Friday, February 12, 2010

The Unemployed Life...

“For many people a job is more than an income - it’s an important part of who we are.  So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life.”  ~Paul Clithero

This quote pretty much summarizes how I've felt for the past several months.  With all the talk of the rising unemployment rate, budget shortfalls and lack of jobs, for some reason, I believed that it would not impact me.  I felt pretty secure in my job and didn't give much thought to the possibility of joining the ranks of the unemployed.

So imagine my surprise in late October, when my shoulder was tapped and I was led into an meeting room with HR and my supervisors.  I expected to hear that I could be impacted by the layoffs that were happening at my agency.  I never expected to be handed a letter stating effective 1/2/2010 I would no longer have a job.  My services were no longer needed.

The feelings that existed for me were shock, anger, sadness, denial and frustration.  As the quote stated job was more than was a huge part of who I am.  I loved my work...maybe not where I worked...but I loved the work itself.

The worst part was that for the next two months I had to continue to show up for work...knowing that I was not considered essential to the agency.  I could be discarded.  My work could be put into little parcels for other people to do...people that had no idea about the work I did.  I was asked for my opinion on who could pick up my assignments.  Of course, I knew that my opinion didn't really count.  They had already made these decisions before they eliminated my position.  Pure torture.

The most difficult part to handle was knowing that certain people within my agency were able to keep their jobs, even though they are not the most competent to do so.  It appeared that relationships played a bigger role in your job security than quality of work.  Disappointing to say the least.

I really thought these last two months of working would be the most difficult part of the process.  I wanted those two months to go by so quickly so I didn't have to show up, sit in my cubicle and pretend that I was going to be fine.  Really, how many times can people ask you "how are you doing?"  How do you think I was doing?  I've lost my job.  But I kept trying to focus on how great things would be once I didn't have to go to work anymore at a place that didn't value or appreciate me.  I would have time to myself...I couldn't wait.

I think I was wrong.  I think it has been harder to actually be unemployed.  It didn't sink in right away.  The first week or so felt like I was still on vacation from the holidays.  And then I had school to focus on for a few days.  The second week wasn't too rough either.  I made plans for a trip to visit good friends out of town...I can't do that when you have a job.  It felt a bit free to do whatever I wanted to do.  No restrictions.  No rush to find work right away.

Then I came home from my trip.  And all of a got harder.  For some reason, I didn't want to go home from my trip.  I think I was avoiding my new reality....the one where I didn't have a job.  But you can only avoid it for so long.   

As each day blends into the next...and nothing really can't ignore the reality anymore.

I feel like I have lost my purpose.  I have no reason to get up in the morning.  Now we need to not confuse this feeling with not wanting to live.  That is not what I am feeling.  I am just missing my purpose.  My job/career has been the main way I defined myself as a person.  And without that in my life...I've been a bit lost.  Who am I?

Being unemployed...I have no sense of time.  I sometimes can't fall asleep until 6 a.m. and then I sleep until 3 p.m.  So my internal clock is a mess.  I don't know what day of the week it is most days.  Even countless hours online or watching TV doesn't seem to help.  There doesn't seem to be a point in getting dressed out of pj's or showering every day.  It has been hard to establish structure in my days.

I also have been isolating a bit, especially from my work friends.  I miss seeing them everyday.  I miss venting at lunch about work, walking to get coffee or just laughing over the day's Dilbert cartoon.  So I have been keeping a bit of distance because it reminds me of what I have lost.  And the truth is...everyone else's life didn't change when mine did.  For some reason, I haven't wanted to listen to people talk about their lives.  Reminds me what I miss in mine.

Surprisingly during this whole process, I have not been worried about money at all.  Unemployment covers my mortgage and a few other essentials.  And I have enough set aside to cover the rest.  Anyone else that wants money from me...can wait.  So not stressed about money.  For some reason I trust that it will be taken care of.

Although it may seem I'm all down in the dumps...I do trust that this whole situation will work out. I know  I will find another job.  The question is what kind of work do I really want to do.  How do I want to make my mark on the world?  What would bring me joy?  So this time alone has made me start to reflect on this question.  More on this another day.

So for now...I have to work through the grief, loss, anger and frustration of losing my job and focus on the opportunities to come.  I am trusting what is coming next will be amazing.


  1. Kris,
    You're an amazing, beautiful, and talented person. Once you decide where you're going and what you want to do, nothing will stop you! Come visit again for a can only help! We love you!

  2. Great post, good luck with all your endeavours!