When I left retail this past summer, I was faced with something that initially seemed amazing: funemployment. For six weeks, I was out of a job but still had grad school ahead of me to not make me feel like I was just a schlub loafing around. Life was sufficiently free for my enjoyment, one beer at a time, and I allowed myself to do nothing but relax and go on vacations around the country.
What I underestimated was how long six weeks really is. My vacations only took up two weeks, and before I knew it I was bored out of my mind in Dallas and had only time on my hands. Amazingly, that was when I started to find some things I really enjoyed, and to get back from a two-year funk I didn’t even know I’d been in.
Something I realized near the end of my time in retail was that I was always getting into relationships as I started vacations. The rest of the time I was pretty miserable in my job, so when I was happy and on vacation it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I made people want to be around me. As I faced funemployment, I began to take my usual out-of-work happiness to new places. I started working out more, I kept Shabbat for the first time, and I even brushed up on some skills for school. Still, six weeks ultimately felt like a very long time and at the end, felt like a lot of time wasted.
The truth is, this kind of thing happens to all of us. If not breaks, we certainly get downtime that we don’t use as fully as we should. I find myself wasting away on videogames and movies and wondering why I don’t feel more accomplished. This time is different though, and I’m excited to be getting ahead in various areas of my life. I know I write about changing yourself a lot, but next time you get some downtime, after you’ve rested a bit, take some time to really think about what it is you’re missing, and do something about it. Maybe you want to get closer with family or friends, or learn a skill, or get more involved in your community.
Next time you’re sitting on JDate in your free time and wondering why you can’t find anyone you like, it might not be because they’re not there. It might be because you’re not. There’s no such thing as improving too much, and it’s okay to change who you are as your desires change. So instead of looking at Mitzvahgal13 for the fortieth time, go ahead and go do something exciting! Who knows, maybe even Mitzvahgal will notice.