If you had told me when I was a kid that when I reached my late 20s I would be unemployed, single, and living at home, I would have been horrified and pretty sure have called you a liar in a high-pitched, pushy voice that only children can make sound remotely adorable.
Because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a ballerina. And an actress. And an ice skater. And a teacher. Why not, right?
Well, the first three came true in a way. I did take ballet for two years, learned how to ice skate, and have been acting since I was 4 (yup, I’m counting my preschool debut as a broken doll in the school’s Christmas pageant).
You see when you are a child, your future bursts with brightness and endless opportunities, and you draw your life’s road map based off the grown ups around you. By the time my mom was 27, she was married, on her own, and had a kid. I thought my life would have played out the same way. It did not.
Is it weird to have so many negative stigmas attached to my current situation? Yes. Is it weird to be at home in the middle of a work day? Yes. Does it wear on my self esteem? Of course.
Having a job is a part of your identity. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning and carries you through the day.
Being married, in a general sense, is a fantastic sentiment because it means your search for your soulmate is done. No more dating.
Being financially independent is a hallmark sign of a successful adulthood.
It is easy to become weighed down by comparing myself to people my age who check off all the above boxes. I’m sure people do judge me, because it is easy to judge what you don’t know.
Truth is, I haven’t always been in this situation.
Just a few short months ago, I was in my own apartment and had a job that I was pretty killer at. Though I wasn’t married, I was dating.
While on the surface I should have been content with all my successes, I wasn’t.
Even with a recent job promotion, I barely could afford my rent and bills which sucked out a good part of the joy of living on my own. And, while I once loved so many aspects of my job, my passion for what I was doing had also begun to burn out.
The longer I was there, the more the cons of my job started to outnumber the pros. I grew unhappy, angry, and constantly stressed. I knew in my gut that it was time to leave and move on.
Though I didn’t have another job arranged, I turned in my resignation, packed my belongings, and walked out the door. The second I stepped over that threshold, I finally felt reconnected with my old, optimistic, lighthearted self.
Which leads me to here and now.
While I still don’t have a job, I have set goals for myself that I’m constantly working towards, a new path I’m craving.
I want to break into a new career field and move to a new city. These aspirations I know I will achieve and excite me to have. They give me my reason to get up each morning, because each day is one more step closer towards being where I know I’m meant to be.
Until my time has arrived, I’m using my in-between stage to my advantage. In addition to applying for jobs in my goal destination (actually had a couple interviews, but neither job felt right for me), I have been teaching myself concepts and skills that can professionally benefit me.
Given my focus on moving my life in a new direction, dating and marriage are the very last things on my mind. While one day I do hope to get married, I’m willing to wait, because marriage is not something I want to rush.
On the days feelings of doubt and despair cloud my mind, I take a few minutes to reflect on my life. A lot of the goals I set for myself throughout the years, such as going to New York City and London and performing in certain venues, I have achieved. Remembering this fact validates that I will achieve every point on my new list of aspirations.
I also remind myself of who I am. Despite all the statuses of my current situation, I’m still me. I’m still independent in several respects, level-headed, smart, kind, open-minded, and driven. I still have people who support and care about me, people who understand why I made the choices I did. And I have a roof over my head and a car and have a steady access to food, clean water, and various forms of technology. So while I’m not where I want to be, I could be a lot worse off.
My message to you
So to all my single and unemployed peers, remember that there is nothing wrong with you. While we might not have everything people might expect us to at this age, nothing in your life is forever unless you make it forever. Life constantly throws knives to cut through our set paths, and it is how we deal with those moments that determine where we ultimately go and who we truly are.
And until our moment arrives, let’s have fun with the life we have now. If there is a new skill you have been dying to learn, do it. If there is a person from your past that you want to catch up with, meet him or her for lunch or coffee. If you feel out of shape, search for an activity that you will love doing. If there is a place you want to visit and are able to, go for it; just don’t forget to take photos.
Because when we finally do get a job and a partner, our free time will dwindle, and our goals will change. We won’t always have the chances we have now, so why not enjoy this time while we have it?
How do you cope with being single and unemployed or with any obstacle you are currently experiencing? Comment below, or feel free to share your story with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr.