Green Typewriter
  • Lucy Thackray

Funemployment? Why not everyone craves unstructured free time

There's a trend, I've noticed, for my millennial peers making light of periods of unemployment by nicknaming it 'funemployment'. Maybe we're just trying to seem like the instability of the job market doesn't scare us; perhaps we're trying to muster the same flippancy with which our employers have treated our jobs. Either way, it doesn't seem cool, these days, to point out the terrifying nature of being jobless.

This is the first day I haven't been gainfully employed, full time, since October 2011. That's nearly 10 years of routine, office life, regular paycheques, feeling useful. 'Lost' would be an understatement for what I feel today. The truth is, I am a creature of routine. I'm one of those rare weirdos who loves the predictable, reassuring bargain of a nine-to-five. When you have a work day, you can scatter guilt-free leisure time around it. Nipping off early or booking a luxurious day off to feel like treats because they rub up against the rigidity of a work routine. Without the core of a work day or a to-do list that I'll be held to account for, days seem to stretch out for miles in front of me. Carving out a morning run and a pot of coffee seems pointless: I could do the former anytime; for what am I caffeinating?

The timing of my redundancy has few saving graces, but here is one: in the lockdown months, I had already crafted something of a home-based routine. Having never really run much further than the length of a train platform, I worked my way up to a comfortable 5k, now more of a 7k. Having this to build on feels like a scrap of a goal, a job-surrogate. I have plants to care for inside and outside of the house; growing this website will give me an ounce of occupation, albeit unpaid. But I'm itching to get back in the game and have a purpose again. I'm trying to meditate on that old adage that the Chinese use the same word for 'crisis' as 'opportunity' (Homer Simpson's 'crisotunity'), and put a bit of faith in myself to make self-improvement - absorbing what's going on in the world, reading more, playing around with creative projects - the thing that plugs this temporary abyss. If you're in a similar situation, solidarity. This too shall pass.

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