As I write this, it’s been three months since I stopped working.
It feels like both a long and a short time ago.
Before I finished working, I had already made plans for March: learning about job-hunting all over again.
As part of my redundancy package, I had been given six months’ access to courses and other resources at a career management firm. I could have started going to their classes as early as the beginning of February, but I decided to wait until March because:
- I wanted to focus on tying up as many loose ends as possible at work
- it gave me something to do, and look forward to, in March – especially as the last time I had gone for a job interview was just before Christmas 1996, so I had to lot to re-learn
As well, someone else I knew whose job had also been made redundant had told me she’d tried wrapping things up and doing job-hunting classes at the same time, and it was driving her nuts.
So the week after my working life ended, I plunged into three weeks of job-hunting classes. They were very helpful and interesting.
Not surprisingly, most of my classmates were also former colleagues. Most of them I hadn’t known personally, but some of them I had known of and others had worked with people I’d known. There was a lot to talk about.
Soon my weeks of classes came to an end. As they did, I felt a small sense of dread because soon I would be alone and out there looking for work. As well, it had been simply pleasant to be around people during business hours for the first time in ages.
During the last week of March, I also took my first steps in applying for unemployment assistance. I wasn’t expecting much at all from this, but it didn’t hurt to give it a try. Later, it would cause me much anger – but at first, it was only baffling, especially attending a first interview that was barely five minutes long to be told to return for another interview in three months’ time.
The only minor headache during this month was my payout taking longer than expected to arrive – but when it did, I was still excited and stunned by the size of it. Best of all, it meant that money would be the least of my worries for the near future.
Back in February, I had originally planned to start job-hunting in April. During March, though, I changed my mind because I realised that I already had important work for that month: LEGO-building.
Our LEGO Users Group (LUG) had our annual big show in April. This year, not only would I have my own table of exhibits but I would also be making two contributions to our group’s enormous city layout.
Admittedly, LEGO-building would be much more fun than job-hunting – but building My Own Creations (MOCs) can also be stressful in its own way, so once again I decided to focus on one thing at a time. Thus, job-hunting was postponed until May.
And I’m glad that I did. Although it was fun devoting most of my waking hours in April to LEGO-building, there were several false starts, days lost to creative dead-ends and wrong-turns, and one project abandoned completely – so I’m glad that I didn’t give myself added stress with job-hunting at the same time.
Fortunately, as often happens with LEGO-building, there were several “Eureka!” moments when good ideas suddenly arrived and put my builds right. A few days before the show, I had finished everything that I had needed to do, and that was a great relief.
Last year, I had taken a day’s leave for the show’s set-up day. This year, all I had to do was turn up. I arrived at 10am, quickly set up my table…and then wound up staying until almost 10pm helping to complete the group’s city layout. Admittedly, it got quite stressful at times, as it seemed like we would never finish – but one good thing about being unemployed was that I didn’t have any work-related stresses on my mind at the same time.
Best of all, though, my payout money allowed me to enjoy even more being at my own table during the show. During 2014’s show, I had found that a good way to pass the time was to build something at my table – so each morning before arrival, I detoured via a nearby department store and bought a few LEGO sets for MOC-building. Not only did each day’s building give me something interesting to do, but it was also a good conversation-starter with several visitors.
Building at my table aside, once again a big show like this one was great fun overall. As always, when it was over I was sad to see it go but also inspired to keep on building…
…which was very fortunate because shortly after a very interesting opportunity arrived. A Sydney children’s hospital had received a donation of approximately 200 litres of gold-coloured LEGO bricks (I say “approximately 200 litres” because it took about four 50-litre tubs to hold them all). Our LUG was asked if we wanted to build something with these thousands and thousands of bricks to help promote an upcoming telethon; three of us said yes, and soon I found myself lugging home a few thousand of these bricks to try and build something.
A few days later, I lugged these bricks back to the hospital mostly in the form of a large-scale toy freight train (although there were still a lot of bricks left over). My two colleagues also brought along some more creations, and we spent the next few hours building even more LEGO things and arranging their display near the front entrance. It was great fun for a very good cause.
That LEGO-building for the hospital took me into the first week of May, and again I had decided to focus on one thing at a time during that week.
So, it wasn’t until the second week of May that I finally began job-hunting.
But that’s another story for another post.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂