What’s another word for “unemployed”?

On April 7, I packed up the things from my desk and headed home for the day. It was my last day of work. I didn’t have another job lined up yet — I was headed home and into unemployment.

I’ve thought a lot about the term “unemployed” since then. Technically, I suppose it’s correct, I am not employed by a company. There’s a certain connotation that comes with the word, though. I’ve found it interesting to explain that while I am “unemployed,” I’m not upset about it — I chose this path. And while I am looking for my next opportunity, I’m not in a rush to jump into something.

Since leaving my job, I’ve also realized just how much of ourselves is tied into our employment. I’ve always attended networking groups in town, but now that I’m not working, the registration process comes with a bit more stress. Nearly every event I’ve signed up for has required me to list my job title and company. Right now, I don’t have those things — but I still feel the event is a place I will find (and can provide) value. In a few cases, I’ve realized those answers will be printed on my name tag. Without an official job title or company to represent, what should my name tag say?

We’ve all read the articles about work-life balance, and how Americans have a hard time separating the two. It’s no surprise then, that we tend to identify ourselves by the job we have (often over the work we do). It’s a bit sad, really. Even though I’m not “employed” right now, I am still contributing. I’ve picked up more volunteer opportunities, joined a few committees and boards — and am in all ways — the same Emily (just minus the job title). Yet every time I register for an event, meetup, or email newsletter, I’m reminded that I’m “missing” an important piece.

It’s been a little over a month since I left my job. In that time, I’ve gained a new perspective. I’ve been that person requiring a job title and company in order to register for events; I’ve asked people “Where do you work?” as a get-to-know-you question; I’ve had my own ideas of what it means to be “unemployed.” I did all of this while making a career out of working with people searching for their perfect career path.

I encourage others to think about this as well. I challenge you to rethink your line of questioning at a networking event, your response to someone who isn’t currently working, and your thoughts about what it means to be “unemployed.”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.