Unemployment 101: #AllCoinsMatter. Day 1 of ______.
I have a confession. I don’t have a job.
Don’t worry, I still get my bills paid and always have food on my table.
I just don’t have a job.
Every time I say that out loud there is a collective swoon of concern because as I’m sure you know, you’re not shit without a job.
Fortunately, for my own sanity, I totally disagree.
Let me explain.
I should start by saying technically, I am a nutrition scientist. Over the years, I’ve done research on micronutrient deficiencies, health economics, agriculture, obesity and healthy disparities for marginalized communities while also coaching women on their dietary needs, weight loss issues and overall health journey.
I’m a nerd so, academia, science and research were amazing for me and made sense. As self-proclaimed overachiever I look for challenges and it was exactly that — a constant battle of feeling like the dumbest, smart person you ever met. Something only others in the field or on that journey would understand. BUT I was always left wanting to do more. What’s seldom discussed is that when it comes to research every thing ever written, discussed, and published is “inconclusive”.
What does that mean?
It means you spend your time buried in literature, then numbers and stats then discussions to end with a massive text/novel/lifestory stating “these are my recommendations, but I’m not 100% and these are the reasons you can’t trust me, so I don’t know”. Which is cool because whose ever really 100% about anything? The thing that got to me was the limitations in what we were able to do with the little bit that we did know. As with most academic oriented ventures funding is limited because research specific to helping people doesn’t support big business and consequently makes zero dollars. So I got bored rather quickly.
When I was able to take my talents to consumer driven markets, I had to do it. I opted for startups because I kept hearing about the “many hats” you wear, growth opportunities, and overall hands on approach. I bounced around working on food-driven startups, working to democratize the experience of healthy food for everyone. In the midst of all the movement, I fell in love with combining my research skills, health, nutrition, and knowledge of “the people” to create bomb experiences that made healthy living easier — essentially I fell in love with product development and became a developer. (Not to be confused with tech based developers, coding and building apps and sites I became a developer of physical products in the health and beauty world, think food, drinks, skincare, hair products etc.)
Until last October. When 75% of us were laid off from my last startup gig without warning, on the brink of holiday season, when business is slow, budgets are tight, and nobody is hiring….
So I did what any self-respecting financially f*cked individual would do, filed for unemployment and got my job hunt on the roll. Every day I searched for jobs but as time passed, searching felt less urgent. It probably had something to do with the fact that despite getting hella bites from potential employers, I was never really excited about working with them. But even more so, I was LIVINGGGGGG. Waking up when I wanted, shopping when y’all were at work, working on my passion projects, day drinking on Tuesdays, play dates with my work mom turned full-time traveling yogi and all in all living my best life.
Until, I went home for the holidays.
See, I was always the daughter, sister, cousin, niece, grandchild MADE for medical school. Always been smart will always be smart so I left home with every intention to come back with that M.D. in hand. So naturally folks want to follow up on Nic’s ambitious, med school dreams. Now it’s been a solid 5 years since we moved on to other pursuits so the inquiries are familiar. I’m never concerned, surprised or even remotely moved when I see the lights of excitement dim when I express my choice to pivot away from medicine, partially because I can forever pull out that “but I have a master’s degree doe” card.
Except this time around, I came home without a “real” job. You know a 9–5. I actually came home and decided to be candid, I was laid off, doing some nutrition consulting (a passion project and side hustle I’d been doing since grad school) and figuring things out. I’m lucky to have parents who know “Nic’s got this”. Most everyone else gave me a look of pity and some encouraging words and let me be on my merry way.
However, one particular asshole in my family had me and the whole game f*cked up. Homie is three years my junior, lives at home, no school, was working at a chicken place and laughed in my face when he heard the news. No, not laughed, he cackled. It genuinely tickled him I had no job because obviously he was out here shitting on me frying chicken. (Yes, that was shade, sarcasm and the middle finger if you were confused.)
Needless to say, I was butt hurt.
It felt like a new low. How did this happen to me? I couldn’t even muster the words to come for his life because well somebody has to work at the chicken shack so that’s a low blow and #AllCoinsMatter when adulting is life and bills are pending. So get it how you live, right?
So I chose to say nothing.
Nothing because I am not and never have and never will be my job.
Nothing because I knew days spent at the chicken shack were not his hearts desire, passion, or the highlight of his day.
Nothing because to be honest, being jobless was the most freeing thing I’d experienced in the long succession of doing what I was “supposed to do”.
Now, as I said before #AllCoinsMatter so we aren’t going down a kumbaya rabbit hole of “do what you love”, peace and blessings.
So how do you bring together coins, no job and freedom?
By doing the work.
Yes, by doing the f*cking work.
See part of the reason I felt free the day chicken boy came for my life was because I was still out here working was what he didn’t know. What he didn’t know is I didn’t go into detail because to be a hundred with you most people can’t comprehend, fathom or appreciate working beyond a job.
So what I left out was that I didn’t have a job but I had some nutrition clients: some working to gain weight, others to lose weight, all looking to love up on themselves right and that those same clients kept pushing me to create more offerings for more women. What I left out was that one of my best friends brought me on as Vice President of Product Development of her booming beauty brand because she believed I could take her vision and create an experience her community would love. What I left out was that I was consulting a corporate wellness company on expansion and product strategy to further assist their Fortune 500 clients. What I left out was I was working to get my real estate license. What I left out was two of my favorite past times — creating jewelry and playing with crystals — had turned into another form of income making custom hand-crafted waistbeads.
Essentially what his ass didn’t know was that I didn’t need a job because I had my work. That everything I was touching had meaning to me and inspired me to continue moving in that fashion.
And with that realization, I went even harder. I said no to full on “secure” opportunities because I wasn’t called to it. I didn’t leave my house for days on end (minus gym time) because I was creating materials my nutrition clients could use. I enrolled in several online courses to get better at my craft(s). I asked the people I trusted for candid feedback and a safe space to just be real about my failings.
And it was worth it.
And no, I’m NOT saying:
- Jobs are terrible
- Choose your millennial privilege (or human right) to be “irresponsible”
- Be lazy
- Entrepreneurship is the way
- Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life
What I’m saying is it’s never been about the job but always about the work. It’s never been about having the job that finally give you an out from work because as humans when we are truly inspired all we can do is make it shake and get to it. Roll your eyes if you want to but Oprah, Beyoncé, Mark Cuban and crew don’t have jobs and continue to work when we all know financially they are straight for life.
So I’m following them. Fuck a job, I’m here for the inspired work.