If I have one specialty in life, it’s choosing the most transient and financially unprofitable professions available to me. Part of this has to do with the fact that God has graced me with only useless talents. I tried to learn HTML and couldn’t, but I have won every limbo contest I have ever entered. I have never successfully run a copy machine by myself, but the speed and accuracy with which I can internet stalk a person could get me into the CIA if only I weren’t so chatty. I’m not that good at anything useful, but because of this, I’ve gotten really really good at being unemployed. Between working as a visual artist for most of my adult life, and then abandoning that endeavor for the infinitely more stable title of a writer, I’ve had the time to learn about navigating the mentally and emotionally draining adventure that is unemployment. And I decided to share with you because, um, I have some time on my hands.
Let me be clear—this list is not intended to help you get a job, or impress friends and family with your proactive outlook on a terribly unfortunate situation. I’m simply offering my advice on being the best non-contributing member of society that you can possibly be. Stick to this list, and you’ll never feel better about being a lazy piece of shit.
Day drinking is the most superior form of drinking for a bunch of obvious reasons. The bars aren’t crowded because everyone is at work, Uber fares are never at surge pricing, and if you time it right, you sleep right through your hangover. Being unemployed gives you both the time and a perfectly acceptable reason to day drink, so you’d have to be an idiot not to. Note: when discussing your day drinking plans, it’s best to call it “networking.” People are way less worried about you that way.
This is just a fancy term for that thing when you do not eat, drink, or do anything that you can’t reach from your bed. You can get really good at it after a while. This may seem like a strange item on the Do list, but when you’re unemployed, everything you do should offer you some much needed perspective. As an unemployed person, you’re probably a little down on yourself, and let me tell you from experience, if you’ve laid in bed for four days, a task as menial as walking out to the mailbox makes you feel positively euphoric. You will walk back inside feeling how Oprah must feel at the end of the day. Also, when your mom calls, you can tell her you’ve been doing yoga and she’ll think she raised a really well-adjusted human being, and it feels good to make your mom feel good.
Netflix is the Bible of the unemployed, so this is kind of a no-brainer. But aside from filling hours of free time, there is a serious component of accomplishment to spending time with your Netflix account. It’s also a great way to get back into the good graces of all your friends who have been bugging you to watch shit forever, but you haven’t done it because you’re “busy” when really you just don’t care.
For the duration of your unemployment, you should always have a Wikipedia tab open. Without the pesky obligations a job imposes, you can look up all the stuff you wonder about on a daily basis but would normally forget to Google later. It’s good because when you’re home alone doing nothing all day, you’re not much of a conversationalist. Except now, when you run into friends later, you know everything there is to know about Tippi Hedren. And the Stephen King novel The Tommyknockers. And Seth Macfarlane’s sister.
I know a LOT about the dangers of daytime TV. You may be asking yourself how this is any different from parking yourself in front of Netflix, and why one is on the Do list while the other is on the Don’t list. And the answer is simply conviction. Daytime TV is fine for the occasional day off, and a great backdrop for folding laundry or painting your nails. But subscribing to Daytime TV day in and day out means that you have stopped caring. You don’t enjoy it, it just happens to you. Flipping through the channels and stopping when something catches your eye is a slippery slope. Did you know Bones is on four hours a day!? Nothing is as alienating as being three months into an unemployment stint and caring about season five of Bones more than anything else in your life. You don’t even have the satisfaction of finishing a binge because you are prisoner to syndication schedules. Becoming addicted to daytime TV is the same thing as giving up.
Target is the most dangerous place for a poor person to be, especially if you’re like me and Biore Pore Strips and scented candles are the only effective prescription for a bad mood. Stay miles away from Target, even if you need something from Target. Instead, spend your time at retailers that are so expensive you’d never shop there even if you were gainfully employed. Try things on and ask a bunch of questions like you’re completely planning on buying something, and then shrug and leave. Normally I wouldn’t condone this kind of behavior, but you’ve had a rough go of things, and the power trip will make you feel better. Also the sales people are employed and you’re not. No matter how nice they are, you’re allowed to lead them on, because their life is better than yours. It’s your pity party and you can lie if you want to. Lie if you want to. Lie if you want to.
Everyone knows Pinterest is just a list of things that you want to do, but don’t do because you just don’t have the time. When you’re unemployed, Pinterest becomes a list of things you want to do, but don’t do for no reason at all. You’ve got nothing but time, and I can guarantee you that no matter how hard you try, you will still never do anything on your Pinterest page. It’s depressing, but it’s the truth. In your delicate emotional state, just steer clear of that complicated and completely unnecessary to do list you’ve been compiling for months.
Home Improvement/Self Improvement/Any Kind of Improvement
Yes, arguably you have all this time to handle things you were putting off because you had a full time job and a social life and expendable income, but I am telling you, this is not the time to do it. Making the most of your unemployment means giving yourself a nice low bar with which to measure your future successes. If you spend your time training for half marathons, deep cleaning your closet, and developing new hobbies, your life is going to feel staggeringly empty when you’ve gone back to the grind. You’ll only appreciate a new job if your life was shit before it came along.
Now that I’ve helped you navigate the utter shittiness that is life, I am confident that you will ultimately come out on top. But before I leave you, I pose this question:
You free right now? I’m bored.