Kelsey’s 5 Steps to Coping with Unemployment

1) Sleep

Get a good night’s rest, every night. Sleep in, because you can. Sleep in until you can sleep no longer. Then get up for a few hours until you feel you need a rest. Then take a nap. Also, don’t stay up too late.

2) Shower

There’s nothing like starting the day fresh. Usually, after breakfast, I try to remember the last time I took a shower. Sometimes it was the night before, and other times it was four days ago. Regardless of the timing, there is no better way to feel productive than to touch your body all over and scour yourself with soap and get a clean shave. Take your time during this step. No need to rush. Beauty takes time.

I prefer my showers particularly steamy. If I wasn’t too afraid of disease, I might even consider going to a bath house for this step. As it stands, I have to make my own steam room by locking myself in the bathroom with the windows closed and water on at least 106 degrees F.

Also, there is no better time to multi-task/brainstorm than when one is in the shower. Think about your day, think about your future. Think about all of those sex dreams you had last night and how real they seemed.

Repeat this step as necessary throughout the day. You can’t be too clean- that’s a myth.

3) Clothes

After your shower, get dressed. Act like you are going out for a night with friends, or even to the local mall. Think about going to the smallest mall you’ve ever been to, and dress as if you are better than everyone else who goes to that mall. And what about emergencies? If you run out of coffee, for instance, you will need to get more as soon as possibly possible. You’re going to want to be dressed for that. Safety first.

4) Coffee

It doesn’t matter how unproductive your day has been, or what hour it is. Brew enough coffee for at LEAST 10 cups/servings. Drink what you can, refrigerate the rest. You will want to have it on hand in case INSPIRATION hits. Maybe you decide it’s time to leave the house. YOU WILL NEED COFFEE. Or perhaps you’ve been procrastinating cleaning your room, cutting your nails, washing the dishes. Likewise, have it on hand.

Also you made something today. Hand-crafted. Your creation. PLUS, the better you get at making coffee, the better your chances of being hired! It is a great skill to put on your resume.

Coffee is your friend. I used to be afraid of being “addicted” (another myth), and then I realized: I have time in my life for addiction. Recovery time, the ups and downs, etc. And besides, there will never be a withdrawal period because I will never stop drinking it. NEVER.

5) Internet

At some point during the day you will realize that you’ve done nothing that aids your unemployment status. In these instances, do the following:

Google: “Am I qualified for Unemployment Benefits?” or “U.S. Unemployment” or whatever you see fit to get your due money from the government. Even if the search results aren’t clear, you can use the day to sort through them and learn about unemployment. You might even read stories of people worse off than you! And then you will pat yourself on the back for feeling so positive.

Google: “job + _____ (insert ideal job, both realistic and unrealistic)” For example, I might search:  ”acting gig, no experience required, NY, blonde, small, gay” and see what comes up.


Maybe you have a favorite site that you regularly check for jobs/entertainment/otherwise, such as, or Do this as often as possible. Give the rest of your money to them. Even if you don’t end up applying to anything, at least you know what’s out there. Tell yourself you can do better, then go take a nap.

Feel free to share some tips/tricks to dealing with unemployment in the comments!

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kelsey has written 7 articles for us.


  1. Set up a tumblr with a creative name and spend DAYS there.
    Go to stores but don’t actually buy anything.
    Call up friends and delight in the fact that you get to be in your peejays at noon while they have to sit at a desk somewhere.

    Or do this:
    One of my friends is doing it and I am so jealous.

  2. Take a new hobby that is either free or extremely cheap. Like juggling, new housecleaning techniques, cooking, or just developing knowledge of skills that you will never use.

    Find places in your area to get free food or entertainment. Art galleries, club events, museums, libraries, etc.

  3. I wish I were unemployed just to do all of this.

    Wait… I already do all of this! It’s called procrastination =)

  4. This WOULD be the post of the morning when I come home from the unemployment office. Touche, Kelsey.

      • I actually find better jobs quicker without going to the office, but it’s like, a rule for me that I have to go. Found out today that they’re shutting the office down permanently, so it looks like I have all the time in the world to do everything on this list.

  5. I’m not unemployed, but more of employed but with an erratic schedule. find myself doing #1 and #2 a lot (without excessively hot water).

    Doing that thing John Cusack does in High Fidelity helps too. Breaking down your day into chunks of 30 minute “units”.

      • righ right! you’re right! (i was just watching both on my laptop before bed as people with a ton of free time are wont to do, and mixed it up!)

  6. My favorite thing to do when I have downtime is go on YouTube and search for old Rosie O’Donnell Show interviews.

    For example, Britney Spears from 1999 on Rosie:

    OR, there’s always this old chestnut… Ellen DeGeneres on Rosie from 1996, before either came out publicly.

    Riese, can I have a segment on Autostraddle where I introduce old Rosie O’Donnell show clips?

    • If I want a quick pick-me-up, I search for videos in which Elizabeth Hasselbeck gets thoroughly owned by everyone else on The View. Good times.

    • Yes. I have actually done that exact thing, I think I’ve seen that clip twice. YouTube in general is good for periods of unemployment. You can find TV shows, original shows, music videos…

  7. I have been unemployed for like…decades, and so I started painting my apartment a million different shades of blue. I just started work on my kitchen cabinets yesterday. It’s pretty fantastic.

  8. Maybe it is passé and old media now, but don’t forget about daytime TV.

    When my Dad was unemployed for a couple of years, he wisely used the time to watch Countdown (best daytime quiz show in the world) every afternoon, and he realised he was great at it, applied to be on and got on.

    That meant that I got to go and be in the audience when they filmed his shows, and got to meet Susie Dent, celebrity lexicographer, generally perfect goddess, and my all-time #1 idol and crush.

    Consequently, I associate long-term unemployment with incidental wish-fulfilment. So maybe all you jobless could try getting on TV to see if you can make some young lesbian’s dream come true too.

    • That’s funny.

      And, of course, watching Countdown can later help with job assessment tests! So, it’s all good (as long as your Dad didn’t watch Loose Women).

  9. I’m a park ranger, which means that I work like a fucking person who works a whole lot from like April to October, but I don’t work for the rest of the year (and get paid – please don’t throw rocks at me).

    I like to come up with weird little projects. Like the other day I spent 8 hours making a cape.

    I learn random skills. I researched roofing techniques and then I put a roof on this barn thing with a friend and got under-the-table money / I hope the IRS doesn’t read AS.

    I pick themes for the day. Yesterday was face paint day. It was awesome.

    I go hiking.

    I make soup.

    I have impromptu dance parties! (sometimes alone)

    Basically, I try to mirror children’s television shows. But with the adult twist of alcohol and sex toys.

  10. Guys, I’m a graduate student. It’s like being unemployed, but without all the free time and slightly more pay.

    Fun and free for the unemployed: If you live near a large university you could totally sneak into large lecture halls and stimulate your brain for free. Just consult the schedule of classes.

    • I was unemployed for over a year before I sold my sold to work at a bank call center (It’s called a check register guys!).

      My sister works at Mount Holyoke College so at her suggestion I started attending talks by special speakers all the time. Not only did it make me well-rounded, I meant a lot of interesting people and can really hold my own in an adult conversation now.

      I’m lucky because within in 15 minutes of each other there is Mt. Holyoke, Smith, UMasss Amherst, Amherst College and Hampshire College. It’s like a lesbian incubator.

  11. Make lists of things to do. Include safety goals like “laundry” and “journal” in addition to reach goals like “get a job” and “write a book.” Always include “make a list of things to do” so you can quickly feel the accomplishment of checking it off.

    Start a blog. Then start another blog. Then start another blog. Obviously, one of the three will become wildly popular and you will live off the ad revenue for years.

    Practice yoga. Learn to meditate without anxiously waiting for the end so you can feel enlightened already. Seriously, it’s not like you have somewhere else to be. Just breathe.

    Paint your nails colors that weren’t appropriately ‘professional’ for your last job. Call your friends who still work there and tell them that you just slept until 10, painted your nails neon green, and are going to update your blog later, if you have time. Check “call working friends” off your list.

    • Kalinflynn is right: don’t take neon nails for granted! I have a job where they told me No sparkles. No glitter. No black. No midnight blue shimmer. No lilac. No seafoam green. No heather grey. Just effing matte or metallic pink all day everyday.

      I just painted my nails fire engine red and that’s really pushing it. I envy unemployed nails…I think that makes me weird.

      • I had a gig once where you weren’t allowed to speak in contractions. It was like hostessing for Dostoyevsky’s republic.

        • My friend worked at a hotel and they made her change her name. CHANGE HER NAME. Apparently there already was another Mariana, and no employee could have the same name so guests wouldn’t be confused.

    • I’m not unemployed,however I did just paint my fingers neon green yesterday and then got reprimanded. Touche on color choice!

  12. Get a subscription to netflix, so you can stream tv shows and movies- and then try to watch all of the x-files! See if you can finally understand Kate Mckinnon’s obsession with Dana Scully, there are seriously so many seasons of the x-files. There are also some lesbian movies, just saying.

  13. I am also a grad student, but sadly I do not get paid, therefore postgraduate studies = unemployment

    I like to knit. Then I can feel as if I have accomplished something.

    And I make a kickass pot of coffee with my french press.

    • HEY! Your parents took my name! Do you find it awkward explaining to people that you spell your name with a period at the end? Any chance you’re my doppelganger?

      I have a job but like wasteunit I have tons of free time and I highly recommend: skipping, playing in the rain, making your neighbor cookies, giving handpicked flowers to your local coffee shop (when you get a job I suggest buying your local coffee shop girl coffee from the cafe down the street – more than once cause the more you do it the funnier it gets), reading, making collages, playing guitar, sending handmade postcards to random people in the telephone book, taking lots of pictures, and hiking!

    • I got back from vacation to find out I had been temporarily laid off, I’m freaking the fuck out and having an existential crisis over it.

  14. Not having to get dressed is one of the best parts about being unemployed! Veronica Mars reruns don’t care what I look like.

  15. Learn to speak a new language so that when you get back to the job market you have a little something extra for your resume.

    Not that I think Icelandic is actually helping me in my job hunt…

  16. I work in tv, so I’m unemployed in between every episode (pretty much every 3 months.) The first week is always fun but after that it’s hard to feel like a person. I love this list and am totally going to employ it next time I’m funemployed (COMING SOON!)

    I like having cleaning projects with no deadline. If all you managed to do between Monday and Friday is mop the kitchen, at least that week you mopped the kitchen! Employed people NEVER have time for mopping!

    I’ve also done stop motion films because they take an incredibly long time and feel like real accomplishments and everyone will marvel about how wonderfully creative you are.

    I love the idea of projects. Easily completable projects, like knitting or cleaning or painting or letter writing. Having a to do list keeps the unemployment depression a little further away.

    Also, most of your friends are unemployed as well, so that’s a great reason to leave your house.

    LEAVE THE HOUSE! Go do your internetting somewhere else.

  17. Ride you bike! I spent hours riding my bike around my city this summer. I rode slowly down streets I’d never been on before. I rode uphill when I wanted a challenge. I rode like a manic after watching “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and deciding I needed to be as muscular as her. I rode to errands and didn’t feel like I’d wasted time/gas money when I didn’t find what I needed.

    Except that winter’s coming which means take a Vitamin D suppliment, lie in your window to stave off scurvy, wrap really pretty Christmas presents in old magazines you have lying around, and learn how to use lay and lie correctly.

    • Nooo, you can ride your bike in winter, too, mostly! All the positive accomplishing-important-things and being-a-superhero feelings you get from doing errands by bike in good weather? Multiply those by like 100 when it’s below freezing and there’s some snow on the ground. Good warm gloves and socks/boots are important, but otherwise you stay pretty warm as long as temps are still in the double digits.

  18. wake up around noon, get coffee, get online, play eve til the evening, sit on the porch with your roommate and drink copious amounts of alcohol. con the employed roommate into driving you to that mexican resturant down the street (because youve been drinking) when the bill comes, conviently state that you lost your wallet and that youll pay back employed roommate when you get the chance. go home, finish alcohol, get back online. repeat. you can substitute eve with WoW, or videogames in general, and mexican place with pizza/chinese/ryans/other. also, its nice to fit in a shower and brushing your teeth amidst the days events. when i did finally get a job, i really did pay back employed roommate…just sayin.

  19. That post is me right now. I just spent the day catching up with tv shows, still in my pjs, and also watched 3 films(including KickAss, that was epic awesomeness).
    My body is screaming stop it, move your ass and get out, yet my mind is in a blur :D It’s evening now so I can go back to sleep again LOL.
    Aaah freelancing with no guarantees, joy.

  20. It goes against the never-leave-the-house-because-I-don’t-have-to rhetoric but going to the gym is one of the best strategies. You can take your time, scope out hotties and work on becoming one of them. Solid strategy.

  21. NYC-ers: apply to Strand Books! It’s FULL TIME and awesome. After an anxiety-ridden four months of post-grad unemployment, I got hired here. Cute women and rare books — what could be better? Do it.

    • my friends chris chris and arthur work there! one of the chrises is awful and one is wonderful. arthur is alternatingly awful and wonderful. HI to you!

  22. -take free classes at the mac store
    -read books in book stores
    -make crafts (and maybe try to sell them)
    -browse free craigslist for things to sell
    -browse the book section of craigslist for books worth money
    -a fun activity i like to call “poverty food test kitchen”

    • Ha! “Poverty Test Kitchen”.

      I know well of what you speak. If you ever need my recipe for hot dog fried rice let me know.

  23. This has given me major flashbacks from my ‘Year of Horror™’ two years ago. Find every long running tv show you’ve ever wanted to watch and have a marathon, beginning to end. Repeat x infinity.
    Also – volunteer at your local pet-helping organisation (eg. my local Cat Protection Society) because kittens make everything better.
    It’s also pretty much the best time ever to start dealing with all your life perspective/unhappy memories/purpose of life shizen, rather than waiting till it causes a surprise-breakdown-attack 20 years in the future. I’m actually really serious about this.

  24. Love this post. I swear, I wrote it… except that “getting dressed” consists of changing into another pair of sweatpants & hoodie.

    I’m trying to learn a language… I got a bunch of books (for free!) from my library. My library carries movies & TV shows, also free! Unemployment = become an expert in pop culture.

    I need some more cheap hobbies though! I’m sick of spending so much time online because there is nothing better to do!

  25. “Think about going to the smallest mall you’ve ever been to, and dress as if you are better than everyone else who goes to that mall.”

    ↑ Perfect/hilarious.

    I’m not sure if I have what it takes to do that, but I’ll definitely think about it to amuse myself.

    • In-store apps only, I think. Take the elevator up to the 3rd floor and someone will direct you to the offices. :)

  26. This should be entitled “5 Reasons Why Being Unemployed is AWESOME.” SUCK IT productive members of society!

  27. i feel like everyone is getting smarter right now than they would at work. and um, self-actualized or something. when i became unemployed i started a website. that’s pretty much all i’ve gotten done so far.

    • “i feel like everyone is getting smarter right now than they would at work.”

      I agree, and this is happening because so many of the jobs are so moronic that doing them repetitively for any length of time will leave a person as dumb as it is possible for a human animal to become.

  28. I’m using this period of unemployment to watch the entire series of “Daria” on DVD. Quinn is more of a bitch than I remember, and I still want to punch Brittany and Kevin in their faces and be besties with Daria and Jane.

    My life kind of rocks right now, not gonna lie.

  29. I’m unemployed at heart. That means I sort of get employed at times but I don’t really want to and I stay unemployed inside.

    • Yes I know how this is! I have actually been pretty consistently employed for like the past seven years, but I somehow feel latently unemployable. Even now, having just been promoted to a terrifyingly grown-up and extremely full-time job at work, I am always sort of thinking BUT WHAT IF I HAVE TO FIND A JOB? I WILL NEVER FIND ONE. It’s like I just self-identify as Unemployed or something.

  30. I recommend never buying very much when you go to the grocery store. This way, you have to go back often and have an excuse to leave the house on a regular basis.

    Video games help, too. Why better yourself when you can kill things?

  31. I started a webcomic. Obviously.

    and started watching repeats of Melrose Place. I also eat alot of toast, but this is mainly so I dont freeze to death. My biggest problem at the moment is freezing to death.

  32. i rewatched every episode of 30 rock. they’re all streaming on netflix. netflix is essential to unemployment.

  33. I’ve been playing video games for 3 days, pausing to sleep and get food. I’ve already beat a game too :) Now if only I had a job so I had the money to go buy Black Ops..
    Oh, and anyone want to teach me how to knit? I would love you forever. I need a scarf for winter. It gets cold up here! :)

  34. 1. Netflix is definately a winner and I enjoy that they basically refer to me as ‘dark, drugs, strong women, documentaries’.
    2. I call my unemployed friend when ANTM is on an all day roll and we watch together and while doing so:
    3. try to take only prescription medications due to possible drug testing.
    Noncompliance with #3 makes those days when I can’t apply feel like a valid excuse or an earned vacation, so it’s sort of a win-win.

    • they love referring movies to me that are “Dramas With a Strong Female Lead” – it’s netflix calling me a homo under disguise.

  35. This post and the comments make me feel better about graduating in 6 months. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but hey, at least I can F5 autostraddle all day. [and learn a new language. Suggestions?]

  36. Haha I’m not gonna lie…I really disliked this post!! I mean, it’s bad enough to read the news daily because of all of the depressing stuff…seeing a headline like “coping with unemployment” doesn’t get me jumping.

    Then I thought, well, unemployment IS a reality, so why not give the post a chance…?

    Sadly it was not a very uplifting post! It was kinda humorous in a thiscouldbetheworstadviceever way, but besides that….lol.

    I mean, sleep and internet are terrible things to indulge in when unemployed! Perhaps that’s part of the ironic humor or something, but overall I just found this depressing (as someone who recently lost her job).


  37. offense kelsey! someone had to make a post like this, and i think the comments are fab, but i agree about the article itself, not the best tips!
    was just talking about this with a friend last night. sleeping, showering, getting dressed, drinking coffee and using the internet are not really coping mechanisms, but Things To Do In The Morning If You Are Alive. but again, i appreciate the sentiment. but since we’re all adding, i’d include:
    1.wake up EARLY well on your resume, often
    4.go on interviews, a lot
    5.start a blog
    6.reorganize your closet/give away clothes you don’t wear and buy some new ones
    7.get a new hairstyle/always look fabulous
    8.have a lot of sex all the time

    • It’s not an informational piece of literature as much as it is a personal essay/opinion/humor piece that was used to get a discussion going, which, by the looks of it, was successful (your comment included)! Apologies if it is mislabeled or if you didn’t find it humorous. I think the ways you mention to get off your ass and LIVE your life are really very helpful.

      I was offering a humorous look into a quite (personally) depressing subject. I’m hoping to help people feel a little less alone – by presenting the most time-sucking things a person could do (and I do!) when unemployed, I hoped to help people relate and giggle, at my expense even! I’d like us all to feel better about ourselves for like, ONE SECOND IN TIME. We all do these things. They are human indulgences and they are ok. They’re not great. But look at all of the solutions we’ve come up with by discussing! If I told them to you, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. And you know what? I like talking to you.

  38. Can I just mention how much I relate to the excerpt from “the unemployment dictionary” right now even though I’m not unemployed.

  39. Dollar store oil paints.
    Make your home an art gallery.
    And then charge people to come over.
    Voila- job!

  40. I laughed so hard through this entire post… because every point is completely true of my life at the moment. Except I don’t make my own coffee. For shame.

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