It's been nearly a year since I applied for my first job, and at that time I had this panic about NEEDing to be BUSY for the sake of maintaining an unbroken line of productivity. I've considered lots of different ways to deal with that anxiety, from terrible jobs to crazy ways to find jobs. Some of it has worked, some of it has made me realize I can't remember why I would go to such great lengths to secure a position that I would loathe so deeply.
It's hard to believe, but I've been looking for work full time for 2 1/2 months now. My attitude about it has changed a lot. I don't feel panicked about finding a job, in part because I don't feel like I am wasting my time. I have occasional contract work, I'm blogging, I've been volunteering and learning a lot. And all that made me realize (and this surprised me a lot), that I LIKE having work to do. I read the Swiss Family Robinson recently, and one of the keys to their (fictional) happiness was that they were able to remain industrious, they didn't suffer from boredom and lack of purpose. Volunteering provided me that; I can't tell you how often my supervisor would tell me, "You are a volunteer, you don't have to work so hard" "You can go home if you like." I know, but it's very liberating to be able to work exactly as much as I like- which ended up being closer to 20 hours a week, instead of the 8 I was scheduled for.
I like to work for the sake of working, and I like to feel like I am making headway, progress or contributing to a greater good. I knew that about myself before. But, I am in a better position, without a job, to get that satisfaction from other parts of my life. Now I am much more willing to accept the money-in-exchange-for-effort type of jobs (ie, contract editing), simply because that doesn't detract anything from my personal life, and in fact, gives me a chance to find more fulfilling ways to seek out those things.
Now I have mixed feelings. I think I am by nature someone who would like an all consuming and gratifying job that I could be passionate about. (This was kind of a disappointment to realize). But I also might be able to accept a job that just provides money if it leaves me the time and energy to find something else to be passionate about.