The Stages of Unemployment

Maybe you’re graduating school and going on to “real things”. Maybe you’re leaving a job because your contract ended and coworkers failed to see your professional superpowers. Or perhaps you hate that goddawful place and left your desk a purposeful mess for your Satan of a boss to clear out.

It doesn’t matter how you got to this point, what matters is that you’re here, and funemployment is staring you in the face. Get ready, because the phases of joblessness are much like the phases of grief, in no particular order and bound to regress at any given time:

  • “Busy” Phase– it’s fine that everyone you know has 9-5 places to be. It’s cool that your grandma just came out of retirement because she misses feeling useful. That isn’t for you. You need to paint your nails and practice new ways of applying eyeliner. Maybe you’ll be brave and you tube “How to Give Yourself a Bob Cut”. The possibilities are limitless.
  • TV Phase: Consists of gluttonist amounts of TV & Netflix,  which you’re convinced will never lose their allure. Unbeknownst to you, your TV interests will soon devolves into popular 80s movies, not as popular 90s shows(7th Heaven?) childhood cartoons(Magic Schoolbus, Hey Arthur), present-day cartoons (Dora–who needs Rossetta Stone when you have Dora La Exploradora en Espanol?)
Hey, even cartoons have doppelgangers.

Hey, even cartoons have doppelgangers.

  • Apathy Phase:Where you numbingly wonder your chances of fading into the great back hole of irrelevancy. Your life is Groundhog Day, only you’re not as cool or important as Bill Murray, who still finds ways to be relevant:
Good Ol Billy crashing this unsuspecting couple's engagement photos.

Good Ol Billy, crashing this unsuspecting couple’s engagement photos.

  • Crying Phase: it happens eventually, unexpectedly, starting off as slow, quiet pity sobs and unraveling into puffy-cheeks snotted-shirt, fire-truck wails. You sniffle and hyperventilate a little and then think, “Why  the fuck am I crying? I can do whatever I want, for days on end.” And then you cry harder at the pointlessness of life.
  • I will Sleep Forever Phase: Sleep isn’t for the dead, it’s for the unemployed. Put down the coffee, step away from the eye-puffiness concealer, you’re about to binge sleep and no one can stop you.
  • Healthy phase: You are going to be the most proactively unemployed person you know. You’ll go for your morning run, eat kiwi for breakfast, froyo only on weekends. When you’re motivated enough to head to the gym in the early afternoon, you’ll have to sift through the seniors doing adaptive aerobics, but you’ll be secretly glad because you’re the hottest person working out, no contest.
  • Drunk Phase: Where alcohol creeps into any part of every day, because you have no one to be accountable to, and drunk job hunting is way more doable than sober scowering. Until you have to proofread your cover letter.
  • Intellectual Phase: Usually sandwiched somewhere between the “Busy” Phase and the Healthy Phase, this involves reading all those books you’ve been meaning to educate yourself with but haven’t found the time. Now time is endless, and those books are throwing themselves off the shelves at you. And by “reading books” you mean getting to the half-way point and deciding you get the gist of the subject.
  • “Networking” Phase: In which you attend all free workshops, groups and volunteer opportunities, chanting some segment of “The Favour Bank” philosophy in your head as justification for your wasted time. When your friends bitch about work, you bust out with, “Yesterday, it was my day to volunteer at the library…” and wince as you ooze lonernerdiness.
  • Actually Busy Phase: You don’t have a job, for real. This morning when you looked in the mirror, your reflection told you you’r going to die unaccomplished and alone with no money to speak of if you don’t get your professional facade together and pretend to be amazing at everything already.

Her face in your face sent you to the computer and you actually applied for stuff. For hours. It’s like you hypnotized yourself.

Don’t lose heart, it’s not your fault you suck, the economy is really, really terrible.



  1. Super blog. I have been unemployed for a while and have went through many of these phases. Your blog is true to life. Thanks for the encouragement at the end. I finally do have a job now that start date has been pushed back another three weeks. Sharing this blog. I hope it travels well. A lot of people can use it!!!

  2. I didn’t go through all of these phases. I went through a phase of being frustrated when I realized that my two bachelor’s degrees were pretty much no better than a high school diploma because in my field you have to have a master’s (which I have since attained). I went on to work as a live-in nanny until I had my son. Now I work from home. Some people don’t view it as a real job, but I have been able to stay home for the past 2 years despite being a single mom since May 2011.

  3. I don’t think I suck. Nonetheless, the economy is disgusting to say the least. There’s always the option of making your own job. I’ve taken up writing. I haven’t make any money to speak of but I can call it my job.

    • There are entire programs in Ontario that are dedicated to assisting people with starting up their own business, so creating your own job is an option, provided you have an idea or service that is sell-able. If you’re committed enough to consider writing your job, i commend you–I doubt I could do it full-time. That takes much focus and follow-through.

  4. I’ve been unemployed since 2009 due to having a child and now being in physical therapy and it sucks. Trying to get back into the workforce sucks even more especially being out of it for so long. One can only hope that this sucky economy gets better so less people are jobless and homeless.

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