So I did it. I posted 30 different things, 30 different adventures, 30 different days about Grand Rapids. It wasn’t easy, I’ll be honest. I had trouble coming up with ideas. I struggled to spit out words every day. I felt guilty spending money and gas on things around town. But I kept pushing through until the last day.
And was it worth my time to do it, in the end?
I suppose it depends. What was my goal, after all? Did I even have one?
I started this project the minute I entered the strange new realm of unemployment. I think I wanted to use this project to keep me occupied and keep my mind off the fact that I no longer had a job. I wanted a daily reminder to be positive and grateful, and focusing on the city I love so much was the perfect way to do it.
It’s really not easy being an American adult without a job. We place so much emphasis on our careers. I was in this situation two years ago when I graduated my Master’s program. And I didn’t handle it well. Without a job, I forget who I am. I feel like I have no purpose, like I am a burden on my hard-working husband and the home we’ve built together.
I wish I could say that this time has been different, but I’ve spent the majority of the last month feeling really anxious and overwhelmed as well as insufficient, undesirable, and unqualified at pretty much everything in my life.
There were many days I didn’t feel like I should be writing. I often talked myself out of it, convinced that it wasn’t worth my time. The only way I could persuade myself to keep at it was the promise I made to my readers. But I wondered, should I really be writing when there are jobs to apply for? Should I really be doing something FOR FUN when I should be doing something more productive? Is this time well spent?
This concept of “time well spent” is something I’ve been struggling with all month. Quitting my job left me with a lot of time on my hands. I made a list of all the things I should accomplish during my “sabbatical.” Of course the first was finding a new job. But there were other things: projects around the house, getting some writing published, finding some freelance opportunities. There was so much work to do. I should use this time wisely.
By focusing only on being productive, I forfeited other things I enjoyed as well, like going for walks or attending yoga classes or laying by the pool. Why should I get to have fun while my husband works his butt off? So I wouldn’t make time for these feel-good activities. The lack of feel-good activities left me feeling not very good indeed.
I finally realized that there had to some kind of balance. Yes, I should make time for looking for a new job and making some money with my writing. But I should also make time for things that make me feel good, that are fun for me, that make me smile. Because it’s true—all work and no play makes Jenny a very sad girl.
So yes, this project was time well spent. I actively and regularly wrote in August, which is more than I can say for July or June or any month before that. I had some good pieces of writing and I have some ideas I can build off of in the future. And it was fun to brag about, openly appreciate, and share my city with all of you.
No matter how long I’m in this limbo of unemployment, I will keep blogging about things that make me happy. I will go for walks and do yoga and lay by the pool as long as summer lets me. By doing that, I can stay positive, and if I can stay positive, I can make it through this transition period and whatever comes after. As long as I keep making time for myself, I can look back on this period of my life and know that this was time well spent.