I’ve been looking for a job in the UK for about six weeks now (not a very long time, I know, but it feels like a long time). I’m incredibly lucky that I have a supportive and indulgent husband who is willing to ensure my sanity by bankrolling last-minute trips to Israel and laughing when I come home with watercolor sets (I may have done that on Thursday). But it still gets boring. I was reflecting today on being unemployed/being a Woman of Leisure, and I realized I’ve learned some valuable lessons.
I read a really great article on Slate a few months ago that gives thoughtful, logical advice on how to be a job seeker. If you’re actually looking for a job, you should read that. These are my insights on how to avoid depression along the way.
1. My mother’s rule: leave the house before noon. It doesn’t matter where you go. Just leave the house.
2. Exercise. If you can’t, then revert to rule #1.
3. Put on clothes. If you’re leaving the house, you’ll need to do that anyway. But when I worked from home in 2008, people would always say “that must be so nice! I would never put on real clothes!” Don’t listen to them. Put on clothes. Spending too much time in your pajamas is not good for your mental health; wearing trousers without elastic waistbands will also encourage you to commit to exercising.
4. Create projects for yourself. I just started reading Harry Potter in French, a language I half-speak (if I’m being wildly optimistic). The three hours I spent on the first chapter of “Harry Potter a l’Ecole d’Hogwarts” today were amazing: its been a little while since I’ve been truly intellectually challenged (especially since I’ve steamrolled my husband at Boggle three times this week. I promised I’d stop gloating so much….)
5. I just moved to a new place, so I don’t have very many friends and I’m still learning my way around the city. Still, managing our meager social calendar has been fun: we went to a “Mozart by Candlelight” concert on Friday and have been to a few cultural attractions. I’ve also joined a yoga studio and have taken zumba classes, and I’m trying to diversify my exercise to meet more people.
6. This last one is something that I heard on The Moth podcast recently: do the thing that will have the most anecdotal value. This is my new credo. If its likely to yield a good story, its probably worth doing. And if you’re doing things that are giving you good stories, you’re unlikely to get depressed.
So a lot of the items might be pretty intuitive, but they’re lessons worth learning and sticking to. And just because they’re obvious doesn’t mean they’re easy to follow. I’m really looking forward to January: I have some volunteer opportunities lined up; I’ll be taking a class on Cambridge history once a week, and I’m hoping to sign up for a photography class through the city’s adult ed program. And right now, I’m going to go finish the butternut squash quiche I made yesterday and then try to make some pretzel bread. Wish me luck.