What does it mean to be a lady of leisure? A “lady of leisure” is typically defined as “a lady who is of independent means and so does not need employment, one who is free from duties and responsibilities.: Having been a lady of leisure for some time (while I’m not volunteering), let me tell you is not as easy as it seems.
A few friends and I have taken to referring to ourselves as ladies of leisure because, at the moment, we are without full-time, paid employment. At first, it was a funny term, an inside joke between friends but, as time has revealed, being a lady (or man) of leisure in this day and age is not at all what you may think.
For people constantly “on the go,” being a lady of leisure certainly has its appeal. Now you have time to finish that book you always wanted to read or catch up on your favorite t.v. show or clean out the garage. Finally you can finish those projects that you’ve saved for a rainy day that, incidentally, when that rainy day comes you have no desire to do at all. But then, that moment hits. For my ladies of leisure, you know what I’m talking about. The allure has worn off and now you’re wondering “what do I do with myself all day?” Suddenly, 24 hours in a day is a lot of time.
For all of my ladies of leisure, you make the job hunt your new job. You’ve developed a two prong strategy for job hunting. There are the jobs you look for to pay the bills and the elusive full-time job that will jump start your career. Each day, you spend time on the Internet checking out the job boards on professional organizations’ websites, networking through social media (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) or pounding the pavement and dusting off the old address book.
But like that moment hits, you, too, experience another moment. The moment where all of it becomes drudgery and disappointment after disappointment. You become self-reflective and reproachful toward yourself. “Why isn’t anything happening? What’s going on? What am I doing wrong?” First, to all my ladies, STOP. Stop that line of thinking this instance. It’s not you. The situation is outside of your control so why waste useful energy on things, people, and circumstances you have no control over?
It’s in that moment that you have to circle back to that initial feeling of excitement at being a lady of leisure. By that I mean, cultivate hobbies, talents, or experiences that are nurturing to the soul. If there’s something you’ve wanted to try that isn’t too cost-prohibitive go for it.
In my case, I’ve explored the world of volunteering. Finally, I have the chance to explore things within the archives profession that I’m interested in. Work with people I want to work with and collaborate. By doing so, I gain experience that will be far more beneficial in the long run toward my goal of being an archivist and it gets me out of the house. I can not stress it enough the importance for ladies (or men) of leisure to get out of the house. Even if its for a few hours a week. Do it.
Secondly, I’ve started reading again. Somewhere along the way I fell out of reading. I think it had to do with being burnt out from reading in undergrad and graduate school. But then my first professional job landed me in Death Valley. Population less than 100 people or so. I read with a vengenace. I joined a book club. And, now that I’m a lady of leisure I’m reading books that I’ve always wanted to read or explore reading books outside of my typical fare. For instance, although I’m a scifi nerd (in terms of tv shows and movies) I don’t read science fiction. Sometimes it gets too out there and borders on fantasy…but not the good kind that I find interesting.
Also, I’ve gotten back into exercising. I’ve become a runner and I run about 3 times a week now. I run in my neighborhood and during that time I’m not thinking about anything of any importance. When I exercise my mind is focused on the now and what my body is telling me. My mind rarely starts strategizing long range life plans while I run.
And, incidentally, I’ve become a knitter. I’ve felt a build up of restless creative energy but I haven’t felt the desire to write which is what I typically do. Instead, I decided to use my hands to create something different for a change. For less than $20 bucks I’m teaching myself how to knit. At the moment, I’m working on a long scarf. It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment as I watch this project grow into something.
For my ladies (or men) of leisure and my “would-like-to-be-a-person-of-leisure” in order to get rest, I hope you’ve found this post interesting and helpful. In particular for my leisure kids who have become people of leisure because of economic circumstances and are searching for that elusive job or career, hold on. It WILL get better. Explore some healthy, creative habits to nurture creativity and offers a momentary respite from the stress of it all. Because, believe me, I know its stressful but even your brain needs a break.
Be creative my lovelies.