Quitting Unemployment

It’s not so much about whether to be or not to be: it’s about what to be, how to be, when to be, and for how long.

In the past, whenever I’ve changed jobs, I’ve always hated the new job. I hate the new, unfamiliar workplace, the new work, the new colleagues, the new learning – basically, I just hate the newness. I don’t think I’ve ever joined a single job without wanting to quit in the first couple of weeks. Most places, I’ve wanted to quit even after three months on the job. I’ve never done it though – I always told myself to wait for at least six months. Almost always (with one or two exceptions), between the three-month and the six-month milestone, something changes, and the desire to quit quietly goes away. Usually, by the time six months are up, I’m into the new role heart and soul and enjoying every moment of it.

The change to unemployment has been different. Now that that six-month milestone is coming up, I can honestly say that I haven’t had many moments of regret or of wanting to “quit” unemployment.

Just recently, though, I did suddenly have a yearning for the good ol’ days of office gossip, meetings, deadlines, lousy coffees and noisy cafeterias. When I think back to those “good ol'”days, I don’t think of the last organization I worked (or rather, vegetated) at, but rather, of the one before that, KF, where I could have complained of many things, but never of boredom. KF was too stressful, too tiring, too hectic, had too many people, too much politics and was generally just a bit too much to handle; but the work was always interesting, challenging, fun, and the people I met there were simply amazing. Just briefly, the other day, I missed that madness and camaraderie of KF.

The park, which is nowadays the centre of my social circle of idle moms, was partly responsible for this sudden spark of reminiscence. Two or three of the half-dozen or so moms that I generally chat with, are looking for jobs or planning when and how they can go back to work. What about me, they ask?

I don’t really know, honestly. I have been very comfortable being home, doing my own thing, looking after the girls. I spend two or three hours on the computer every day, which is all I need to recharge my batteries after taking care of the household chores and the twins in the morning. Occasionally, I do feel that I’ve become too house-bound, somewhat isolated, overly family-centric; but I’m not sure if this is something I want to be worried about yet.

If I think of returning to work, first I feel lazy and reluctant – life will be so much more hectic and I’ll get so little time with the girls if I do that. I also feel a little guilty – like being a “good” mother means giving up work forever, which I know is a stupid way to think, but I don’t seem to be able to change it. I feel a little selfish – if I go away to work, who will look after the girls? Then, I feel a little ambivalent – what work do I want to do next, anyway? And finally, I feel surprised to feel a little excited – I want to be part of that dynamic, decisive, rushing corporate workspace again.

Then, of course, there’s a work-from-home or freelance option. That would answer the question of looking after – or at least supervising someone else who’s looking after – the kids. But, it doesn’t provide many of the features that working from an office does – office gossip, lousy coffee, noisy cafeteria… Chances are, too, that it doesn’t provide such a good opportunity for career advancement, equal pay, or equally challenging or exciting work. It might be convenient, but is it what I want to do?

I’m happy with status quo for the moment… but in another few months or a year, I will have to have some or all of the answers. Sigh…

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