There’s a movie called Perks of Being a Wallflower that came out within the last few years or so. If you went to see the movie, you either went because you have a crush on Emma Watson (guy or girl, it doesn’t matter) or you wanted to find out the perks, because you are a wallflower. SPOILER ALERT, WALLFLOWERS: There are no perks! So I just ruined it for you. If that movie taught me anything, it was that the perks of being a wallflower include:
-Terrible childhood trauma
-Making poor life decisions
-Falling in love with Emma Watson but not telling her until the last five minutes of the movie and then she goes off to college anyway which leads us back to where we started:
Let me be clear: THOSE ARE NOT PERKS. Whoever wrote that book was lying. I’m going to lay out some real perks of real life. Here is some honesty for ya. These are…
THE PERKS OF BEING (in my case, partially) UNEMPLOYED
(Cue 90s folk ballad, artsy direction, slouchy beanie, Emma Watson)
(No, let’s get rid of Emma. Pretty sure she’s employed.)
ONE // YOU’RE NOT BORING YET.
Your future hasn’t been decided for you by the job gods yet, so technically you’re still not locked into what the rest of your life is supposed to be. You’re in limbo, which is kind of cool! Don’t they make sci-fi movies about that sort of stuff? Like, being trapped in between two dimensions? Yeaah. That’s basically your life. OOH! So you could tell people you’re a dimension traveler or a time warlock! Not boring. Boom.
TWO // YOU DON’T DREAD MONDAYS!
I was just eating some food and stuff in NYC with some random new acquaintances after church and they all were talking about was how much they hated Mondays. It was a thrilling 5 minutes of originality, one that enlightened me as to the dullness of jobby conversations. Hey jobby person! My unemployed tushie will still be in bed when you’re stuck on the train or in the car going to work, and I’ll be dreaming sweet dreams about what having one of those mythical jobs is like. I have nothing to dread. Sucks for both of us?
THREE // YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMMUTE.
You don’t have to deal with Traffic or The MTA or The Parkway or ANYTHING. Your life is defined by the freedom of being able to conveniently work on all those mediocre versions of your cover letter from the safety of your laptop. Commute = 6 feet from your bed to your desk. Awesome. Doesn’t even require pants.
FOUR // YOU DON’T HAVE TO PACK/BUY YOUR LUNCH.
I don’t have to worry about eating a PB+J in front of rich coworkers like a loser, not do I feel the peer pressure to go out and buy a fancy $11 salad from Pret to look like a grown-ass woman who’s got her life together. I don’t have to wait in line for an office microwave or haul my Tupperware container and eco-friendly reusable fork in my 80-lb Mary Poppins purse for the rest of the day. I can eat in the privacy of my own kitchen, with my dog at my feet. Jealous? Well, I’m jealous of your job. We’ll call it even.
FIVE // YOU CAN READ THIS BLOG.
Let’s be real. If you were employed at a jobby job, you would hit your snooze button until you absolutely had to drag yourself out of bed, go on that horrid aforementioned commute, work work work at your job and try not to cry or question the meaninglessness of life, come home, eat everything, sit in front of your computer/smartphone /TV until 9:30pm, when you begin to feel a little tired and go to sleep questioning your lab-rat-like existence. Ain’t nobody got time to read blog posts in between all that grownup-ness! Especially my posts, because they tend to be hella long. But without a job, go ahead and spend all day reading blogs. Live your life.
SIX // EVERYONE FEELS SORRY FOR YOU.
No, this is not a bad thing! Pity from well-meaning relatives or people you meet is a great opportunity for taking up a love offering in the form of food, clothes, hope, money, etc. Work on your best puppy dog face and talk about being a millennial liberal arts grad in This Economy. Capitalize the T and the E…it helps. Work on your tears. Then you can put “panhandling” and “emotional manipulation” on your skills section of your resume, which we all know still needs a little extra padding anyway if you’re going to land that entry-level dream job.
SEVEN // YOU’RE TOO UN-LABEL-ABLE FOR A LABEL. BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE ONE.
I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m not an Analyst or a Program Coordinator or an Executive Associate. Or even an Intern. Lady, I am a Metaphorical Unicorn Prancing through a Magical Land of Uncertainty Battling Doom, Depression and Broke-ness…from which I shall certainly emerge victorious and jobby and cooler than you. Optional responses to polite inquires about what you do for a living include: “I’m looking for work, but I don’t think it’s looking for me” or “I’m currently dodging social norms as an experiment on the meaning of group-constructed reality…so actually I need to leave this conversation bye”
EIGHT // YOU’VE DITCHED YOUR ENTITLEMENT FOR YOUR DIGNITY.
By this point of your career in unemployment – which, really, feels more like a career every passing day – you’ve stopped applying to jobs like you can just snap your fingers and have them begging for you at your feet. That is soooo 2012. You’ve let go of your shackles of feeling Special and Unique and Different from the other applicants. You’re okay with being just another guy in a long list of interviews. Congratulations, you are now an adult, humbly holding on to your dignity and grasping a realistic perspective of your place in the universe. Awesome! Most adults take YEARS AND YEARS to get to this level of emotional enlightenment, but they got jobs right after graduation and never got a chance to do some deep soul-searching until their secretary-affair-red-convertible midlife crisis at 54. Boom. You beat them to the punch, and saved yourself from ruining your marriage and wasting your money in the future. That’s waaaay better than having a job. Right?
NINE // YOU CAN PRETEND YOU ARE THE PROTAGONIST IN AN INDIE FILM.
It’s raining, and you’re going back to the mall to return a pair of pants you can’t fit into? It’s the only time you’ve left the house today? Crank up that Bon Iver, and stare longingly out the window through the raindrops at the hot guy waiting for the bus. [You may or may not be wearing a slouchy beanie.] He might look up and you’ll make eye contact and he’ll smile. Magical. It’s the beginning of a beautiful unemployed love story. Annnnd….CUT! Okay, so you have a lot of good BEGINNINGS for indie romcoms. Maybe you need to work on those endings. But hey, every great hipster started out in a coffee shop somewhere, inevitably with Bon Iver playing in the background, making hot eye contact with strangers and living in their parents’ basement teaching themselves some ethnic instrument to drown out their postgrad angst. You can too. If you’re lucky, Wes Anderson might secretly record it and turn it into Moonrise Kingdom 2: All Grown Up and Still Awkward.
TEN // YOU CAN TAKE CRAZY RISKS BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE.
I currently teach swim lessons, do some freelance writing for my grandma, volunteer with Hope for New York as a grant research assistant, and started going to a church that is an hour and a half away from me in another state. I’m flirting with the idea of going to Oregon or Hawaii for an intensive kayaking whitewater course, or spending six months in Africa. On Wednesday, I was hanging out in a bar in NYC with 20 people I had never met before. I also take naps, cuddle with my puppy, exercise a lot, call friends, and watch lots of movies…pretty much whenever I want. People with jobs would kill to trade lives with me for a few weeks. Instead of my life being a stately, organized orchestral opus, my life is a jazz piece being made up as I go along. No rules. No boundaries. [Except for the fact that I live at home.] This kind of freedom is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m trying to embrace this limitlessness and let it take me where it will. Which might be Africa. Take that, Jobbers.
Did I miss anything? Are there other perks of being unemployed? Tell me how you’re rocking it in the comments.
Questing into a Magical Land of Uncertainty,