Stay-at-Home Dad? No Thanks

I have been unemployed since September 23rd, 2011. I had a great 14-year run with a local media company here in Milwaukee, but even working in the online world didn’t save me from evaporating newspaper revenue.

I spent the first nine years in radio, then spent the last five in the online world. To spare you the details, I was a jack of all trades. I produced, read the news and sold for the radio station. In the online world I wrote, ran a website, project managed, and taught social media — plus shot/edited/produced video, among a million other things. I figured employers would drool at my versatility and hire me in an instant.

285 days have passed and I am still unemployed.

One fascinating development of this whole ordeal has been a rekindled passion for running. I have run every single day since I was let go. I needed something that would help re-affirm — to myself and to potential employers — that I could be determined, dedicated and driven. Losing my job was a punch to the gut; I knew it was coming, but it was still a shot to the ego. How have the past nine months been? In a word, frustrating. But at the same time, eye-opening — just not in the way I had imagined.

You’ve heard the story plenty of times: Guy gets downsized and decides he wants to start his company and work from home. In the back of my mind, I had thought and hoped I would become that guy. I thought I would have been able to generate enough freelance work and be able to just work from home the for the rest of my life. I mean, that’s a dream for a lot of people, right? Who wouldn’t love to be their own boss and not have to commute every day? Lots of people.

But here’s what I learned: I don’t want to be a stay-at-home dad.

It’s not that I think that I’m not capable of doing it. If I had more economic freedom to spend 2-3 years making this a go, I would give it shot. But now is not the time. And here’s another thing: I want to get back to Corporate America. No, really — I do. I like putting on a shirt and tie. I like interacting with co-workers, even the ones that drive me crazy. That social interaction with live human beings is something I miss more than I ever thought I would.

It’s one thing to talk and interact with people via Twitter, Facebook or even the phone. At my old job, there was a steady balance of human interaction, in addition to social media interaction. But after nine months of social media conversations and limited human interaction, I know I want to get back to an office.