Queered & Careered: In the Meantime (Or Things to Do While You’re Unemployed)

There are so many reasons why people can’t or don’t work. Some struggle to find a job no matter how hard they try and some may not be able to work temporarily or long term because of a mental or physical disability. Whatever the reason, studies show that unemployment leads to negative impacts on mental health (thanks a lot, capitalism). Though there is no way to avoid all the negative impacts of unemployment, there are a few simple tried and true actions you can take every day to stay positive during this time of transition.


Practice Non-Capitalist Forms of Self-Care & Affirmation.

Contrary to what the advertisements tell us, #selfcare is about so much more than expensive massages, french manicures, and booking a flight. Self-care, at its root, is about creating daily practices that restore and rejuvenate us. And with all the discrimination many of us face, both when we have a job and when we are unemployed, self-care can be a life affirming practice that consistently reaffirms our right to treat ourselves with love and respect. Take stock of what makes you feel good and find free ways to interact with that part of yourself. If you love nature, find the time to get outside. If you love reading, go to the library and pick up a few trashy romance novels. Job searching can be stressful and taxing so find ways to affirm and celebrate yourself throughout the process.

Spend Some Time in Reflection. Utilize This Time to Reflect on What You Want and Need in Future Positions.

If you could choose, what would your ideal work environment look like? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How will this next position help you on the journey to your long term goals?

Working through these questions will help you clarify your career goals while also giving you a sense of purpose and vision while you wait for your next opportunity. Tarot and journaling can be helpful tools throughout this process, but feel free to process these questions with a friend, a coach, or a trusted mentor as well.

Make Sure Your Application Materials Are Solid.

When you apply for jobs, you will at least need a resume and cover letter (depending on what industry you are in, you may also need clips or a portfolio). There are so many resources available to job seekers who would like to get their materials reviewed. Your first line of defense would, of course, include Career Coaches and Career Development professionals. If you graduated from college, many Career Services departments offer free coaching and document reviews for alumni. If you don’t have access to any Career Coaches, high school guidance counselors, mentors, friends, and family members can be a great resource to ask for help as well (I’m sure that most of them, if not all of them, have successfully applied for and attained a job at least some point in their life!).

If you don’t have anyone to turn to, the internet, as always, can be your best friend. Websites like Entrepreneur, Inc, and The Muse offer numerous articles, videos, and blog posts on how to conduct a successful job search. Though we can make the most of our unemployment, some of these resources will help to expedite the process.

Start or Invest in a Temporary Hustle.

Get a part time job. Work at a department store for a few weeks around the holidays. Sell pies. Start charging your friends for tarot readings. Though these side hustles don’t usually come with medical or health benefits, they can give you the extra cash you’ll need to make it through until your next opportunity comes along. Ask around about temporary work and find opportunities to utilize your talents and strengths to make some extra cash.

Volunteer.

Capitalism equates industry with worth so unemployment can often leave us feeling like we are unworthy without a job to attach ourselves to. Volunteering is a great way to gain a sense of purpose while also helping others and making the world a better place. Whether you’re shelving books at a library, registering participants at a cancer walk or serving food at a soup kitchen – find ways to give back to your community and you won’t be disappointed.

Ask for Support From Friends, Family, and Chosen Family.

This is the time to call in the squad – those people who are the first to cheer you on and invest in your success! If you’re like me, you hate asking for help when you’re struggling, but as my wonderful friend Joana told me recently: “What if you reaching out and asking for help is EVERYTHING to someone?” Allow the people who love you to be with you on your journey. They can support you by giving advice and motivation, and as we learned in the last post – they can use their networks to lead you to your next job opportunity.


In her poem, “everyone thinks you’re so lazy. don’t let them,” beautiful goddess hard femme poet and activist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna- Samarasinha writes: “our survival is/the opposite of lazy.”

One of the most insidious effects of unemployment in a capitalist society is that we start to doubt our worth if we are not tied to a job. But, like Leah mentions above – we must remember who we are throughout the process. Our daily resilience IS productive and we deserve to celebrate ourselves, employed or not.

Be strategic, be open, reach out for help, and stay positive. Your next opportunity could be right around the corner.

Tiara’s six word memoir is “born with questions in her mouth.” By day, she works as a sassy, affirmation-card-wielding Career Coach. After hours, she is a creative writer, book reviewer (@booknerdspells), and unofficial bubble tea ambassador. Tiara writes angsty fiction and essays about intersectionality, mermaids, reading, spirituality, being queer, and traveling. She hates beets and people who touch her hair.

Tiara has written 16 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. I love this! Thank you for the reminder that we have value and can affirm our worth regardless of whether we work.

    One of my favorite non-capitalist forms of self-care is coloring/doodling/scribbling. I highly recommend it!

    Also, for getting feedback on your resume or getting job search help, libraries sometimes have programs for this type of thing, so that’s another possible resource.

  2. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been slowly working on my value outside capitalist definitions for a few years, as a disabled person. I’m job searching right now and I really needed the reminder that I can ask for help (again).

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