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We don’t have a job and we don’t give a damn: The Funemployed

November 20, 2009

I left Australia last December to explore Europe with the intention of travelling and working. With the financial situation, however, the latter has been a bit of a flop. I’ve had one job since arriving in the Old World and that ended in late March/early April. Thankfully, I had emergency funds set aside just in case this might happen. Am I stressed about it? Not particularly… yet. I would like to be working though. Besides the fact that my funds are not going to last much longer, I – and yes, you can call me crazy – miss working. I guess this kinda knocks me out of the new category of people that was born out of this current financial debacle; the funemployed.

The funemployed are people who have been made redundant or who have quit their jobs and are happily living without the stress of their previous 9-5’s. They are exploring hobbies and interests that they never had time to before, they’re oftentimes not looking for work (just yet) and they’re basically revelling in all the unfamiliar freedom and time that the lack of work responsibilities has afforded them. They’re not slackers; they are actively pursuing happiness in some way, shape or form. Their friends and family (especially their families) are generally baffled and often worried by this nonchalance towards their current state of unemployment.

This part I most definitely can relate to. Every week or two, my parent will call and after “how are you?”, the next question is almost always, “have you found a job yet?”. It drives me insane, but I do understand where they’re coming from; the generational differences alone make their bewilderment utterly understandable. Both my parents grew up in rather conservative countries (Switzerland and Singapore) with an amazing work ethic and an unflappable belief that one must work to live. From very modest beginnings, they’ve done well for themselves due largely to their perseverance, hard work, common sense and dedication. It is because of them that I myself have such a strong work ethic and enjoy working and being challenged. What’s different is that I have always, always wanted to work because I enjoy it and not because I must. Sure having a large paycheck is great… but I’d rather not wake up every morning wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else. We only have one life to live!?

The question that’s now prodding at me and glancing down into my pockets is… how? It’s all well and good to say what I’ve said, but passing on a movie night is one thing; living off bread and water would be quite another. So, I’ve started applying for jobs here in Berlin and I’m trying to keep an open mind about this. No one is going to chain me to a desk or shop counter or bar (although the latter doesn’t sound too bad!). In the meantime, I’ve become rather good at bargain-hunting and living a less materialistic life… which goes hand-in-hand quite nicely with trying to be more environmentally friendly.

On the whole, I think this phenomenon is a good thing; over the decades, our societies have become more and more consumerist and, like a dog chasing it’s tail, much too work-focussed. All the long hours and extra stress for jobs that we don’t even enjoy; it’s ridiculous! Not one of my office-bound friends actually works 9-5. It’s 8am-6pm or 8:30am-7pm and those are the shorter days when they don’t have to stay back (not to mention the nights and weekends dedicated to thinking about work). I’m not suggesting that we work less hard, just that we stop for a second and take stock of what and why we do what we do. Seriously. Perhaps it’s time to spend more of our lives living?

For more on the funemployed, click here.

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