Tag Archives: unemployment

Letting Go

I hesitate to even write about my unemployment situation again because above everything else, I like to keep things light here. It’s a blog, not a diary.

But it’s also impossible to ignore the stress, the panic attacks and the uncertainty that I deal with every day and that some of you might relate to. Plus, people have asked, so funny next time but an update today.

lettinggo

Imagine being stuck at the bottom of a deep, dark hole with no idea how you’re going to make your way out. There are times you can see the sun up above and feel the rays on your face, but yet you are still down in that hole, surrounded by nothing but darkness on every side.

Friends and family walk by and offer heartfelt advice and encouragement, sometimes throwing a rope down to try and pull you back up. Grateful, you eagerly grab a hold of both the literal and figurative lifeline, only to find that it’s not strong enough and eventually you crash back down.

You try and remember that the next rope that gets thrown your way could be the one that saves you, but not knowing when that might be—or if it will ever show up, for that matter—makes looking up pretty hard.

It’s exhausting.

It’s disheartening.

It’s unemployment.

The thing is, I’m someone who functions best when I’m productive and creative. When I get on a roll—whether it’s just tweets, a blog post or something professionally—I feel great. I feel useful. I feel productive.

One of the biggest frustrations with unemployment—aside from not making money, of course—is that I don’t have anywhere to really focus all of that creative energy. Granted, hours of my day are often spent sending out emails, researching job boards and trying to find something new, but I’m a big fan of instant gratification. Work hard—see results.

Well, it’s been two months and yeah…not so much.

Every time I open my email or see a new posting, my heart lifts before dropping down. There have been several occasions when I was certain that I would be a perfect fit for the job, only to be greeted with a rejection, or even worse, nothing at all. 

This uncertainty is new for me.

I don’t like it.

Even though I know things could be so much worse, I’ll be honest and say there have been some pretty dark days. And as much as I appreciate the support, I find myself uncharacteristically envious of people with jobs or spouses to financially help them out, and I hate that. I find myself wondering if I’m doing something—or everything—wrong, and why just one thing can’t go my way, and I feel selfish.

I feel like I’m fighting a battle on every side. Much like a Saturday afternoon in Walmart, it’s not very attractive. It’s also not very much fun, and a pretty big creativity buzzkill.

And so this is where I add in the “hopeful” part and say there are two ways that all this can go—I can cling to how I want things to be or I can adjust to how things are now. When we cling to things—whatever those things are— we struggle. When we grasp at what we want or think we want, we suffocate it. When we identify with a list of “should,” we always fall short in the end.

So, I’m trying to let go—to some of the doubt, expectations, guilt, attachment to results and the idea that my next path needs to be a straight line.

Some days it’s really hard, but I know the next rope that gets thrown my way could be the one that saves me. Or it could conk me in the head because I was distracted by something shiny down in that hole. But for the most part, I’m more than ready to grab on.

And it starts with letting go.

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Wanted: Professional Chair Model

I won’t get into the depressing part of unemployment at this point—that can be a different post—because today I’m feeling pretty optimistic after finding this ad on our local Craig’s List page.

Yes, I know that I was burned the last time I found the “perfect” job for me—the naked sushi model gig—because I never heard back, but this time around I think I stand a much better chance.

WANTED- PROFESSIONALCHAIR MODEL

 Actual chair picture from the ad. So fancy!

Even though the editor in me was twitchy with the grammatical errors, I’m reprinting it below as it appears to maintain authenticity.

Wanted: Professional or amateur chair model. Successful candidate should be comfortable remaining seated for extended periods of time, while exuding the confidence of one who could handle a store well if need, run a place, give meetings, answer phones, help guests, be a personal assistant, and so on. Would prefer someone who is a verity a place, and has a long job history. Please be one who both does not do bad, and desires to learn a lot. 

Sound like you? Ready to sit down and start a new career today? Contact us right away.*

*Successful candidate should not be allergic to gluten, other allergens, or wasp stings.

While the chair didn’t look quite as comfortable as a chair that I might have picked out, I still decided to throw my hat into the ring. Or rather, my ass into the seat.

Hello!

I came across your ad on Craig’s List while sitting on my couch, which I believe demonstrates my ability to multi-task in that I was both sitting and using a computer simultaneously. While I’m technically still waiting to achieve “professional” chair model status, I do have more than 33 years of experience sitting on couches and chairs.

And not to brag, but I was recently named Couch CEO at Casa de Abby (business cards are in the works.)

At any rate, I exude not just the aroma of garlic, but also the confidence of one who could handle any situation—running a store, answering phones, helping guests—all while sitting in a chair. Seriously. Put me in a chair and prepare to be amazed. In fact, if the position required it I would be willing to also venture into consuming food and beverages while remaining dedicated to the professional posterior positioning.

Speaking of food, I am not allergic to gluten–as you mentioned in the ad–so that shouldn’t be an issue. However, even though I’m not allergic to wasp stings, I don’t particularly enjoy them. Should this be a concern for me in that you’re planning on placing said chair in the middle of wasp-infested environments?

I’m not saying that’s a deal-breaker, but I would require a beekeepers outfit for that. I’m sure that you understand why.

Anyway, I don’t know what “verity a job place is,” but as you request in the end of your ad, I’m someone who “both does not do bad, and desires to learn a lot.” In other words, you’re sitting on a goldmine with me here, my friends! Let’s pull up a chair—ha! See what I did there?—and talk about when we can start.

Thank you so much for your time,

Abby

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A New Definition

About 10 years ago I was in a group therapy session with about eight other women when the doctor had us go around the room and do a seemingly simple exercise: tell the group about ourselves.

Now keep in mind the setting—it was a hospital and not a wine bar—but one by one we went around the room. In the span of 10 minutes I learned among other things that one woman had severe depression, one was bipolar, one was struggling with bulimia and self-harm while another was checked in for a suicide attempt after a brutal sexual assault.

The doctor sat back with this look on her face and was quiet for a minute before she looked around the group and said, “You know what I find interesting? I see something entirely different.

“I know that you are a retired opera singer,” she continued as she shifted her gaze over the group. “That you graduated from dental school with honors, that you are a nationally published writer and that you have three children under the age of five. I don’t see your circumstances. I don’t let them define you.”

That stuck with me, and it seems even more poignant these past few weeks.

It’s been a little bit more than a month now since I lost my job, and I while I’m trying to stay positive and working my butt off to make something happen, I have to admit it’s still a real struggle. I knew I wouldn’t find a new job right away, but I admit I’m not exactly the most patient person in the world and now all I hear is the clock ticking down until my unemployment runs out.

But another thing—along with that panic—is that when I lost my job I also lost a little bit of my identity.

That job was a part of my life for more than seven years. I had a title, I had a routine, I had something that I could attach to myself and use as proof of my professionalism, my hard work, and in some sense even my worth.

While it was far from ideal, at least it was easy to fit in that box.

Now I feel that if f I’m not working in a traditional sense, that makes me lazy. Being as obsessive as I am about things, I feel guilty if I’m not spending all my waking hours scouring the same job boards I’ve been scouring for days or sending out more emails. I dread running into people I know in case they ask what I’ve been up to.

Instead of throwing out the usual, “Just work. Same old, same old,” I have to think about what I can say, fearing they’ll assume my days are filled with hours of lazing around and watching TV. I’m not exactly ashamed, but I am extremely self-conscious.

Because the thing is, I’ve always had a pretty good idea of what would come next. There was a false sense of security that if I did everything I was supposed to be doing that things would continue to go as I planned. Even if it wasn’t that satisfying, at least it was safe and secure.

That would be the universe laughing right now.

unemployment

The lesson has been learned.

It’s natural to identify ourselves using our circumstances, our struggles or how others perceive us. But the problem with latching onto these identities is that in addition to limiting our growth, we start to let them define us.

So on those days when I do wallow, drown my sorrows in hummus and watch four episodes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” because nothing seems to being going in the right direction—yes, there are those days—I have to remind myself that millions of people are in the same boat. That doesn’t mean the boat is sinking—or that I have to want to be in that damn boat—but I don’t have to let this particular struggle define me.

No matter what happens, I’m still a writer.

It might not be wrapped up in a neat little bow and printed on a high-gloss business card right now, but I write. Maybe someone will hire me to do that in the near future, but maybe something else will come along that completely deviates from any picture I had in my head. I’ve learned I can’t always know what comes next. 

Because more than being a writer, I’m human–a funny, slightly freaked out/panicking but trying to cope human–and as I’m reminded again, a constant work in progress.

Now bring on the hummus, my friends. 

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

That’s Where I’ll Be

Six days before Christmas I found myself leaving the house at 7 a.m., not to go join the crowds bustling out to finish their holiday shopping, but to go stand outside in the cold and wait for the unemployment office to open the doors for the second time in three days.

As I made my way inside, I took a number and a seat among the crowd that had already filled up the room. A quick check of the clock showed that almost exactly two weeks ago at that time, I was told that my job of almost eight years wasn’t mine anymore.

And so, there I was, a number among the crowd.

Two weeks ago I would have never envisioned myself in that position, listening to an unemployment office worker address the room like a school teacher, instructing us as to the steps we needed to take, the forms we needed to complete, the frustration we should probably anticipate. I would have never envisioned myself among the crowd I often saw waiting outside as I drove past this building hundreds of times through the years.

Having security ripped from me in one quick sentence —“We’ve decided to go in a different direction” — essentially changed my life forever.

Instead of worrying about editorial deadlines or meetings, I now worried about overly complicated online paperwork, figuring out self-paid health care and sending out emails, resumes and positive vibes to the universe.

While I had previously thought freelance rejection was disheartening, I was now faced with rejection in terms of jobs I felt were a good fit, frustration in not reaching an actual person on the phone, and helplessness and fear that has reduced me, the woman who never cries, to sobbing like a baby more than once or twice.

And so, there I was.

When I looked around that room, I wondered about the stories of everyone else. What brought them to that point?

I wondered if they felt like a burden to those in their lives, despite how supportive they’ve been. I wondered if their hearts leapt into their throats every time the phone rang with possible news, if they got hopeful and then disheartened, motivated and then discouraged. I wondered if they missed the luxury of being stressed out over completely insignificant things like a long morning commute or a boring meeting.

And I wondered if they felt humbled, the way that I most certainly did.

While I’m envious of those not dealing with this, I’m not bitter and no that it could be worse. If nothing else, I’m now forced to realize how so much is out of my control—a feeling we all know that I try and avoid—and to let go of how I think things should be. I’m now forced to reflect and rebuild—a process that’s hard, but that’s also exciting in some ways, as I know my last job just wasn’t for me

It’s that whole, “see a slammed door as a window to new opportunity” hippy-dippy thing. 

Above everything else though, these past few weeks have showed me just how much I need people. I always appreciated those in my life, but this situation has forced me to open up, be vulnerable and let down my guard quite a bit. In doing so, I have been overwhelmed with the kindness bestowed upon me, melting away my cynicism and replacing it with a restored faith in people, in goodness, in hope.

I might have a heavy heart at times, but it’s also a heart filled with gratitude for those in my life—both online and off.

When my number was called I walked up to the desk and looked around that room one last time. As cheesy as it sounds, I hoped everyone else had their own stories to write that would end up okay in the end, that they had people they could talk to when the cloud of uncertainty shrouded the last spark of hope.

Without these people in my life this past month, I don’t know what I would have done. They’ve reminded me that while one sentence changed my life for the worst, one sentence could bring a new start.

It’s time to go in a different direction. 

And then, that’s where I will be.

While I keep things light around here, people are also asking me how things are going so I thought I would just give an update. However, attempts at humor coming next post.  

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5  percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

What I Took When I Left

I’m beginning to think this is just a “Serious Sunday” series here on the blog, as I have something funny for next week, but as predicted, I have a little bit more to say about the things that happened last week

lifequote

First of all, another big thank you for all the overwhelming support. Between that post, Facebook and private messages, I am honestly touched by the hundreds of you who reached out. Because people have asked for an update, I figured a blog post would be the easiest way to reply, so here we go.

This past week has been weird.

Two hours after it happened I shook off the shock and was already on the phone. The whole weekend was spent completely overwhelmed but filled with getting my resume sent out, replying to messages from friends and family and trying to navigate this unfamiliar terrain.

There have been a few moments when I’ve lost it–when filing for unemployment and honestly, most of this past weekend–but other than that, I’ve really yet to wallow.

I’ve kept to a schedule and have honestly been busier than I’ve been in months and haven’t even had much time for “fun” writing or reading. I’m sure that things will settle down soon, I’ll crash and then catch up on “Chopped” while feeding my feelings again.

But through it all, I’m still cautiously calm, a feeling that’s completely foreign to me in situations that are pretty much out of my control. As you know, control and routine are a big thing for me and until this happened, the smallest thing that upset that (pseudo) balance would stress me out.

My days were spent in a bubble of predictability and routine and quite honestly, as unhappy as that place made me, I relished that sense of security. I might not have liked where I was all the time, but at least I knew where I would be—and when I would be there.

The day I left I walked back to my office to gather my things and do you know what I walked out with?

My space heater, a planner full of deadlines—most already met for things that once held practical importance—a bottle of lotion and a pair of old tennis shoes. That’s it. After almost eight years at that place, those were the physical things that I took.

I think that when I realized that, that’s the first moment that I felt relief. I don’t know that I ever really belonged in that environment—in an office, at a desk by myself, playing the corporate game—and I never made it “my home.”

Despite putting forth my best effort every day, it never felt authentic, and along with that space heater, I realized I left there with something even more valuable.

I left with new perspective.

Until this happened, I never knew how many people cared. I never realized how many opportunities are out there. I never let myself think about doing something that I really wanted to do because I was comfortable—not hopeful for the future, but at least comfortable thinking I knew what that future was.

Now I don’t.

With that predictable perspective now shattered, I have to pick up the pieces and create something totally new. I’m still unemployed and freaked out, of course, but I’m also figuring out what it is that I want to do, not just what I thought that I should be doing. I’m trusting that something better can happen if I work my butt off to find it. I’m not stressing the way that I thought I would be an even feel a little bit hopeful.

I would say this is very un-Abby-like, but I don’t know that that would be true. I think this is very un-Abby-like for the person I was for too long. Maybe this is the Abby that I used to be.

Because the biggest thing I took from that job is that sometimes you have to let go—to what you think should be happening, to how you want certain people to be, to that predictable perspective that can dull the spark you have.

I didn’t get to do it on my terms, but this is my reality now. And while it’s scary not knowing here I will end up, I do know that if I’m brave enough to trust myself, to wake the hell up and find what it is that I need to be doing, that reality can be even better than it was before.

Hopefully next week along with some humor my update includes a new job, but if it doesn’t, I have to keep faith.

That’s what I took when I left. 

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.