The View from Unemployment

viewSome days writing a personal blog is harder than others. Despite the fact that it looks like I share everything about my private life for the benefit/entertainment of others, I don’t. I actually keep a pretty tight lid on most of it. Usually by the time I’ve shared something, whether joyful or painful, I’d worked through it. It has passed and I have some nugget of wisdom I’m hoping you will benefit from or at the very least relate to. This time I think I’ll just jump right in and let you know how it’s going mid-experience. Maybe some of you have a few nuggets of wisdom you can share with me.

Two weeks ago I was laid off from a job I’d been at for five years. While “huge budget cuts” is a perfectly acceptable reason to lose a job, it stings none the less. I have never been laid off. I have never left a job until I was ready to do so and had something better all set up! The reality is, a lot of my peers have been through this, I just never imagined I’d be one of them.

People keep asking me if I’m okay. The answer, surprising to even myself, is that I am exceptionally well! Oh, there are moments of fear and doubt, but they are just moments. This is one of the benefits of having survived some really awful stuff in my life. Losing a job is mild by comparison.

It’s pretty amazing really, to be able to take a little bit of time to sit back and ask myself “okay, what do you want to do next?” Not what do I HAVE to do, but what do I WANT to do. You see, all my children are grown. I don’t live with anyone else who depends on me. I get to decide what I want to do next based on my wants and needs and no one else’s! For someone who sacrificed a lot to raise four children, this is BIG!!!

Now don’t get me wrong. Things are not all peachy! I have discovered that this unemployment thing has stages to it. It is a grieving process. I worked hard to be where I was in my last job. I worked hard to be promoted and to earn a degree while I was there. I formed solid working relationships and lasting friendships. This is a loss, and I will mourn it. Today is a good day, but not every day has been.

On good days I’ve applied for jobs, knit Christmas presents for my kids, read great books and met friends for lunch. I’ve volunteered my time. I had done my spring cleaning, my fall cleaning, and then some. I’ve cooked a dozen different meals and froze them in individual containers so that when I start my new, busy, fabulous job I’ll have meals all done ahead of time.

On bad days I’ve stayed in my pajamas until 3 pm. There was a marathon of old episodes of the Love Boat, a few episodes of Married with Children, and a lot of the Ellen Show. I draw the line at The Price is Right. I still have pride.

Relax you say? What? I am used to working a 40 hour a week job, and taking classes, and volunteering, and dealing with a large family. All this free time is killing me!

Now if I knew what was ahead, I could really enjoy this time. If someone could guarantee I’d have a few weeks off, then land a wonderful, new and exciting job, well then relaxing might be possible.  But I’ve known too many people who were unemployed for an extended period of time to not have nagging worries creeping into the back of my mind. It’s hard to relax when the future is uncertain.

But that’s how life works, doesn’t it. We NEVER know from day to day what good or bad things are going to come our way. There are never guarantees. All we can do is the best we can do, today. In the meantime, there are new opportunities presenting themselves daily. There is unexpected time with friends and family. I feel good, and there’s no snow in the forecast. What more do I need right now?


Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.