Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughts on Unemployment

I'm currently about six weeks into my unemployment. Its taken  me a while to put my thoughts into words, but the thoughts have been tumbling around my head for a while now, so its time.

In the past, when my friends lost their jobs, I was their cheerleader. The one to tell them they weren't what they did, they were so much more than their jobs. I assured them that something fabulous would come along and that life indeed would go on, culminating into something even better than before.  I truly believed all these things for my friends.

Then, I lost my job. Prior to losing my position, I was uber stressed, not sleeping at night, and most likely developing an ulcer. There were numerous times I was on the verge of panic attacks thinking of how I was going to pay my bills, how I would fill my time, and what it would mean for me to not get up and go to work every day, even though my work place had become less than ideal. I was afraid of what my life would look like unstructured. I was terrified of not having enough money and people judging me because I didn't have a traditional job any longer. I was sort of caught in a fog, not being able to see into the immediate future and it scared me.

My first few weeks of unemployment were filled with figuring it all out. Navigating the waters of the unemployment office, deferring student loans, and intensely searching for a new position. I was really hard on myself, telling myself that I needed a job as soon as possible. It took me longer to believe that thoughts that I had told my friends, that something better would come along, that life would go on, and that things would be ok.

Now? Now I've relaxed and settled into a new normal, a new routine and rhythm for my life in its current season. I am still intensely searching for a new position, but I'm also starting to enjoying this time off. I'm viewing it as a unique opportunity, for someone who has worked in one way or another since I've been 14, its quite the change of pace. I've taken to sitting out in the sun with my dog on sunny afternoons, reading or writing letters to friends or sometimes taking a quick nap. I walk my dog in the mornings, while its still overcast and a bit chilly out. I try new recipes for cooking and baking, ones that I always put aside to try someday. I've toured the Fiesta factory, was able to spend some time with my out of town best friend, and have plans to visit the Strip District in Pittsburgh with my grandpap. I've had to adjust my lifestyle and cancel some plans due to lack of funds, but I'm learning that life does indeed go on and that its really quite good. My bills are getting paid, I'm sleeping again at night, and I'm finding that my life is even more beautiful now that I'm not attached to a job I really disliked.

Releasing the stress and worries of losing my job has been a process, I've needed to be angry and  had to separate myself from my co-workers -- those who lost their jobs along with me and those still employed. I've needed to see how I was going to make it work financially and how I was going to fill my free time. Now that I have, I know that the rest will fall into place when its supposed to. I'm pushing myself to look for positions that would challenge me, I've flirted with the idea that maybe a typical corporate 9-5 isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm enjoying viewing my future as a jigsaw puzzle, where I can see the different pieces but I'm still not quite sure how they all fit together.

There is indeed life after being laid off and I'm currently learning to enjoy it.