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I remember hearing this term and thinking to myself, what exactly could be fun about unemployment?  Reading through article and studies online of how the nation’s unemployment rate has affected the mental, physical, and emotional health of individuals, and experiencing it firsthand, can make it difficult to move beyond the negatives and view the positives of the situation.

However, fun and work are not usually words that go hand-in-hand.  In fact, fun is usually what happens after work or on weekends when you no longer have any work to do and can relax and enjoy yourself with a night out or a low-key night in.  Therefore, the term funemployment should make sense, for if fun comes after work, then fun should also come with no work, right?  But what exactly is funemployment?

Urban Dictionary Definition #1: “A happy time in one’s life when one is not employed and is not wanting to be employed.”

First, let’s take a look at that sentence.  Perhaps the reason one is not employed is because one does not know how to write grammatically.  Aside from the grammatical issues, why would you not want to be employed?

Well, an early retirement seems like a good example.  Of course you have to work very hard, often coupled with long hours, in order to retire at an early age.  Students are also generally happy focusing on their studies and putting off their entrance into the workforce.

Urban Dictionary Definition #2: “The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life.”

Time of your life, huh?  I guess I missed that memo.  Well I can’t exactly say that I have been having the time of my life, but I will admit that unemployment has given me time to do things I would not have been able to do with a full-time job.  Here are a few examples:

• Reading books for pleasure.  I have read a record number of fiction novels since the summer and I have been able to really enjoy them.

• Drinking coffee and other forms of yummy caffeinated beverages because I like them and not because I need them.

• Catching up on great TV shows I missed while in college.  Not to mention watching the new additions this year.  I think everyone knows what I’m talking about…Glee!

• Learning new hobbies, such as teaching myself how to play the guitar.

• Seeing movies when they come out in theatres instead of when they come out on TV.

Funemployment photo

No longer Alvin and the Chipmunks, now it’s Deborah and the Chipmunks

• Sleeping in and enjoying it instead of waking up in a panic, throwing on some clothes and heading out to drive, or more likely sit, through rush hour traffic.

• Volunteering without feeling like I am stretching myself too thin.  My current volunteer project is tax preparation for the Center for Economic Progress.

Since the other definitions don’t apply, I won’t list them here, but clearly unemployment does not have to be all doom and gloom.

There was a time in my life when everything was about work and getting ahead.  Socializing took a backseat to long days and nights filled with projects and deadlines.  I didn’t really have a good balance between doing work and having fun.  The theory behind funemployment seems to be getting a semblance of your life back.  Realizing there is more to life than work.

As Amanda Rounsaville questions in an L.A. Times article about funemployment, “Do we work to live or do we live to work?”

It’s kind of like that fickle feeling students have during break.  You come home so happy that the semester is over and you can relax without worrying about work and deadlines.  After a couple of weeks, though, you go out of your mind from the boredom of having nothing to do.  So it looks like I not only work to live, but live to work as well.

Although I enjoy the freedom of funemployment, I miss the hectic, over-scheduled, challenging days of employment.  I suppose we always want what we don’t have.

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