It has been hard to hold my head high doing "nothing." When I was in London, I struggled not to respond "nothing" to the what do you do question that Americans are so fond of asking (and that Londoners who spend a lot of time with Americans have learned to ask). And I struggled to say that I stayed home, or was in between jobs, or that I was figuring it out, without feeling like some kind of flake. It has taken me this time to learn to own it. Sometimes I still struggle with it. I've found that social situations can be much more anxiety-provoking when I don't have a script (I work for Biglaw; it's torture all the time; yes, I was at work until 2 am last night; I went to Berkeley; yes, it's definitely still full of crazy liberals, of which I am one; etc.)
I realize though, that far from doing "nothing," I've done more work in the last six months than probably any other six month period of my life. I've done the work of sifting through who I am when the trappings are stripped away. I've done the work of deciding whether lawyer is a hat I want to wear a little while longer, which required long hours of thinking about what I hated about my old job and what, if anything, I actually liked. I've had to realize that lawyer is a hat, and not an identity. I've worked on learning to have pride in myself and my ability to make hard choices, rather than just being proud of the things I have done or my accomplishments on paper. It doesn't mean this work is done, but it is underway.
My first two tentative forays into the toughest legal job market in history have led nowhere, and now, as I am about to make a third attempt, I have to remember all I learned, and all I am working on, during my six month hiatus. Even if it takes me a while to find and negotiate a job that fits with me and my many quirks, I need to remember that it's okay and to keep doing the work I have started. My job is no longer my anchor in life, the Thing Which Gives Me Stability In The Stormy Sea. I don't really even need an anchor. I can weather the storm just fine.