Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ode to a summer "funemployed"

IMG_6315My "funemployment" lasted from the end of April until September, and now that I'm part of the workforce again serving at East Side Mario's I can evaluate my decision to be jobless for four months.

IMG_6597After my Europe trip I moved out of my apartment in Hamilton and into my parents' house again. I did so without a job in Whitby and without any prospects or intention of looking for a job right away. That makes me sound like a bum, but in my defense I was also taking two online courses over the summer that demanded a lot of my time. However, looking back on my summer I can see that I could have successfully juggled school and a part time job. And probably also a gym membership.

IMG_6725IMG_6766Those four months were great! I went to Europe; enjoyed my last couple of weeks in Hamilton by going for hikes, exploring waterfalls, going to the aviary, and having a picnic on the escarpment with my sweetie; visited family; went to Cobourg beach several times in the hot summer months; celebrated birthdays; went to seven concerts; camped at Sandbanks; went to my family's cottage; relaxed; had fun; and when necessary I went to the library, studied, wrote papers and an exam.

Cobourg BeachIMG_7214IMG_7208
The positives:
  • Flexibility and freedom. School was my only obligation and since my courses were free-form and individual I could plan school around fun. I planned my library trips on days that my friends were busy. When plans were made with friends or family I was always available, so I almost never had to say no to summer fun! 
  • Relaxation. I have a habit of spreading myself too thin and becoming a big ball of stress. I work best under pressure, but it makes me a little crazy. I didn't get stressed out this summer because I was never overwhelmed, because I was never very busy. I think this has had a lingering positive effect on me, because even now that I'm juggling work, school and a social life, I feel much more capable of balancing everything, and I don't get as stressed out as I used to. It might help that I'm living rent-free... but I think my relaxing summer helped too.

The negatives:
  • Lack of income. This one is obvious; no job=no money. I knew that my Europe trip would eat into my savings quite a bit, and I was okay with that. But I thought that since I wouldn't have the same expenses living in Whitby with my parents as I did living in my apartment in Hamilton I wouldn't notice the lack of income so much. Unfortunately fun often costs money (even a trip to the beach costs money for gas and snacks), and since I had a lot of free time to fill up with fun I spent a lot of money.
  • Lack of motivation. I had all the time in the world to get school work done, and I usually didn't. It was very hard to motivate myself since a) my assignments had no deadlines, just a final end date for the courses, and b) I had no other obligations so there was nothing to keep me from procrastinating and putting off school work. I also put off other things in my life I wanted to achieve while I had so much spare time simply because I couldn't find the motivation.
  • Inactivity. There is some merit to having a routine and obligations. Now that I have a job I am more active not only on the days I work, but I want to accomplish things on my days off too. When every day is a day off it's very easy to spend them very lazily. I gained a few pounds over the summer, which I attribute to having a much less active lifestyle in Whitby than I did in Hamilton. In Hamilton I had to walk 10 minutes to take the bus to work or the library. I also walked to friends houses, to get groceries or do any other shopping, and I did a good amount of walking while at work (as all servers do). This doesn't sound like much but it added up, and cutting out all that walking had an impact. I also consistently worked out with the EA Sports Active Wii game in my living room, and though I tried to keep this up after moving home it quickly became another thing defeated by laziness. I didn't get a gym membership because of the cost, but I think I would have had a hard time motivating myself to go anyway, and it would have been a waste of money.

IMG_7639I don't like regrets and I look back on this past summer very fondly. I spent quality time with friends and family, kept up good grades, soaked up the lovely weather, and even got a tan! Now it's cold, I'm pale again, I'm working, and I even have a gym membership. I think that my current situation is much better for me. I'm "funderemployed!" I work part time, I'm still working on online courses, and I have a pretty good work-fun balance going on.

IMG_7795In conclusion, "funemployment" is great for taking trips or seriously tackling something in your life unrelated to work (ie: learning a second language, learning how to cook, etc). But you have to replace work with something else that will keep you going. Basically, you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning (instead of noon) other than driving to the beach to play and nap. It's a slippery slope of laziness if you let it be! But maybe time to relax is what you need, and if that's the case my advice is to wait until summer; it's the best time to unapologetically embrace laziness.