with Avi Spivack
Hi, I'm Avi, and I try to put the work and the dad together, with mild success. This is all about trying to give you a view from what it looks like on the dad-man's side of the world, and I hope you find my ruminations humorous because I try not to take myself too seriously.
Unemployment leaves you with time for ruminating, self-reflection (and doubt), and it tests your personal resolve.
I keep linking to the NY Times’ Well blog because their posts continue to be pertinent; most recently, “The Isolation of Unemployment.”
But while the original post itself was timely, what struck me - as so often happens - was one of the comments, which I will quote here:
“Men need to learn to develop an inner life. Most women who find themselves unemployed marvel at how much they get done that they can’t do when employed. Learn to be alone with yourself. It is amazing what you will learn.”
Whoa. So this hit me hard.
First off, what a blatant generalization about the sexes. And second, is it actually true - do I not have an “inner life?”
I will say that this experience of unemployment is one that I hope never to repeat again - to be out of work when I need to be working is just plain bad, and I cannot see how women would be able to get more done while unemployed. I basically spend all of my time trying to find another job - doesn’t everyone do the same?
But this differentiation of the sexes bothers me; I tend to believe that how someone deals with periods of stress (and loneliness) is not necessarily related to their gender, rather their makeup as a human and their ability to mentally “weather the storm.” Are men less “strong” in this regard - and in this particular period of stress - because we define ourselves with our jobs and without them we feel vacant? I don’t really think so.
For me, it is a new and odd and scary existence - because it is so unfamiliar: I have never before been without a job, so I have needed to learn how to adapt, but I don’t think my struggles can be tied to my lack of some sort of “inner life.” But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps you women are better equipped to deal with unemployment and loneliness and other life challenges better than us because you are more emotionally in-tune.
All I know is that I do miss the daily interaction and - as many other commenters suggest - I try to ensure that I schedule calls and meetings everyday, so that I don’t find myself slipping into a mental place from which it will be more difficult to escape. And that seems to be a universal theme, not a male one: we all need human interaction, and work frequently brings us that daily dose, even if it is often wrought with another kind of stress.
Above all, I’ve certainly gained a new perspective on employment as well as learned how I cope with stress - not too well (though in these times, it’s certainly tough to fight back the stress).
I continue to wonder, though, about that comment, and whether there is a kernel of truth to the notion that us men have not evolved inner lives and might we be afraid of what we find if we chose to look a little deeper to find there’s not much there?
I am VERY curious to hear your thoughts on this, so please, sound off!
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