It always amazes at how much can happen in a year. Even when time flies by, so much occurs in just 12 months.
A lot of things have happened in my life in the past year, but one significant event happened a year ago today: I lost my job.
While I had been thinking about job hunting for a while since I wasn’t sure how long my position would hold up within the company, it still feel a little abrupt being let go like that.
No matter how much you love or hate your job, getting laid off or fired is still a pretty awful feeling. I remember that I tried not to cry as gchatted Alex to tell him what happened, wiped my desktop clean, grabbed my things, and headed on out. I drove to Alex’s brand new apartment, a mere 5 minutes away. We went out to dinner at Fountainhead. I watched college football with my friends and had a great time at the Design Harvest Festival that weekend.
Then I woke up on Monday morning and said out loud to myself, “Now what?”
I applied for unemployment. I nursed a cold on my couch while job hunting. I drank even more coffee than usual. And luckily for me, my unemployment only lasted a couple of weeks before I found two part-time jobs (which turned into one part-time job with the new year).
For 9 months, I pinched pennies. I applied for deferment because I couldn’t pay my student loans. I cooked a lot more. I watched my checking account like a hawk but also racked up some credit card debt. I freelanced and thought about reentering the service industry. And I kept job hunting.
Which catches up to the present day, because I got my current full-time gig in July and have been hilariously busy since. But still, being unemployed either because I got laid off or because I left my job to get the heck out of Dodge, I’ve learned a few things about myself.
You prefer stability. I don’t think I’m great at freelancing and could never pull it off full-time. I really admire the people that do (and do it very well). But after the last couple of years, I definitely know it’s not for me. When I wasn’t working full-time, I was constantly anxious about paying my bills and played out worst case scenarios in my head (some of which involved moving home to middle of nowhere, TX). With my current job, I’m constantly busy so I currently feel like I don’t have a ton of time for personal creative endeavors but I’m secure at the moment.
You need food, not shoes. Because I’m crazy person, I refuse to let my checking account go below $100, even when I was working part-time. Hence the credit card debt. But I also had to remember what was important when I was actually spending money; rent and groceries were always going to be a bigger priority than new clothes or dining out.
You’re not a failure. I think I struggled with this the most. I really can be my own worst enemy sometimes and constantly put pressure on myself to always do my best. It’s a ridiculous habit I’ve had since I was a kid (seriously, I would cry if I got less than an A on my report card and no, I’m not kidding). Losing my job meant struggling with my inner critic, who can make me feel pretty bad about myself if I let it. I wasn’t a terrible editor or crappy at what I did/do, but it took me a little while to realize and embrace that.
It’s interesting to think that my current job is really only my 2nd full-time with benefits kind of job since graduating from college four years ago. But it’s been a struggle to find something really worthwhile, both in Austin and Chicago. If anything, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. If there’s anyone out there that’s unemployed or job hunting, don’t give up. It’s completely cliche, I know. But keep going, even when it feels hopeless. Think of yourself as a shark; you have to keep moving to stay alive. (Good analogy or GREAT analogy? You decide.)
So here’s to moving forward.