Lately I somehow stopped being aware of how long I've been unemployed. But I thought about this yesterday and was rather surprised to realize that it's been over five months since I got laid off. I gave myself a break right after I got laid off, so it's really been about four months since I started working on my unemployed situation at the beginning of this year. But still! I honestly did not expect to be unemployed this long. I thought I'd have another job within a few month - at most. I mean, it only took me a little over a month to find another job last time I got laid off after the 9.11. event.
It's not that I still have the same expectations and intentions. And I definitely don't consider the past few months unproductive. In fact, a lot happened during this time and I'm surprised just how my perceptions have changed.
Which lead me to think about time. More specifically, the impact of cumulative time.
Time does a number of things. I couldn't have believed that I'd be OK without having a regular job for such a long time when I was employed. And for a while after I got laid off, I was subconsciously tracking time, fearing how long more I'd be OK. But now? I realize that the sky doesn't fall and I'm fine with my current situation. I never expected that I'd feel this way. Sure I've done a lot of thinking and stuff, but this gradual change couldn't have happened without time doing whatever it does to people.
The way I was measuring my life has also changed drastically. It used to be based on tangible outputs: How many reports and presentations did I produce this month? How many to-do's did I accomplish today? But overtime, I noticed myself looking at more intangible progress: Is my translation skill improving? Am I in better health? Am I feeling happier? This, too, I think, is time's doing. Time somehow makes me look inward, I guess.
All these gradual changes had to take time to evolve: I couldn't have reached where I am now without actually spending several months being jobless. So if I had gotten a job earlier, I'd have stopped this evolving process at that time to go off a completely different path. It almost feels as if I've escaped a parallel life that I probably didn't want.
I wonder if others are going through anything similar to my experience. The last unemployment stats that I heard said something like over 5 million or over 40% of all unemployed people in the States have been unemployed for 15 weeks or over. That's a very large number of people to be getting the "time treatment" at the same time. I wonder how our society might change because of it. I somehow feel that it'll have a positive impact.