Monday, May 9, 2016

Unemployment Chronicles: Day 5

I'm beginning my first full week of unemployment today (I assume I won't magically have a new job by the end of the week). It's predictably weird.

Things I am struggling with:

Feeling like a failure: Ok, to be fair, I did sorta fail at that last job, but I'm 32. That was 9 months of work. And I didn't really do thing wrong there, it just wasn't a good fit. But I think before this I had the naive notion that I could do anything I put my mind to. I'm an over achiever and I'm reasonably smart and hard working, so it sort of seemed like if I thought I could do something, I would be able to. However... it's ridiculous for me to call myself a failure. I am so much more than this one job. I cannot let this one set-back define who I am. But that's easy to say and hard to internalize.

Letting myself be happy: I have a lot to be happy about in life. I've got big things and small moments that should all be bringing me a lot of joy. This feeling of failure is big. I am disappointed in myself. It's sort of consuming me. And the big problem is that right now, in this mental space, I don't really feel like I deserve to be happy. Which is crap, I know. This morning I was able to go for a walk to get a cup of coffee. I love walking! And the weather was overcast and cool, perfect t-shirt and morning walk weather. I walked through a charming neighborhood and got to get some fresh air. It was really beautiful and a way that I would normally love to spend part of my morning. I had moments of happy while it was happening, but then my brain would interject some conversation that happened at work, somewhere that I failed, and bring my soul back to heartache.

Taking this as an opportunity: I think this is the thing that will be easiest to come to terms with, but today it's still hard. I'm attempting to find the silver linings and bright sides to my situation. One of the benefits to unemployment is that I will finally have the opportunity to do all of the things that I never have time to do now. I can workout! I can cook again. I can organize my mess of a house. I can take donations to goodwill and sell things on craigslist. I can paint my bathroom (been on the list for 5 years)!! I can reconnect with friends! I can write again (on it!). I could take a class in something! I have to focus on finding a job, but I would like to focus on finding the RIGHT job this time, so I shouldn't rush into it, and I'm not emotionally ready to do that immediately anyway. However... the thing that I'm struggling with in this is trying to make sure I do this well. It could be really easy to throw myself into improving my house and become a hermit. I think it would be equally easy to spend so much time focused on my relationships with people that I never really "accomplish" anything and I get to just playing all the time (Ok, maybe not, I would feel like a huge failure I think). Right now I'm standing on the edge of opportunity and I'm worried about the decisions I will make, the balance I will strike. It's Monday at 9:30am and all I've done today is walk to get coffee and write a blog post. Can I even figure out what I want out of life?

Telling my parents: The last time I didn't have a job I was 15. There was one summer in college where I took summer school, but I tried to get a job then and my aunt just paid for my summer instead. So that was more by choice. I realize that I'm a grown adult, with savings that we put aside specifically for the case wherein either I or my husband lost our job, so I'm not asking anything from my parents. But I don't want to tell them. I don't want them to think I'm a failure: see point A.

It will all be ok. I know this. I will eventually figure out what to do with my free time to improve my life, and hopefully in there I will figure out what I want to do for work again. And hopefully it won't take me too long so that my savings will cover this period.

Friday, May 6, 2016

On Identity

Yesterday I lost my job. I wasn't really fired, I didn't exactly get laid off... I just wasn't a good fit.

This didn't come out of no where. For months I've been getting the feedback that I wasn't really performing my job at the job level I was hired at. I wasn't bad exactly, but they expected more out of me and I wasn't delivering. They could tell I was trying, and the stuff I was doing was being done well, but that wasn't enough. So I got let go.  I don't think I was treated badly, so please don't send me comments about how awful my former employer must be. I still want my coworkers and the projects to succeed. This piece of my story didn't end as I would have liked, but I'm trying to make it a peaceful end anyway. 

It's been about 24 hours since I cleaned out my office and handed in my badge. I've cried a lot. I've drank some. I have tried to think about it, and not think about it. Mostly I've just given myself the space to feel. I don't need answers right now, I don't need to plan. I just need to be ok with reacting to this however this reaction comes.

I'm a woman in technology who suffers from imposter syndrome. I constantly feel like I'm not good enough. I've spent basically all of the last 10 years of my career pretty sure I was going to get fired. Now it has actually happened, and for all the reasons I expected.

I am dealing with loss of identity. I am dealing with feelings of inadequacy. My self worth took a hit. I am now standing at the edge of what I use to call my life and realizing there is a big hole in the middle. I think I need to redefine what the meaning is in my life. I am never going to say this was a good thing, but being forced to reevaluate and potentially change the path my life is likely to be something I can look back on in the future as a good curve in the road.

I am fortunate in that I did have savings in case of something like this, and that I have a husband who is still employee and here to support me as I navigate unemployment and what's next. I do realize my privilege here.

This morning I was talking with my 5 year old about what he wanted to give to his friend this weekend for his birthday. We agreed a science kit would be fun. My 5 year old said "Science is my thing! And it's your thing too mommy!" I burst into tears as I realized that may not be true anymore. I couldn't explain to him why I was sad, but I was able to say that it's ok that I am sad and that I'm dealing with some big feelings that will likely be slow to change. I won't be ok tomorrow. I will be ok in the future.