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A Salute to Sweatpants, Severance & Soul Searching

Guest post by Marc Garbarini

Being “under-employed” can be a defining moment in one’s career, one that most people would probably rather not have the pleasure of experiencing.  Being under-employed could mean you have work but you’re just not working, you’re busy but not in the business, there’s income but it comes and goes. Even if the pay is steady –  ie: severance, and the bills are getting paid, your days are just not the same. There’s a deep sense of being unfulfilled, unplugged, and in general, impotent.

So what does one do while stuck in this professional limbo?

It being winter in the Northeast I decided to seek comfort in layering. Sweatpants, waffle tees, hoodies, knit beanies, tube socks – my fashion style became my armor and my quest was the search for my own kind – the mystical tribe of the under-employed.

Eventually, and quite easily, I found them, right here on LinkedIn.

In countless posts on the subject of their current status the under-employed were a fountain of self-help wisdom. A mindset that strongly recommends career re-invention, guided meditation, and the creation of an inspiring home-based routine. They espoused personal growth, pet projects, adult ed classes, and copious amounts of quality time with friends and family.

The under-employed were just trying to help.

So I followed some of their suggestions. I read an epic tome, insulated my attic, reconnected with old friends, I did lunch, went on adventures with my 10 year old and walked my dog so much he lost 5 pounds. Did any of it make me better? Am I more “comfortable”with me just being me? Maybe a little bit, but if I’m being honest, no.

Actually, Hell No!

What this time away from doing what I do has done, is to make me love – LOVE what I do even more, and to accept it as part of who I am deep down inside. Does this mean I love my paycheck more than my family, of course not, but that’s only because my “job” is more than my direct deposits. When I’m in my role I’m usually building a team, a family, I’m pushing talented people to take risks, to give it their all, there’s a lot of heart and emotion involved and it allows me to walk the halls of life with a smile on my face. Campaign launch, client challenges, human drama, I do my best to work through it all and come through the door at night feeling like I’ve earned it – my family, my home, this life.

And yes, I know my under-employed bretheren feel this intimately as well, but I just folded up my sweatpants for the season and thought I’d say it out loud for all of us – it’s okay to like work, maybe even love it.

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