I rescued this from my other blog.
It's hard not to let what you do for work define you as a person. When you meet someone new, you immediately ask them, "What do you do?" Since I have been unemployed I have had difficulty answering that question, and usually I'll say something like "nothing, right now." This is total crap, however, because even though I am out of work, I do plenty. In fact, I might be doing more things now than when I had a job, so I need to rethink how I define myself.
In our society it is hard not to fall into the trap of jobs defining us as people. We think of ourselves as lawyer, teacher, waiter, administrative assistant, etc. We don't often think of ourselves as writer, volunteer, gardener, or even parent. Jobs are what we spend much of our time doing, but rarely do they really completely define us in every facet of life. It is pretty obvious when we stop to think about it, that we are so much more than our workplace selves. I am still the same guy now that I was a year ago when I had a job, but now I think of myself differently. I was the same me when I was a waiter in college that I was as a teacher.
Try to avoid the trap of using a job to be your source of definition and self worth. If all you are is the job, go out and find something else to engage in. Unemployment offers a unique time to really examine who you are, and what you value about yourself. I'm trying to change my answer to "What do you do?" from "Nothing, right now" to something like "A lot, actually." Because, after all, that's the truth.