I don’t know what I am doing. Or rather, I’m not sure what I want to do, with my life. By mid summer I’d lost my job of twenty years to Covid-19. It was, despite the craziness of 2020, a shock to me. Blindsided, I went through stages of something akin to grief. I was angry. I felt betrayed. It wasn’t right the way it was handled, or decided, by upper management – all while leading us to believe that our jobs remained stable and were secure. We were “doing great” staying on task, continuing to evolve to meet our mission in new and worthwhile ways … but the rug was yanked out from under. It must have been made of the wool that had been covering our eyes. I experienced sadness and disbelief, along with a depressing acceptance that my life’s work was gone. Done. And no longer needed me.
Eventually, I began to grow into my new role at home, slowly. Inside, it’s what I’ve always wanted. Time to care for our home and family. To develop better skills at coping – budgeting, learning more about managing our finances, decluttering, spending more time cooking from scratch, gardening, and finding ways to stretch our dollars and save money. The truth? I love it. I don’t want to go back to work. I really don’t. But I’m going to need to at some point. And it’s really scary.
I don’t see myself starting a whole new career at my age. Nor do I feel that I have it in me right now. I still carry strong feelings of betrayal and I don’t think I can dedicate myself so fully to something in that way again. I’ve been burned. Seared. Charred. Receive unemployment compensation for a few months and get back out there! No severance pay, no twenty-year celebration that was being planned as the pandemic struck, instead – here’s your coat and hat and a swift kick to the curb.
My heart is broken for the work to which I’d dedicated my life. For the hundreds of thousands of kids to which my tireless efforts brought hope. Opportunities that I, myself, never had as a child. The inspiration, joy, escape and hope… now lost to a generation of kids that would have been able to see a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel.
But, I must now decide what it is that I want to do. It’s a clean slate. I likely won’t have another opportunity in my life to step into a roll that I always wished I’d tried. The path I didn’t take but always wondered about. Maybe a chance to turn a passion into a paycheck… But it’s not easy. And it’s definitely not simple.
Instead it seems to me that when you are working and thinking of a change, the world tells you: It’s never too late to make a change! You can do anything you set your mind to! It’s your chance to do what you’ve always been passionate about! Go big! Think outside the box! But when reality hits and you are out of the workforce it’s: You have to be realistic. “Those” types of jobs are very limited. What have you already done and what skills do you have? You can’t do that – you’re not educated for it and need a degree. They want to see what experience you already have… (ie: stick with what you already know and only bother going for the same type of work you’ve been in your whole life.)
Where’s the encouragement? Where’s the enthusiasm? Can I get a little support here to dream about what could be possible?
I’m not useless. In fact, I may be the most loyal employee you’ve ever had. I can learn if I don’t already know something, and if it’s my passion? You’d better believe I will put my all into it and you will get your money’s worth and then some. Do I come with a set of skills? Yes, skills that are translatable and can be used in more than one type of application. I’ve honed them, learned new ones, and developed strong character. I’m not beyond team work and changing with organizational needs. My work ethic is tight and will not unravel.
Honesty. Integrity. Respect. Wisdom. Faith. Simplicity. These are the values I live and work by. I had this on the board at my desk and when I cleared out my office I left it there as a reminder of what I brought to the table. The kind of manager I was. The type of dedicated, personable, hard to find professional employee they had, but let get away.