Being on the dole of the unemployment kind and being a people watcher, I often get caught up in observing how people treat their fellow humans in different circumstances.
One theme I've been exploring lately is that of patience. I've been a variously patient and impatient sort. I surprise myself with the patience I have with young kids in a class and yet the Boston in me erupts when I encounter obviously non-thinking drivers.
But I have found the most interesting reactions from people who make assumptions about me, especially now that I am unemployed. I have long been active in the extracurricular activities that kept me sane during my previous jobs and those activities haven't changed because I have the need to stay sane now more than ever. What's changed is that instead of working 8 or 9 hours a day, I now look for a new job, I clean house (where I used to hire help there), mow the lawn (used to stimulate the local economy there, too), and cook (used to buy a lot of prepared or takeout to save time, now I cook from scratch). On a school day, I have less than 6 hours a day as opposed to my previous 8 or 9 to concentrate on what I need to get done, whatever that entails. And yet, many of my acquaintance think that I should be able to take on new commitments or somehow do more than I am. Is this a rant? Yes. I am railing against those people that feel they know I should be doing "better." I should be better at keeping in touch, I should be better at housekeeping, I should be a better community member, you name it, I should be better at it, just by virtue of being unemployed.
Why did the standard change from when I was being paid to work? I'm figuring out that it's the matter of perceived "free" time. I do admit that I can do things now that I could not before because I now have the time. But there is a balance sheet that comes into play. Take cooking for example. The fact that I am cooking our meals from scratch has meant a huge cost savings in our money budget, but, conversely, a huge expense in my time budget. The easiest meals I prepare are a minimum half hour prep and about a half hour cleanup. So I can make a pizza for a couple bucks instead of buying a take and bake pizza for $10-$12 or a fully baked one for $20. I spend a half an hour prep (while the bread machine does the bulk of the work during the two-hour lead time) instead of popping open a box upon arrival. Another example is now I am the bulk of the after school and summer time supervision for Resident Kid instead of paying for lots of after school activities and summer camps.
I am one of the lucky ones in terms of mental health (Death and Joblessness) and yet still I suffer the impatience of those amongst my acquaintance that believe I should somehow be able to get myself into a different situation if only I were really trying.
I, ironically, don't have patience with these sorts. I have found that my mental health improved when I realized that I don't need the added expectations from other people's measuring sticks. I don't need the ruler rapped on my knuckles to make me try harder. Ultimately, my motivation comes from the fact that it's my family's well-being that is at stake here and it is beyond me to understand why others believe that their approval or disapproval will spur me to greater deeds.
I use the unemployment situation as the example here, but really, doesn't this apply in other circumstances as well? I should be more patient with those sorry, inexperienced folks that believe I should magic a job out of thin air. But, by my sarcasm, I find I have a long way to go.