Jobless – Part 1

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” – Winston Churchill

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John Maxwell

So it’s been about a month since I have been out of work.

While there have been moments of panic….which I know are normal since I have seen others go through this transparently in the past. Since college I have always had a job or knew what my next step would be, so this is a foreign feeling. But so far panic has only come in moments and I can remember my friends who came through it and move on!

From the minute I found they were closing our office and I’d be losing my job, I’ve felt like it was a good thing for me. It was time. I had that ferling of discontented frustration for a while, but I wasn’t doing much about it. I figure God decided to kick me off the ledge and let me free fall for a bit. If you know me at all, you know I have a love/hate relationship with adventure, that usually begins in fear and ends in delight. In the end, the fear usually does not stop me from experiencing the pleasure, I’m determined this will be just another of those times.

Not that I enjoy job hunting. If I liked it, I would have done it sooner. But yet there is an element of it that is useful and refreshing. It’s good to think through the question of what my next steps should be. What did I like best about the jobs I have had in the past? What did I like least? What kind of company do I want to work for? What marketable skills do I have? How do I want to use them? A job consumes a lot of my time – what do I want to spend that time doing?

One of my high school teachers (and friends) emailed me and told me to consider the possibility of doing something entirely new. She listed a slew of possibilities. Hang out with people who keep your vision expanding. It made me think through whether my scope is too narrow. What else is possible? I didn’t hate what I did, and feel that I can use my experience to help people, so the compulsion to change is not strong. But I am not adverse to the possibility either.

I’ve been overwhelmed by other kindness, too. People I have worked with in the past (clients and insurance company reps I had been working with, plus former co-workers from over the years) have called with what I will refer to as words of grace. They have bolstered my confidence at what could be a vulnerable time. They reminded me of my strengths…and gave specific examples. I suspect they have no clue how much they helped. You have to hold on to your confidence in yourself and these words of grace sure do make it easier.

My friends and family have tried to make sure I am using this time well. They have made sure I stay involved in life. They have kept that delicate balance of asking me what was going on, while making sure I don’t obsess over it. One friend who is a local recruiter (though not in my industry) called me as soon as she heard and offered great advice and encouragement. A couple of friends have told me to make sure I begin to schedule my time, so I don’t waste it. OK….that’s not my strong suit. But it has made me mindful of it and I believe I am getting there.

I’ve gotten some great assistance in this process… through the severance package my former employer gave me (which means I have some time with income coming in) and my network of friends and business acquaintances. Others don’t have these luxuries. It could be overwhelming without them.

I was prepared financially. No debt but my house, some money in savings, and plenty of places I can cut back if necessary. A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck or above their means. Some have a weird idea of the definition of necessities and luxuries. You can’t count on a job being there tomorrow. You need a plan if it falls apart. I hope my situation makes someone think “What if this happens to me? Are my finances in order?” and causes them to take action to prepare if necessary.

I’m already thinking through what I can cut out if I don’t find a job quickly. It’s a good exercise really. There are some things I will probably cut out regardless because I realize I just don’t need them. I hadn’t looked at my finances in depth for a while, so I had gotten a bit sloppy in my financial priorities (which I admit are probably different than those of a lot of people. Most don’t consider travel a need that would come at the top of their list, for example.) Reviewing finances and getting them in order..another reason God may have wanted me to freefall off that cliff.

I hope what I learn in this process will be of benefit to others in the future….or even now as we go through it together. It definitely has refreshed my empathy….and that is not a bad thing. I guess my main advice would be….don’t make it a secret. Tell people. You’ll be shocked at who will be there to help and encourage. And who won’t. (Consider this knowledge another gift of the process.)

As with most things in life, we get to choose how we are going to handle it. I plan to enjoy it as much as possible. Why not? I can handle even the worse case scenario. At least all possibilities I have considered so far. I’m sure I’ll think of more before it is all over. I’m creative that way. But so far, so good.

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