How To Spin Your Unemployment To Your Family Over The Holidays


The period of time known as “the holidays” are notoriously stressful for all humans. Just watch any holiday movie and try to get through it without a Xanax or 12. You just can’t. And obviously our own lives do not tend to end with everyone hugging around a Christmas tree and thanking our lucky stars for our family. Usually, holiday gatherings end in drinking too much and someone crying (in my experience).

One of the most hot-button issues tends to be employment. Since I’m a freelancer, (aka a “modern-day cowboy,” thank you Liz Lemon) sometimes (okay, often) I find myself having to explain that, yes, everything will be okay even though I do not go to an office every weekday and calm down, I WILL work again. So here are some phrases and deflections you should use if this comes up at your holiday obligations.

“I’m in between jobs right now.”

This is a tried and true classic. It works great because you’re not technically lying, and that’s what all great deflections should accomplish – vague, but not technically a lie.

“I’ve got a lot of feelers out.”

Also perfect and vague and also kind of sounds like your some sort of human/bug hybrid which might make your Aunt Myrtle nervous, which is always fun.

“Well, in THIS economy…”

Perfect to use to anyone. It’s vague enough to send your conservative grandpa off on a rant about Obama but also works on anyone who considers themselves “informed” and “in the know” politically.

“Been having a lot of meetings.”

This is one I’ve picked up since living in Los Angeles. A “meeting” is such a vague term it can mean anything. Did you talk to your barista about work? Boom. You had a meeting. Chat up your Lyft driver about a new movie? MEETING! Say hello to your building manager in the lobby? MEETING! It’s that simple.

“Actually _____ is part of my career so…”

I usually fill that blank with “knowing about TV shows.” But you could fill it with anything that your family might not view as “work.” Think of your family as a accountant who’s going to help you get some $$ back in April and explain why everything you do is a write off…of life!

“You know, _____ was unemployed for YEARS!”

The blank here could be Suzy from down the block or some web celebrity you just made up. Doesn’t matter as long as it’s convincing.

“Sometimes you have to work for free to break into it.”

This is when you’re getting desperate. This is the only way to explain your situation and make sure to say that you’re “paying your dues” – that generation lovessss that.

“My friend’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin actually might have an in for me somewhere…”

I think this is true about all of us. So again, it’s technically not a lie. Also, over one of your “meetings” I’m sure someone mentioned a connection like that to you so just tell it to Uncle Fred and be on your merry way.

“Did you notice _____ was kind of rude earlier?”

This is your ripcord! After exhausting all the other lines the only thing you can do is put your family’s attention on someone else. Does your cousin Bill have a super annoying girlfriend? Maybe bring her up to your aunts. Did your younger brother put on a little weight from Thanksgiving? Throw him under the bus! Anything to get the attention off you and your employment situation.

Good luck and keep your chins up, Unemployed 20-Somethings At Family Gatherings, we’ll all get through it.