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You’re unemployed: What everyone thinks you do vs. what you actually do

When I first tell people I’ve been made redundant, they give me that sad look, like there’s been a death in the family. They make sympathetic noises and they’re very quick to point out the fact that I might as well take advantage of my enforced holiday. However, it isn’t quite as fun as they seem to think.

There is nothing relaxing about being made redundant. Everyone thinks I’m having a grand-old time, but here’s what’s really going on.

What my friends think I’m doing vs. what I’m actually doing

The celebrations are on hold. My brain knows being made redundant isn’t the same as being fired, but it still feels like I’ve been kicked in the guts. I can’t help but wonder if redundancy is just an excuse to get rid of me. While my friends think I’m celebrating because I was a bit over the job anyway, I’m actually feeling quite flat. I’m not the type to get depressed, but I just want to curl up in a ball and cry — only, it’s not really going to achieve anything, is it?

What my husband thinks I’m doing vs. what I’m actually doing

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not spread out on the couch watching repeats of Dr. Phil. Now that I’m unemployed, I feel like I need to earn my keep through playing housemaid. I hate housework with a passion, but unless the dusting is done and the floor is clean enough to eat off, it’s assumed I’ve spent the day watching daytime TV. Wrong! I’ve been glued to the internet looking for jobs.

Signs you could lose your job >>

What my dad thinks I’m doing vs. what I’m actually doing

“How’s work?” my dad yells down the phone. “Fabulous, couldn’t be better,” I tell him, feeling my nose growing as I speak. I just can’t tell him. Not because I know he’d be disappointed, but because I don’t have the answers for the thousands of questions I know he’s going to ask. I don’t think I can tell him without crying.

How everyone thinks I spend my day vs. how I really spend my day

Everyone imagines me looking out the window, watching the bright winter sun fill the backyard. I’d love to be sitting beside the dog’s paddling pool sipping mocktails, but I am riddled with guilt every time I stop job hunting. What if another job has been posted on the internet? Should I be pacing the streets handing out my CV? What happens if I don’t have a job by the time my money runs out next week? That’s when the sheer panicking kicks in.

What everyone thinks I’m eating vs. what I’m actually eating

No, I’m not lying back feasting on boxes of fancy chocolates; if anything, it’s been a diet of 2-minute noodles and refrigerator gazing. It doesn’t matter how many times I open and close the door, it’s still relatively empty and, even though I know it’s a ridiculous notion, I’ve put myself on rations, just in case next week I can’t afford groceries.

How rich everyone thinks I am vs. how rich I really am

You say you’ve been made redundant and it seems like everyone thinks you’re going to walk away with a huge wad of cash to keep you going until you find another job. The first question I get asked is, “Did you get a big payout?” No, I didn’t. And ,yes, it’s completely legal because I signed an employment contract I didn’t read. I just got my normal pay with a few days leave tacked on.

The fantasy of redundancy doesn’t quite live up to the reality. What’s next, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

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