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For the second time in my life, I’m unemployed. Like so many others in America, the company that I worked for had lay offs and I lost my job. Everyone had advice for me in those first few weeks of unemployment: attend lots of networking events, see a resume writing professional, don’t forget to sign up for unemployment benefits.

I was packing up my desk when a (former) coworker said to me the one thing he wished he had done when he was unemployed was enjoy it. Wait, what? Enjoy not making enough money to pay my mortgage? Enjoy not having the camaraderie of colleagues? I nodded empathetically but thought yeah, right, like I’m going to enjoy this. 

You might have noticed, if you’re a diligent reader of this blog like me (just kidding), that I haven’t posted in a while. My last post was actually from my last week at work. I attended an event armed with self-awareness, self-confidence, and the self-assuredness that comes with having a full-time job. I had been there almost two years, but before that, I had been unemployed for 8 months.

The longer you’re unemployed the harder it is to get motivated to find a new job. It’s harder yet to pull yourself out of the mindset that you’re not continuing on with your life. You’re not getting interviews, your family are all off at work or school and continuing on with their lives, and you’re not. I did not enjoy those 8 months, and I was scared of feeling that helpless again.

When I was let go this time, I cried. A lot. If there hadn’t have been lay offs, I would still be there loving it and striving to be better at my job. My coworkers were the best and made everyday so much fun, and I knew all of that was over.

I wanted things to be different from the last time I was unemployed; I could never go through that again.

Today marks the 20th week that I’ve been unemployed, and I’ve enjoyed it. Over the last few months, I dedicated my days to myself and my wellbeing. I practiced yoga twice a week, slowly unwinding all of the kinks that had built up from stress. I started walking my dog 20 minutes a day, then 40 minutes, now 60 minutes. I joined a gym and my average steps per day went from 8k to 12k. I’m also caught up on all of my TV shows #showhole but that’s a different blog post…

I’m trying to fill my days with stuff that matters and not contribute to that butt-print in the couch. I’m applying to jobs too, and as anyone who has ever been unemployed can attest to, that’s a full-time job.

My silver lining to unemployment has been the time off: I wouldn’t have been able to focus on myself and figure out what step I wanted to take next in my career. And that’s exciting! It could be something great.