A Conversation for Coping With Redundancy
Work isn't everything
Ormondroyd Started conversation Jun 16, 2003
I realise that the above statement may seem rather provocative if you've just lost your job and are facing drastic cuts in lifestyle. Nevertheless, it's true - and my life improved greatly once I realised this important truth.
For some time after I lost my old job, I wallowed in booze-fuelled depression. I had a drink problem long before I lost the job, largely as a result of the stresses of my former employment, and I spent many of the newly empty hours in pubs.
Then I started doing some creative writing, on h2g2 and elsewhere. I indulged a hitherto latent love of the arts that I'd never had time for whilst in my old job. Money wasn't too much of a barrier: the public library was free to use, so were some nearby art galleries, and my local cinemas offered cheap admission for the unemployed. I kicked the booze habit and started going to a gym and swimming, again taking advantage of reduced prices for the unwaged. I discovered that my local university's drama society ran free acting classes. Within a year I was on stage performing some Shakespeare with them.
I'd made a vital discovery. I'd realised that I didn't have to define myself exclusively by who was or was not paying me money. That can be a difficult idea to accept, because we live in a culture that does often define people that way. If someone asks you 'What do you do?', what they usually really mean is 'What do you do that you get paid for?'. But I stopped feeling like a useless, discarded thing and started feeling like a writer and an actor. Thanks to the gym and the swimming, I also began to feel like an increasingly healthy human being.
Now I am an employee again, working in administration for a theatre company. Unfortunately, it's a short-term engagement, and I may soon rejoin the unemployment statistics. But I know that if that happens, this time I won't panic or hit the booze, because I'll still have my writing, my acting, my health and my self-esteem.
I now know that you don't cease to exist when they delete your name from the payroll.
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