A Thursday in April, 2016:
They pulled me and Shawn into a conference room, friendly like normal but something serious underneath.
Business as usual for the next week, then our work will be on hold.
They’d love to keep working together and we’re welcome to stay involved- but this is the direction the company must go to refocus for its next iteration.
In a few minutes, this job was effectively ending about as quickly as it began.
Was this really happening? Was this good news, or bad, or both? What could and should I have done differently? Should I wait things out or try to get another job immediately? How’s the team going to feel when they learn the news? How am I going to pay my bills in a month from now? Is this the end of those incessant instant message notifications, praise God?!
These questions were a lot to think about, so that first night, I focused on other important tasks – picking up some Monster Cookie ice cream from Target, calling my parents to discuss levels of financial screwed-ness, stockpiling groceries before the paychecks stopped coming, settling into the couch with Parks and Rec.
Pretty productive night, actually.
What I DIDN’T do was worry about the fact that I had one more week of income lined up before everything dried up. The first few days were surprisingly emotionless, relaxed. Maybe just distracted and shocked.
But as I worked my last week, that job-loss panic did eventually set in. I wrote about it some here late one night when I couldn’t sleep. It was that freaked-out fear of an unknown that, unlike my sabbatical earlier, I really hadn’t planned for.
People were so encouraging in response – thank you for taking the time to check in with me. You made things feel more hopeful and grounded, which was pretty much the biggest godsend for the time.
Since the job wrapped up though, I haven’t known how to talk about it…or ask for help. I’ve felt unsettled/uncomfortable so I haven’t wanted to really talk about this stuff much:
Theoretically I have a ridiculously simple problem (no job) with an equally simple solution (go. get. a. JOB)… so I’ve felt like I should just be hopping online, googling “HR jobs in Pasadena” and getting ON with things.
But I’ve felt a little stalled, interested in weird questions like:
“What does success actually mean to you – regardless of how other people define it?”
“What do you value most in life, and how might you make a career fit around these life priorities and not vice versa?”
Makes sense these questions are popping up now – they’re the same questions I’d barely started thinking about last Fall as the sabbatical drew to a close…until this job fell into my lap. Once I had a job, those deeper life questions were on the back burner – I had a paid distraction and reprieve.
But helpful or interesting as they may be, these questions do very little to, you know, pay rent.
I can vividly see that “right” answer – get a steady job/get back in the race/climb the ladder…and it’s taken me the past month to admit that at least for now, the safe, steady, “right” answer isn’t the one I want. At least, it’s not the only answer.
It’s a bit like when you know that person you “should” be into, the one who “makes sense”, who’s great on paper – yet you crave something different, unfamiliar, that wild child alter ego who evokes furrowed brows and uncertainty: him?
It, whatever it is: That crazy dream of what doesn’t add up, what breaks some rules, what doesn’t make sense until it somehow, deeply does.
Maybe that burns out with time, maybe that appeal is just naïveté or immaturity talking.
Maybe you go for that wrong answer and don’t turn back. I don’t know. I certainly want to find out.
And I do know I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing some pretty defensible “right” answers, and while steady income is USEFUL and health benefits are TOTALLY UNDERRATED and one’s comfort zone is PLEASANT, there’s a time and place to prioritize them. I can’t shake the thought that there is also some very important stuff learned in the exploring/questioning/wandering, even though it might feel crazy at times. There’s something to be gained from the crazy. 🙂
And if on some level some of these thoughts register somewhere with you, too… well, then maybe we can be a little crazy together.