When I was a university student, I thought having a full-time corporate job in the field of human resources would be exciting. When the time came for me to say goodbye to student life, the job hunt began. It did not take long for me to land a talent acquisition job at a multinational pharmaceutical company. I accepted the job offer because, given the dire economic situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic that was (and still is) plaguing the nation, having a job was better than no job.
I did not think of embarking on a career path that relates to creative writing or photography. Over time, when my tenure at the company lengthens, I slowly realised that this job was not meant for me. I learned that I was not adept at spreadsheet reporting and did not respond well to authority. This caused me great mental anguish to the point that I resigned eight months later because I wanted to save what is left of my sanity.
I resigned without seeking another job first (I do not recommend this) without seeking the advice of my loved ones because if I had done so, they would have criticised my decision. For almost four months, I spent my jobless life writing articles for several Medium publications and looking up on investment courses to build my financial literacy. Despite keeping myself busy with these two self-imposed responsibilities, I have discovered that being unemployed and working for yourself can bring about seven consequences:
1. You will always ask yourself, “What do I really want in life?”
While I had a day job, the only matter I was able to ponder about was “all the things I would have done if I did not have a job.” The moment I walked out of the company, all of the things that I pondered about vanished. I attempted to draft a list to recalibrate my brain, but I cannot. It was demoralising and soul-smashing. In an instant, I do not have a list of wants in my life.
To emerge out of this as you look for other job opportunities, note down things you want to stay away from and keep them in mind. For instance, I knew I did not want to get myself involved in anything that requires me to produce dozens of reports weekly, and I did not want to secure a role in management consultancy, especially after hearing the stories of non-existent work-life balance from those who are spending their early professional years in the field.
Keep in mind, you resigned because you had to save your mental health and regain control over your life by doing the things that you are passionate about. Therefore, do not fall back into the same trap you once fell into, that is, going after the job because you need it and everyone else tells you to. Instead, determine what you want to keep yourself away from and progress from there so even if you are struggling financially, you have a set of rules that will guide your decisions.
2. You will always ask yourself.
You will question your life choices, from your education, career, relationship with others, and many more–an endless battle you will actively engage in. When you are on the verge of overthinking your life decisions, press the brakes hard. Retreat to the hobbies that make you happy in order to keep your attention away from the process of assessing whether you made the right calls. Break a sweat, spring-clean your bedroom, swim, do whatever is necessary to lure you away from habits that jeopardises your sanity and self-confidence.
3. You will always be bogged down by finances.
Once you officially throw in the towel, you are leaving behind your responsibilities and no longer have a steady stream of earned income. Oh yeah, it does not take long before money starts to grip you firmly. Whether you are married, engaged, or decided to stay in the “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationship for a bit longer, when a dual-income household evolves into a single-income household, anything that touches on finances can be a source of stress.
With that in mind, I cannot stress the importance of establishing a budget. Budgeting is a financial skill everyone should master because it can save you in ways you cannot imagine. Of course, you can restrict yourself from spending lavishly on the latest collection of running attire from Nike, but you can never escape the essential expenditures such as groceries and utility bills that keep you afloat. So, remove as many unnecessary expenses as possible. Surviving longer with less is turning out to be a crucial skill to ace, especially in this pandemic era.
Identify the expenses that you must make and ensure that you consider them. Plus, always remember to be your partner’s pillar of support if they are currently solely responsible for bringing money home. It is stressful being the only person in the house who is paying for the household essentials.
4. Securing a job will require some time and hence, patience.
Ever since I have resigned from my talent acquisition job, I started applying to a handful of jobs and only had two virtual interviews. As of now, nothing concrete has come to fruition. Thus, enter the unemployed life with the anticipation that it will take time before you secure a job that you genuinely want. Moreover, if you are attempting to invest all of your time and resources into the projects you are passionate about, you must be patient because it will take a while before they blossom to your liking. If you can, and it is still tolerable, do not resign from your day job if you have yet to secure a new job lead. Otherwise, know that your new full-time responsibility will be to capture a new job opportunity or assemble a new money-generating machine.
Also, do not forget that being employed elsewhere requires some time too. Unless you are fortunate and the employer hands you a job offer immediately after your first interview, it is realistic to highlight the fact that at least a month is required before being hired by another firm. Time is needed for your employer to acknowledge your application, arrange a suitable time to interview you and conduct background checks before deciding whether to welcome you into the organisation.
Once again, the recruitment process will need some time. Stay patient, and if you are caught between a rock and a hard place and need a solution desperately, you may need to employ several temporary alternatives.
5. You will feel the sting of rejection.
Your worthiness as a human being drops like a stone, you will soon feel. On top of that, you will begin to sense that you are forever unemployable. Soon afterwards, you will begin to think that moving back in with your parents and be a potato is a good idea. Trapped yourself in your room long enough and you will begin to question your life once more.
As mentioned earlier, to preserve your sanity, actively look for things that restore and maintains your confidence. Get your heart pumping and body moving by signing up for fitness classes. Bake a cake. Write down your thoughts in a journal. The whole idea is to keep yourself engaged in activities that clears your mind and keeps you in a productive state. Always tell yourself that you are worthy and you deserved to secure your dream job eventually.
6. You will discover your passions.
Play this sentence back in your head repeatedly. However, just like before, finding projects and activities that capture your attention and align with your passion will take time. Additionally, you need to work hard on them consistently. You have to be strong enough to make the painful decisions and commit to sacrifices if you truly want to make something pan out as intended. You will want to call it quits and opt for another miserable job. You may have no choice but to take it if your financial statements are not looking very good. However, do not let this be a reason why you should stop.
Besides that, you may discover passion and inspiration in places you least expected. Take note of the positive aspects of your day job, such as communicating with people, writing reference letters, etc. Take them into consideration when you are hunting for another position. At times, those amazing roles can offer you a surprising number of avenues.
Final 2¢: It is not the end of the world.
When you officially say farewell to your day job, you will feel as though you are free. My mental health welcomed this decision with open arms. However, that sense of euphoria did not stick around long because eventually, reality started to rear its ugly head. However, when reality decided to say hello, I had to remind myself why I resigned in the first place and why I have chosen to explore this uncharted territory. I suggest that you do the same when you have a “reality check” moment.
Continuously remind yourself that you are worthy, you can be employed for as long as you are still breathing, and you will eventually come across something that you are passionate about, no matter how difficult the journey may be.