This week it will officially be six months since I’ve been out of work. The frustration level is starting to grow. I feel like I have been diligent in looking and have been doing all of the right things, but with negative results.
You have to make decisions on an ongoing basis as to what your priorities are. I’ve been told that my biggest negative to potential employers is my location. Even though I have said I would be willing to commute, and to me the jobs are at a commutable distance (though granted, a life changing distance) employers make assumptions that you can’t do it. I commuted an hour each way for about eight years or so, so it’s not as though I don’t know my tolerance level. It’s frustrating that potential employers are making this decision for me without really knowing me, while I know if I agree to work certain hours I am responsible enough to be there barring an emergency. Shouldn’t all adults be?
I’ve spent a lot of time agonizing over what is most important, location or money. I love living in Statesville. My family is here, amazing friends are here, the culture is rich, the cost of living is reasonable….there is so much to love. For the first time in my life, though, I believe I have to choose money as the priority. Not crazy money…..just close to the level I have been making. I have goals that will be more difficult to reach if I take a major cut in salary. And while I love living here, I’m also usually up for an adventure. One of my friends who is a balloon pilot pointed out that through ballooning I am lucky enough to have friends scattered everywhere. I also have friends I have met along the way who live in places that could be interesting. I’ve always said I could live anywhere and be happy. This may be the time to prove that. Yes, it would bruise my heart, but it would not break it. It may even make it stronger.
I’m not motivated by money. Even now, as I say it is a priority. But this I have learned….many in the world are. Because of this, sometimes when you don’t make it a priority you get seen as the salary grade you settled for, instead of the quality you bring to the table.
There are times when I haven’t fought for my worth, because it seemed wrong to me. And not the priority. Looking back I have some regrets. Not that I haven’t accumulated more stuff or a fatter back account, but because I think in some ways I haven’t lived up to my potential. My business is employee benefits….and this impacts lives. If I had fought for a louder voice at the table, I believe I could have done more that would have positively impacted “the system”. Business decisions should often be made by people who understand what a budget is. Who have lived paycheck to paycheck and even been in debt. Granted I got my finances under control years ago, but I have never forgotten what that felt like and don’t think I ever will. I believe as many people make more money they do.
Some are wondering now where job satisfaction comes in. When it gets down to the work itself, I’ve been happy in every job I have had. I enjoyed working at McDonald’s. I really loved my summer job in Hunt’s shipping department when I was in college. I loved the work in radio stations. I loved impacting the lives of kids when I was a houseparent at the Grandfather Home for Children, my first year after college. And I have loved the work of every single job I have had in the insurance/benefits world. I always looked downstream and saw the lives impacted and that mattered to me. I cared about these people I didn’t know.
I look ahead to the years I have left in the workforce,and I want a voice. Not just for a person here and there (because I was always able to champion individuals in whatever role I had), but I want to be involved in actively making policy decisions that impact people.
I have a background that has put me in places where I see the struggles of everyone involved in benefits….the employee, the Human Resources staff, the insurance company, the providers, even the very government that drives me crazy. I have the ability to see the benefits world as both a business and a place where needs can be met for working people everywhere. These next years are important and I want to help make things better. Therefore I need to be willing to step up and fight for a voice at the table. While many see me as an extrovert, I am a strong introvert. Because of my strong bent for justice, however, I have always been able to be vocal in the workplace. Voices like mine are needed.
This 6-month anniversary of joblessness comes right at the time of my 59th birthday. I promise that I am not going to allow myself to be enveloped by stress. My friend circle has not let me forget to enjoy these days. Their suggestions often come just when I need them. I am heading to a balloon festival in Paris, Texas to hang out with my ballooning friends, staying with one of the strangers I have met along the way who has become a friend. I’ll tell that story soon, because I have never blogged about it, but for now just know that it is a strong reminder that things we deem disasters can turn into rainbows. It’s always good to remember that, but for me, especially now.
Next up in the unemployment world…..I have to file for unemployment, That’s sure to be…..an experience.