‘So how’s unemployment treating you?’
This was one of two questions that a friend asked me a couple of weeks after I left my full-time job back in July to pursue my other goals. (The other question I will write about in next week’s post).
I remember thinking; ‘Those are interesting words to use to ask me how this exciting next step in my life is going!’
Of all the words to use in that question he could have asked:
- ‘How’s this next step coming along?’
- ‘So where are you hoping your new adventure to take you in the near future?’
- ‘How are you enjoying your new found freedom?’
But instead he chose to structure his question through asking ‘how’s unemployment?’
For a split second his words shook me and I had a small flash of worry come over me about the recent life changing choice I had made.
‘Shit! I’m actually unemployed right now!’
For that fleeting moment I felt like my balloon of excitement had deflated.
(In case you need clarification, that’s obviously not me….I think the fact I would never wear a denim shirt is what gave it away).
Why did his words shake me? Because of all of the scary and worrying thoughts and actions we have been brought up with to associate to the word ‘unemployment ‘ and the dangers to where that can lead you.
Unemployment = no job / no financial stability / less opportunities / no money coming in to pay the bills / huge risks / no ability to save / no chance to travel / a gap in your CV / stress / anxiety / worry / disempowered
I only had a second to process his question, (as it can be seen as weird if you just stare back at someone and don’t reply) but I still answered with a smile on my face;
‘Yeah, unemployment is treating me really well!’
I said this because it was! I had chosen to leave my full-time job, I had chosen this next step, I had chosen to voluntarily step into unemployment. I knew I had made the right choice, and with those thoughts I reinflated my balloon.
I had chosen a different path that I wanted to take and a brief step into the unknown regarding trading off my stable full-time income for it was a neccessity for me.
It was all my choice, and I felt empowered by my decision rather than scared by it.
Firstly, it had always been part of my plan after leaving my job to secure work on a part-time basis so that my bottom line finances were covered, such as paying rent food and a bit left over afterwards. Also, with the way things worked out I ended up having a two day per week subcontracting job lined up that was due to start a couple of weeks later – so in terms of his idea of ‘unemployment’, that wasn’t a worry for me as I had steady money coming in soon. I had also built up a good chunk of savings so I wasn’t in any immediate danger of not being able to make rent. But if I didn’t have that work lined up in advance then I would be unemployed and searching for work, but I would work it out! I would find something, somewhere, anywhere, and from that who knows what people I will meet and things I would learn that would help me further myself. That’s part of the adventure!
I think if I had used the word unemployment when working out my next steps it could have slowed me down or stopped me from making the step at all in the first place, because at thirty one years old most people would ask (and have asked) why would I be stepping out of the security of my salary and everything that comes with it, for something unknown, and that for the foreseeable future I will have to be managing on much less money to make it happen. But in my mind I had a plan before I left my job and the general outline of that was what I was sticking to to make my next steps happen.
So why am I telling you all of this?
Because if you aren’t aware of how other peoples choice of words can affect you by not consciously paying attention to the specifics then before you know it you could quickly go from being self-assured in your decision to wondering if you have made a big mistake, even if you know in your essence of who you are that you haven’t.
Ultimately, the questions and words used by those around us only demonstrates the lens through which that particular person is looking at the situation. In the above question asked by my friend I smiled inside after I had processed what he’d said as I suddenly realised that yes, it was a question to me, but it wasn’t about me. For me his question made me understand more about him rather than the other way around. The way he has framed his chosen words simply reflects his own view of the steps I have taken. From his viewpoint he sees it as risky, but it is only his perception of what I’ve done.
If you are in similar situations it is vitally important to remember that this isn’t necessarily your view point and it isnt your mindset.
For me, where he used the word unemployment I use the word freedom.
We are looking at the same situation but through my lens, although I acknowledge there are risks involved, I have chosen to focus on a different word which brings excitement, energy and drive to encourage me to move forward and see my next step as an exciting challenge rather than label my choice as something that has an overwhelmingly scary undertone that might stop me making the step I want to make in the first place.
Its all a choice – and although sometimes it’s easier said than done – keep working at it as at the base of it all you choose how to hear what is being said to you, you choose to allow certain phrases to stick in your mind, and you also choose the language with which you talk to yourself.
So if any of those words from within you or others are going to stick, let them be the positive ones!
‘May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears’ – Nelson Mandela
Thanks for reading,