The Overlooked Value of Work

Work is defined as “an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result” or employment. A means of earning an income. My college psych professor once said that depression drastically increases after retirement. It was a bit obvious at that time as an employed college student. More recently when I was forced into unemployment due to a series of unfortunate or rather fortunate events, I was forced to live the experience.

The experience of being out of work. When I had it, it sucked…sometimes. Without it, it sucks… all the time. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is the longest period of time in my life that I have been unemployed and it sucks. Almost six months to be exact. I’m not trying to be politically correct as in looking for a job and not finding one etc etc. but I’m lumping it all together to define a person just that just isn’t working. I do have a job offer but the start date is far away and with each passing day and unfortunate or rather fortunate obstacles that come my way, my start date appears to be further away.

My position is rather unique. It’s not as if I don’t have something lined up. Rather, it is the fact that I’m sedentary and not actively working towards a purpose. I’m essentially purposeless.  For someone who’s always had a very active work life, this is a new thing for me . To be out of the game, and in my opinion for such a lengthy period of time. In the beginning it was scary and caused a significant anxiety. That was the application phase. When you know you are qualified but opportunity after opportunity seems to pass you by.

It wasn’t about experience either. I’ve worked in countless positions, but maybe for the purpose of  a resume, too many positions. I’ve been in various locations, but maybe too many locations for prospective employers. The first question always seems to be,I” noticed you’ve been in three states within the past year. Can you explain?” No, I’m not running from the Feds and no, I don’t partake in illegal activities. My partner is in training and I moved to be with him.

Nonetheless, what is more taxing than the actual moving has been the process of finding a job with each move. Particularly in Chicago. Beats me. I live within a mile radius of 5 hospitals. The job that I found is 13 miles away. I’ve dubbed my situation unfortunate and fortunate. For the simple fact that not having a job for this period of time has really forced me to see what’s most valuable in my life.

The most obvious one, a good job, aside from that the incredible friends and family that I have. They have been consistently supportive and I am so grateful for their impact on my life. The reality is that I perceive my situation as unfortunate because bills need to be paid and an income takes care of that. By no means am I homeless or hungry so yes, it is fortunate because it highlights the supportiveness of my partner and his pledge to me that the bills will always be paid. It’s unfortunate because I have sooooo much time on my hands that it drives me crazy to think about it sometimes.

However it’s fortunate because all this time has allowed me to explore a career in real estate, spend time with friends, learn about the city, travel (England, Ireland, and France), visit home (Florida), catch up on movies & shows, learn to swim, play an intramural sport, run, cook, clean, read, write, finish household to-dos, and for once in my life enjoy the luxury of having nothing planned. I know I’ll look back and think how ridiculous I am for having first world problems but it doesn’t minimize the suckiness of it all. It’s a struggle sometimes to count my blessings and look at the upside of things but I know I’m not alone. Millions of Americans retire each day . Others are forced into early retirement or temporary separation from work due to situational factors. Nonetheless, many haven’t got a clue what to do with their lives. My advice, just chill 🙂

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6 thoughts on “The Overlooked Value of Work

      1. I second that comment. This is a profound piece on how we define work and the obsession with being in the work-force all the time. The irony is that even while we work all the time, we complain and look forward to the day of retirement. As you mentioned, when this day comes for many people, it becomes miserable because they have lost a huge part of how they have defined themselves. This article really forces us to reconsider how we have attached work to our identity and our sense of being and worth. This post is very refreshing and provoking. Keep the light of wisdom burning

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  1. I’ll be curious to see if the time you’ve had to be out of work wil lol impact your perspective on your day to day job once you’re back in it. In the meantime, keep learning and growing in the areas outside of work! And enjoy the chill!

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  2. This is so true about trying to find purpose when you aren’t working. In the profession of nursing I find purpose in helping others out in a meaningful way, being able to be there for them at their most vulnerable moments. At times when I am at work I’m looking forward to being off and sometimes when I am not at work for a long period of time, I question what ways I’m making a difference.

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