I left “The Bert Show” on my own terms last year, but didn’t return to a strict work schedule until recently. In that timeframe I realized there are phases one goes through while out of work, regardless of why you aren’t working, and if you are not careful your family will become very uncomfortable with your sabbatical.
Phase One: Now What Do I Do?
It really doesn’t take long to discover that great authors are great authors because they are writing as a profession, not a hobby. The next great novel may be within you, but after a few weeks of your newfound freedom from corporate America, are there still only a few words on the page?
You reluctantly admit that writing isn’t as fun as you thought it would be. The same holds true for any artistic endeavor you might pursue during this time — painting, knitting, whatever. For most of us it all ends the same: This is not meant to be your next career.
When you tell your loved one this news, there is still plenty of encouragement for your efforts. At least you tried. Now, you know.
Phase Two: I Thought Time Off Was Supposed To Be Fun.
This is the phase when you realize that things you put off doing at home while a paid employee, like cleaning the garage or repainting a room, are things you really never wanted to do in the first place.
You assumed your busy lifestyle is why you postponed those projects, but now that you have the time you still don’t do them. You justify your inaction by the illusion that taking time off means you should relax.
This is a dangerous fork in the road in your relationship. If you choose poorly and don’t push through and complete those unfinished projects around the house, your loving girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse will silently notice and the patient understanding for your transition in life will quickly fade.
It has now become too much about you, and you aren’t pulling your weight.
Phase Three: I Can’t Get Out of Bed.
It’s 11 a.m. and you are still in bed playing Words with Friends. Reality has set in that no one is calling to beg you to come work for them.
For some reason you had the notion that while absent from the workplace you would be missed, and others would see the hole you left behind and rescue you. It’s not like you are fresh out of college with no experience — you had a career!
Once you remind yourself how to construct a resume, the rejection overwhelms you and staying in bed all day seems like the better option.
This is when you and your partner can’t relate to each other at all, and if you chose the Phase Three option of not doing anything around the house, this is also when you fight the most.
It’s hard to see someone struggle to find work. But when you are the one in that position, you have to remember there are ways to avoid making the experience worse on yourself.
First you must leave the job behind, not the people closest in your life.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter