how people react when you don't have a job

One of the interesting things I’ve encountered post job quitting is how society has handled it. Usually a conversation starts with the generic “what do you do” question and then I say something along the lines of “i’m taking some time off” or “i’m not working right now.” The usual responses:

⦁ They look confused

⦁ They ask why you quit. Some with genuine interest, some in confusion.

⦁ They pretend to understand but still seem confused (no judgement, i would've been the exact same way a year ago)

⦁ They ask what your plans are and expect a concrete answer (hint - it’s okay not to have an answer)

⦁ They stop asking about your life (this happens A LOT)

The reason I find this so fascinating is because it became very apparent to me that we just don’t know what to do with someone who doesn’t work. And I think the reason is that our society puts value in the job you’re doing and not who you are as a person. Which is a BUMMER, but I also was not exempt from this at all. Which meant that when I quit my job I definitely struggled with feeling valuable and worthy because I put all my self-worth in my career.

During that period, one thing I asked myself was, “well, if we shouldn’t put our self-worth in our job, where should we be putting it?” and honestly, I did some really good googling and didn’t find a great answer anywhere. But my answer and self-worth mantra has become: I am worthy because I’m a human being with unique strengths and abilities. That’s it. I was given unique talents that others don’t have and I don’t want to take them for granted. The fact that I’m human makes me vulnerable and imperfect, but it also makes me inherently worthy of love and belonging.

So I would encourage you to think about where you’re putting your self worth and how you would feel if you or someone close to you quit their job. And if you’re ever in that situation, please don’t stop asking about their lives and their days just because you can’t say “how’s work?”. Even though they don’t have a 9 to 5 doesn’t mean their time is less important and odds are they’re doing fun things that they’d enjoy discussing more than their old job!

Bracey GeorgeComment