The Story of a Year
Before I begin, this is for you. This is the story of the hardest year I've had to date, and I'm blogging about it because I feel you need to hear it. Normally, I don't like delving too deep into my personal life, but I felt the need to tell this story because I'm certain there are those of you who need to read this.
This is for the millenial working at that dead-end job, waking up with feelings of falling short of their own goals every morning. This is for the people who lost their jobs—their careers—and felt like a piece of them was taken away. This is for the people looking for happiness in their careers and realize they were searching in the wrong place the whole time...
This is for you. All of you.
My Worst Fear
Exactly 366 days ago, I was completely oblivious as I walked down the hall to the Human Resources office. Work had been slow lately, but I never managed to add 2+2 together. I came into the office, and they asked me to close the door. I sat down in front of HR's desk, with my immediate supervisor to my left, a redness in his eyes.
"We're letting you go. Your creativity just isn't what we're looking for."
...or something along those lines. Your memory isn't exactly the best when your worst fear happens.
My worst fear. The fear of being let go from a successful job because I wasn't good enough. I loved that job. At first I was in denial, as we sat there talking...and then the tinnitus set in with as much intensity as the shock. I pleaded with them, embarrassingly. There were no answers but only forms to sign. I managed to take some of my stuff and leave without crying. I don't know how I managed to make the drive home safely through heavy traffic and sobs.
One thing I vividly remember is the gentleman who escorted me out with my things. He said something along the lines of, "Look at it this way: It's a blessing in disguise". At the time he said that, I felt like I had been insulted. I did not realize then how right he was.
I don't know how many days I cried. I felt like that job was a part of my identity. I loved it. I wore it like a badge...But it's a tough industry, my field. It's even tougher when you live in a state with a very, very small industry, and an even smaller demand for your expertise. I knew the statistical unlikelihood of finding that kind of job again in that town.
It happened a week before my birthday. We couldn't even afford a cake, much less a celebration. I think my husband managed to make cupcakes though, and put a candle in them.
One of the many reasons I love him.
Those who know me would be quick to say that I'm a determined and driven individual. At the time, failure wasn't an option and yet there I was. A self-perceived failure. So all I had left was drive. I made finding a job, my job. I got up, walked to the park, tried to do yoga or a few laps and walked back to begin another day of job hunting.
Job hunting will drive you mad, especially if you were let go. There were days I couldn't get up. There was one particular day that I felt what only could be described as depression. I tried for hours to convince myself to leave to go for a walk. It was a beautiful spring day, but colors were pale, and scents were dull. My husband came home to his wife enveloped in a blanket, staring listlessly at the wall.
It will drive you mad.
It would be 3 months until I found another job, a much better, more challenging and more fulfilling job. It would be about 5 1/2 months until I discovered the company I used to work for underwent massive employee cuts. I was just the first of many. It made me feel better knowing that my "creativity" wasn't the true reason they let me go, but that mentality is a mistake in and of itself...
There was no way I was going to find a job in my field where we lived. The demand just wasn't there. The industry was so small you practically had to wait until someone died or was fired for a position to open. It was either stay and throw away a 5-year degree and over 7 years of professional experience, or embrace the fact that we needed to move.
Unfortunately, no one tells you how difficult moving is. Before you move, you'll more than likely have family and/or friends that will try and work against you or talk you out of it. I did. Moving is hard, and it changes the relationships you have with the people you care about.
So, in spite of resistance I began looking elsewhere, and elsewhere I found an amazing job. In less than 2 weeks, we found a place to live, downsized from a 2-bedroom to a 1-bedroom, sold the excess, found a better job for my husband and moved. It was the craziest two weeks of my life. Easily more crazy than the wedding.
The hardest part of the move wasn't the move itself. It was the emotional aftermath. I had just moved from my suburban/rural hometown to a metro city where I knew hardly anyone. I moved away from a place I had lived virtually my entire life, from practically every friend I knew. It took its toll.
For a while, I was angry. I was neither kind nor graceful. I felt abandoned, when in reality it was I who abandoned them. Relationships changed, but from the running theme of this blog post, change isn't a bad thing. I got over my anger. I forgave them, and most importantly, forgave myself. I realized everything starts with me—my views on life, my relationships, my feelings—all start with me. I can't blame others for the lack of boundaries I chose to have. I can't blame others for our decision to move, or for not being mind-readers, or for not acting exactly the way I feel they should.
So forgive, and forgave I did. I started forgiving more and expecting less. I stopped being angry and tried to begin repairing the relationships I put so much strain on.
More importantly though, I embraced the unknown—a foreign concept for a strategist. It's OK to not be sure of everything. It's OK to fail, because failure is temporary if you choose so. We are defined by neither our failures nor our successes, which is why we should be humble and forgiving of both. We are more than just our job titles, as our careers are not what define us—but our actions and beliefs.
With a new spring, comes new opportunities. For the first time, I bought a nice bottle of my favorite port. I celebrated the changes and successes that happened over the course of the past 366 days with my closest friends and soulmate.
We celebrated the unknown because it brings opportunity if we overcome our fear of change.
Most importantly, it is faith that carried me through it all. Faith in God, and faith in myself. Faith is being OK with not knowing. Faith is continuing to try in spite of failure.
Have faith in God, yourself and the unknown.