapter alters the course of your career and life for the better. If you weren’t forced to stop, would you have re-evaluated your life and your career? Probably not. I bet you have met some amazing people and experienced things you never would have.

        How was your transition to the new city when you first moved? Did you ever question it?

        • Nicole,
          The transition went through some peaks and valleys. At first I was sure this is what I was supposed to do and I just did it. It wasn’t until I had slowed down a bit and took in my surroundings that I thought, maybe I don’t quite fit in here. I struggled with that feeling for about 2 years. I really thought that this was all wrong and that I should move back home. But that wasn’t a realistic option considering I had bought a house here. So I stuck it out, but I changed some things around. I found a different job in a new industry (almost by accident) and that enabled me to meet new people, which is what I was missing.

          I actually wasn’t positive I made the right choice until this year. I was homesick for a long time and it took some getting used to, but now I’m all settled in and I plan to be here for at least 10 more years… unless something else happens. I’m a huge fan of change, so I never know what could be next.

  4. I went through the same thing and was unemployed for 10 months. I definitely learned how to manage my money better and also made it a habit to find creative ways to spend time with my friends/family/boyfriend without spending money. Being unemployed actually made me a MORE creative person, which is great since I’m in a creative field. It also made me more appreciative of the opportunities that popped up and the fact that I’m now employed full-time.

    • @Leachristine: The things I learned from running my blog during my unemployment period play a fundamental role in my job today, so I totally relate to your experience. It’s amazing that you learn to manage your money so much more effectively during unemployment. That way when you do get a paycheck you don’t have this urge to go crazy with standard of living increases(something I used to do in the past).

    • Hey Leah! I remember you blogging about different creative things you do around the city, how you make your own thrifty Halloween costumes and “the breakup basket” you made for your friend. Thanks to your blog I did “Don’t Go Over in October”. Boycotting all extra for a month was definitely something I needed to do.

      Now that I’ve cut up my credit cards and only use cash, I have a really hard time saying no but I have no choice. I’ve noticed that it has gotten easier the more I do it. I’m also much more creative. It’s become kind of fun!

  5. […] How 8 months of Unemployment Turned out to be a Blessing in Disguise […]

  6. Thanks for the great post Srinivas! I think this will be encouraging and give some great ideas to people who are currently unemployed. Right out of college I worked for 6 months at an ad agency and after we lost the only account my regional office worked on, I was laid off. It took me about 7 months to find another job, but I honestly look back at that period of time in my life very fondly. My hobby became working out, it gave me something get up for every morning and I was in the best shape of my life during those seven months! Being laid off also turned out to be just the push I needed to search for jobs in Chicago (a place I have always wanted to live) and I eventually got hired and moved!

    • @Kristen,

      Great story. I think it’s amazing how often these times in which we are going through our greatest challenges end up being the ones that enable us to grow the most and ultimately allow us to end up in a much better place.

    • Wow that’s kind of cool that you started working out because of being unemployed. I love that you took a blah situation and made it positive. Most would do the opposite!

      Again, I’m sure being unemployed altered your course. Would you ever consider working in an exercise/sports-related field?

      Not sure how long you’ve been here in the Windy City, but welcome! I’m convinced Chicago is the best city. I’m totally hooked!

      Nicole

  7. Hey Srinivas, I saw your postings occasionally on the blogosphere but never knew you loved surfin’. The part about sending resumes is a set-up for depression is spot-on. Also, I loved that you mentioned the variety of relationships you have been enjoying due to social media, among others. I second it too, as evidenced by posting a comment here :)

    • @Isao,

      Yeah I pretty much live for riding waves. Nothing makes me happier. As far as the resumes go, I have friends that are still doing that. I’ve even had one friend told me that she applied for every job on the internet. I thought that was the most extreme case. I look forward to checking out your blog.

  8. I to was unemployed, pregnant and finishing my masters degree. I thought I was at the end of my rope. my son was 3 months old, the money was running out and I was applying for Energy Assistance to help keep my heat on through the cold Winter months. I was on the Energy Assistance website, when I thought to myself….maybe they need help? I checked their job openings and they were hiring…at that point I didn’t care what the job was, I just knew I needed one!

    I got the job, and was so excited. During my time off I dabbled in a few things to make a few bucks, and recently started selling Dove Chocolate discoveries, which is the same great chocolate you can buy at retail stores, just on the gourmet side, with new, different and excellent products! I love the business, and for once a business I started is actually making me money instead of costing me money!

    I read your posts on a regular basis and I have to say, they got me through some REALLY rough times while I was out of work! thank you for that! Even though we all know the economy is at it’s worst, its still comforting to know there are other real people out their struggling to make ends meet!

  9. Ok, with another Kristen here, I figured I’d better distinguish myself :), I’ve mentioned my time being unemployed in passing on comments on other posts, but I wish I’d had this post to read in 2008 when I suffered two periods of unemployment, I probably would have built my blog more and gotten out to do more passion related stuff. I’m a cash and check card only person too, it’s a great way to live, but does get tough sometimes when you get close to the end of the month and need cash. Great insights!

  10. […] speaker, read her article on what she learned, maybe she’ll write a book. Read her story HERE Previous Topic: Ginger White, the Atlanta woman who has claimed a 13-year affair with Cain, […]

  11. Hi! I would love help in building a blog. I love running, eating healthy, juicing, hot yoga, fashion and design. People always ask me for tips and i would love to try this out! Let me know if you’re still willing to build a blog for free ;)
    Kristin

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