It has begun.
Today was my last day as a full-time employee. That is, until I get another job in Boise.
I said goodbye to my colleagues (though I’ll still be freelancing), and to Leesburg, VA, my second home for the past year. While I won’t miss the hour long commute, I will miss this adorable town.
How do I feel about all of this?
There’s something I need to explain.
The prospect of leaving my job is exciting and exhilarating. Sure, I’m looking forward to finding a new position in Boise and where this new opportunity will take me. And yes, it will be nice to have the next few weeks to wrap up life in DC and pack all our belongings away.
But I hate being unemployed.
It scares me.
I’ve held a job since I was a Cheddar’s Restaurant hostess in high school (best Texas Cheese Fries ever).
Since then, I’ve moved from city to city, job to job, opportunity to opportunity.
I believe that every position I’ve held has made me the employee and the person that I am today. My resume doesn’t only demonstrate my capabilities, but it’s a map showing where I’ve been.
The last two jobs I have held were more than just a paycheck, rather they were an opportunity to claw and drag myself out of a deep feeling of inadequacy.
It was a little over two years ago that I found myself on the wrong side of the table. I was facing my boss who was informing me that budget cuts needed to be made, and my salary was one item that needed trimming. I don’t remember the exact conversation, just the feeling as if someone had ripped the floor from right underneath me.
I do remember managing to make my way out of the office, sitting on the grass behind the Watergate, and sobbing my eyes out while I called my parents to inform them that their daughter was jobless and living in one of the most expensive cities in the country.
I’m not telling you this so that you feel sorry for me. I’m not telling you this so that you understand why I dislike being unemployed, even if it’s my own choice. This unemployment is my own choice (I could have refused to move to Idaho, after all), but I still find myself slipping back into anxiety and uncertainty. What if I don’t find a new job? What if no one thinks I’m worth hiring? Then I bring myself back to reality and remind myself that no matter what, I’ll be ok.
I’m telling you this– because if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I want you to know that you aren’t alone and that you also will be ok.
Perhaps it’s not a job. Perhaps it’s something else that occurred that has changed your life as you knew it.
I tried to be so strong after being laid off. I felt useless. All I ever wanted to be was a journalist, and suddenly, that was gone. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or what to do. A group of people had gotten together and somehow decided that of all those employed, I wasn’t worthy.
Or, at least that’s how I felt. Now I know that job cuts happen, you get laid off, you wonder how you’ll pay your rent, you struggle at Christmas parties to tell people that you “used to be a journalist,” and you search for a new identity that isn’t wrapped up in your career. You lose friends because they can’t understand the pain that you’re feeling. You have to remind yourself, over and over again, that you are good and you are worthy and you are deserving.
I’ve tried several times to write about the depression that I found myself in once I lost my job. But I found myself hitting this wall that made me wonder if writing about this would make me appear weak, or less desirable to future employers.
I also know I can’t do this subject justice. I’m not an expert, only someone who has experienced.
But I don’t care. Because right now, I’m writing for those people who are facing an uncertain future. Every time a newspaper folds or a large company lays off hundreds of people, you see articles about how the future of journalism is dying, or companies needing to reinvent themselves. You don’t see the thousand word articles about the people who now have to explain to their families and friends what happened. You don’t read about the kids who will overhear their parents worrying about paying the bills, and then go to sleep that night with a new fear born inside of them.
Perhaps if we did put a human face on the front page of the story, then others would know they aren’t alone. That they aren’t the only ones who have lost a job and been made to feel undeserving
What helped the most during my unemployment was when I told a friend that I was very depressed about being laid off. She told me that was normal. The affirmation that my feelings were valid was the turning moment for me. Suddenly, I didn’t need to fein strength. My feelings were valid and normal, and knowing this gave me the ability to find my way out of that depression.
I’m here to do for you what my friend did for me. I’m here to tell you that your feelings are valid and you are allowed to feel them. Perhaps you haven’t lost your job, maybe it’s some other major life change or life in general that has you feeling this way, that’s fine. You are fine.
Feel the way that you feel, accept it, and then try to move on. By acknowledging your feelings, rather than attempting to hide or feel ashamed of them, I promise that you’ll feel better.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask family, friends, a doctor, or anyone else for help. Talk to someone that you trust and respect. If they try to diminish your feelings or explain them away, then find someone else. If you’re that person that is being confided in, then try to keep an open mind and provide less advice, and more love.
Life changes are hard. I know this from past and present experiences. The future may seem dark, but I promise, you can always find light. Life may feel like it’s over, but this is really just the chance to begin anew.
Last but not least, if you’re questioning your career as a whole, this comic helped me and I hope it’ll help you. This is why my most current question is: “What will I do with my new life?”