Reader Question: Hi! I’m really curious about your lifestyle. I’m currently unemployed and I’m having a dilemma of looking for a job that would get me some good sum of money and/or for the sake of having a job. I don’t really know if I’m just depressed of not having one for now but all I know is that I really want to travel and to do some volunteering but I don’t know where to start and I’m scared that It might not work out right for me. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just hoping that you’ll be able to enlighten me. Thanks! – Ritzel from the Philippines
Unemployment is a cycle. A comfort zone. It’s hard to break free. If you’ve been unemployed once, there’s a possibility that you may go through this again.
Because you already know how it feels and somehow, you’re okay with it. Imagine not waking up early to go to work, braving the traffic of the city, squeezing yourself in the metro rail just to reach the office on time.
Because you always want something. Something is always missing. You can’t stay in one job for a year because as time passes by, you lose interest in what you’re doing. You can’t last sitting on an office chair for 8 hours. Your days become repetitive. Your salary goes to rent, groceries, occasional beer with friends and you’re not saving anything for the vacation in Maldives you’ve been dreaming about.
Because you already know that it’s okay to run to your parents’ home for refuge — free food, delicious home-cooked meals, a break from eating McDonald’s/cup noodles/canned tuna for a month, free rent, free everything! Who doesn’t like that? And when you say, “Mom, give me a month,” she will always say, “Okay, you can stay here for a little while.” Of course, she will. She loves you and she wants what’s best for you. But then, you abused that love and used the give me a month card for 6 months. She gets pissed, tells your father and you’re all fighting in the house. You know what happens after.
You get depressed.
You cry yourself to sleep every night. You question your existence, your skills and your capabilities. Opportunities come but you don’t like them. You say, “This is a good job offer but it’s not for me.” Five job offers and 30 resume revisions later, nothing comes up. You’re left with nothing — not even a waiting list. Your relationship with your parents is in vain, your older siblings are mad at you, your neighbours will look at you like that 28-year-old freeloader daughter/son of (insert your mom’s name here).
Do something about it. Travel.
Go to China and teach English. You can earn up to U$20,000 per year if you do that. You are young. Your body will be okay with a little pollution and dirty street food. Immerse yourself with the 1 billion plus Chinese people. Visit the rural villages of the country, teach in a remote area, see what it feels like to live in China.
Get a working holiday visa in Australia. Be a bartender, a waitress, work for a fast food chain, take whatever is available and don’t feel less about yourself. It’s a “working holiday,” remember? Get used to their Australian accent. Surf in the Gold Coast, go on a road trip to the South of the country, or have a weekend exploring The Great Barrier Reef. Your call. Believe me, you will be able to afford it.
A lot of people don’t believe they can travel if they’re in the medical field but they can. They just don’t know it. Be a nurse in Africa. See how different that side of the world is. Understand that what you are going through is “unemployment” — not hunger nor poverty. Look into those children’s eyes. Though it doesn’t give you the right to feel good about other people’s adversaries, believe me when I say it will stop you from complaining about little things. You will be more compassionate about life.
Be an au-pair in Paris. Learn French. Have a coffee date with your new friends every afternoon. Get drunk at a wine tour — you don’t have to know that you need to spit out the wine after tasting it. Forget how wine tours work. Enjoy your first time. Kiss a random dude passing by the Eiffel Tower. Experience how to live being crazy and careless.
Work online and just go wherever you want. That would be easier. Be a freelance writer, a graphic designer, etc. Any skill that involves using the computer will help you do this.
There are tons of options and all you have to do is ask yourself: What is something I am good at? What is something I really really like doing? It can involve music, arts, literature, medicine, law and the list goes on.
This will also make you realise your strengths and tell yourself, “Well, look at that. I am not a bum after all.”
Because it is. All you have to do is pack a small bag, take what you need and leave. Oh, you need flight tickets too. If you don’t have money for that, borrow from your parents (Sorry moms and dads). They will be more than grateful you will be doing something different in your life. They will be proud that you’re making a change. If they don’t understand what you want to do, ask them to read this article. My mother wrote this. I am sure they will be enlightened. Be patient in making your parents understand. They’ll come around.Then one day, pay what you owe them. It can take months or years and I don’t care. Pay the money you owe for the air fare. Insist if they say no. Tell them that, “if I don’t pay you, it means that I didn’t succeed with my endeavours in life.”
It’s the best feeling in the world not because of your pride but because you will see that happiness in your mother’s face with all the love in her eyes.
Get out of the unemployment cycle. Travel.
Experience being hungry because you overlooked your expenses. You do that too while you are home anyway. Why not do it in another place?
Know how it feels like to sleep on the streets with other backpackers when hostels are full because of a big music festival.
Get pissed when the overnight bus leaves you because you didn’t make it on time. Have an argument with the ticket lady in another language.
Give yourself a break from paying rent. You will get to experience the feeling of spending your money to something that you really really like doing.
Again, you are young. A little street food won’t hurt. Don’t worry. Your body can adjust.
You will see that leaving your daily hell is the best decision in your 28 years of existence.
So, Ritzel, you said you’re scared that it won’t work out for you. Let me tell you this with all honesty: I don’t know if you will make it when you go out here but one thing, I know for sure: if you really want something, it will all work out. Not because of me, your parents or friends, but because of you.
It’s okay to be scared. That only proves you’re human and living. Where’s the fun in knowing what will happen tomorrow?
If you do what you love, the way will always open.
You will do it. You will save yourself from the depression of unemployment.
Disclaimer: The letter sender is not 28 years old. In fact, I don’t know how old she is. It’s just the first age that came into my mind while writing this.