I wanna bite into a big hunk of cheese, just bite into it like it’s an apple.

“This is gonna be my time. Time to taste the fruits and let the juices drip down my chin. I proclaim this: The Summer of George!” — George Costanza, Seinfeld — The Summer of George, ep. 22 Season 8

I quite honestly never expected I’d ever find myself in this position, but I spent the entire summer, from May to September, unemployed. I spent the first few weeks or so looking for work, because I hadn’t made the decision to go back to school yet. I was so accustomed to working as a legal assistant for nearly seven years that it just made sense to keep looking for jobs in the same field, until the middle of May when my older cat passed away.   I went to the Island a couple of days after it happened to visit my dad and step mom, Pat,  because I needed to get away and not have a constant reminder of what had just happened and then the following week my mom and step dad stayed with me.

Nothing came of the interviews or it wasn’t a situation I was looking for or been told about.  It clued in to me that I didn’t have to keep doing this anymore, so, with my mom here visiting, I made the decision with her sitting on my other couch to apply to go back to school.  It was the first time in a very, very long time I was excited about something and I felt like things were finally going in the right direction. I’d had enough of the circumstances I’d been in and, quite frankly, needed a break to recover from almost seven years of stress and work-related anxiety.  After the way things ended at my last job, I could no longer fathom stepping into a scenario of a similar situation.  I wanted to move forward with my life in a positive manner and I didn’t want to keep flouncing around from one law firm to another just for the sake of it;  I needed a break, I had the opportunity and the resources to do so, so I decided to take it.

It was a weird decision to make because I’d never had that much time off work before, at least not since entering the work field.  I was excited and terrified all at once because it was unfamiliar territory, but I knew it wouldn’t be long term because I’d been accepted into the journalism program, so I had something to look forward to.  It was exciting,  knowing I’d be having an extended period of time off to prepare myself for the next chapter of my life. If I ran into or talked to people I hadn’t in a long time they’d ask what I was doing with myself, or if I was going to work; I felt the judgement, whether it was intentional or not, but I didn’t feel it necessary to explain my choice.  In a roundabout way,  telling people about my decision helped me with not caring what other people think I do, or don’t, and that I am a very capable adult who knows how to make decisions that are best for me. Most of the good people in my life were assuring that this was a wonderful opportunity to ‘find’ myself, I was told that I was ‘on vacation’ and that I deserved this time off and, quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

(I know there’s a lot of people out there wondering why I’m explaining myself after I literally just said I didn’t need to explain my choice for doing this.  I suppose it’s not necessarily explaining my choice, but there’s a lot I’ve learned over the last — oh — four months or so, and I knew awhile back I’d want to write about my summer as it neared its end, so here we are.)

My summer was by no means entirely rosey or peachy keen, but it was a massive learning curve in so many aspects of my life that I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to realise under any other circumstance.  It was hard being broke and living on a much tighter budget than I was used to, but it taught me how to be better with money because I had no choice. I had to be creative with my time and what I did with myself because I couldn’t afford to go out a lot.  Friends would occasionally take me out but it was nothing I ever asked them to do because me being unemployed was a choice I made. (To my friends who took me out, I know I’ve expressed my appreciation, but thank you for doing that on occasion. I owe you, when I’m not a broke-ass student.)

I was spending a lot of time with myself during the days, obviously, while everyone was at work, but it allowed me to go and do more writing, go for walks down to my favourite places and read.  I spent more time thinking than I did speaking, but that’s okay, because I thought about the kind of person I want to be and the kind of people I want in my life. My summer taught me a lot of things about myself: it taught me to turn a negative situation into a positive situation and that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do; it taught me to evaluate the things and people that are important to me, and the ones that aren’t; it taught me what I am deserving of — whether it’s work-related, friendships, relationships or otherwise — and I’m very grateful for that, and the people who have supported every decision I’ve made over the last four months.

I’m proud of myself for taking a chance by doing this. It’s made me stronger and more confident and it couldn’t come at a better time as I embark on the next chapter of my life.

(It’s about damn time.)

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Author: Jocelyn Aspa

early 30-something. journalist. sports fan. puns. cats. mental health advocate. not taking myself seriously (most of the time)

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