It’s now May and that marks the start of my fifth month without a job. To put that in perspective, I got my first job when I was 11 as a paperboy. Since then, I’ve only been unemployed one other time. It was for three months in 2009, one of the worst times in America to find a job. I worked through undergrad. I worked through grad school. I’ve always worked.
Now, I’m not completely without work. I do consulting. But it’s not a job. I don’t go into an office or lock myself to my desk for eight hours. I set up calls; I offer advice; I take care of what needs to be done for the client; then I invoice them. I’m not hurting like many Americans who’ve lost their jobs. As you read this, know that I know I’m still a little son of a bitch.
When you lose your job, you want someone in your corner that supports you. Not financially. This isn’t a post about getting a sugar momma or daddy. I mean someone that supports your next steps. My wife is that support.
My last job was, well I’m legally bound not to have a negative or positive opinion about my previous position, so let’s just end that sentence with an …
Ashley, my wife, saw the change in my employment status as a great opportunity. Like nearly everyone in the world there are the jobs you have and the careers you dream about. I had a job. Not a career. Not a dream. I dreamt of sitting at home and writing screenplays. I’m approaching 36, so the dream clock is ticking. Fortunately, without a job, I can now focus more on my dream.
Since January I’ve written three screenplays and two treatments. That’s a lot. Were they all good? No. Did any of them sale? Of course not. But I put my everything into them. Now I’m starting my fifth month. I’m still dreaming. But reality is kicking in as I approach the deadline we put on this period in our life.
NOTE TO UNEMPLOYMENT AGENCY: If you are reading this, I am actively looking for full-time work. Don’t misunderstand anything I’ve said.
So how does one go back to the office or chain themselves to a desk when they’ve tasted the sweet, sweet nectar that is freedom? I’m not an office guy. I’ve worked from home for the last six years. I might break out into hives if I have to wear a tie or in the least tuck in my shirt.
I’m sure you’ve seen or read all the stories about people striking it out, building their brand and making a go of it for themselves. I’m a smart guy, kind of. What’re my options?
- Start a podcast. I’ve been listing to Lore by Aaron Mahnke. It’s a great podcast that tells the scary stories that we all love to hear. He did it by himself. In his office and he’s made a go of it.
- Blog like a motherfucker. Blogging has become a huge business. But you need a niche. You need to be able to bring in a mess of people all united by their desire to learn about crocheted toilet seat covers or reusable masturbation Kleenexes. (Which I prey is not a real thing. Or if it is and someone is buying them, stop. Just use a towel. You wash it. Then reuse it. Done.)
- Consult more. The thing about consulting is that it stinks when you’re an expert at something you don’t enjoy. But it pays the bills.
- Professor. Those that can’t, teach. Right? I’ve thought about this. Even going so far as to reach out to my alma mater and essentially beg for a job. Mysteriously, they’ve stopped replying to my emails.
- Get a real job. That’s where I’m at. But what’s a real job anyway?
I know, I know, first world problems. My point is that many of you understand where I’m coming from. You might be reading this in secret while you’re avoiding that budget that your project manager sent this morning. Hopefully you’re still dreaming and thinking, “what if I…”
I was forced to finish that sentence when I lost my job. “What if I became a screenwriter.” And so I’m trying. With the help of an amazing wife, I’m trying. As sad as it is that I’ve not succeeded at my dream just yet, I look back at my life six months ago and I know that the guy I was is so much sadder because all he did was think “what if I…” He never finished the sentence. He never took a chance until he had to. My only regret is that I didn’t take the leap on my own.
So tell me, how would you finish the sentence? “What if I…”