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Fireside Topic: How have you handled unemployment?

great depression

Theodore_Roosevelt01“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President, 1858-1919

Cesar Millan, better known as the Dog Whisperer, said that “Every dog needs a job to do.” Most of the dogs that we have as pets today were bred with specific tasks in mind rather than simply having a nice color or being hypoallergenic. When we take these highly skilled animals and stuff them in a house where they have no work to do and are forced to sleep most of the day, strange things are going to happen; they are not living life as they were made to live. I think men are often the same way when it comes to work. We need to work. And, while it can be seriously frustrating to have a body that is made to haul and throw and pound things all day, sit in front of a computer in a small cubicle, it is even worse when we are completely out of a job and nothing is turning up. I would imagine it is different, initially, depending on whether you were fired or just let go, but, eventually, it all settles into the same issue any guy without a job faces…or I believe should face. Some are far too comfortable being out of work.

Some guys don’t mind being out of a job, which I have never quite understood. Many may even look forward to the day that their wife will get a promotion and they can stay home with the kids. I would think this would be so a man could focus on his hobbies more seriously, which I kind of understand, but usually he just ends up being a slob of a man with far too much estrogen circulating through his blood. Which leads me to the question at hand: How do you handle being unemployed? 

Here are some responses that would be common to most men:

  • They become alright with just staying at home – The draw of laziness and irresponsibility catch hold and his uselessness in this world has found a comfortable spot in front of the television.
  • Their self-esteem continues to dwindle – So much of how we see our value is in how we are valuable to others. Without a job or work to do, or a way to contribute to the family, we begin to have an uncharitable view of ourselves.
  • They do whatever service or work they can – There are a lot of guys that just can’t sit around and do nothing so they get busy with whatever they can do: home repair, yard work, service projects, etc.

A friend of mine told me about a scene from Mad Men that really stuck with me even though I didn’t watch the show. Don Draper’s firm placed him on a “sabbatical”, essentially pushing him out of the firm and leaving him without any meaningful work to do. He tells his wife that everything is fine and pretends to go to work every day. When the truth finally comes out and she asks why he didn’t tell her, he says something to effect “It matters to me how you see me.

I think that resonates with a lot of us. When we don’t have work, what are we good for? Have we failed our family? Are we not the man we thought we were?

Share your thoughts with a friend, or in the comments below!

- Fireside Topic articles are interesting topics to get men talking. Find a few friends and throw a question out there and see what develops. Read more here. -

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