The elephant in the room


Earlier this summer, I found myself without a job. One day I was working on an important client project and had meetings taking up much of my day, the next I was combing job sites and ramping up networking efforts on LinkedIn. My first response to the Covid-related job loss was to panic. My next one was to begin to work the problem, to find a solution. I was fortunate to be in a good spot financially where I could take some time to regroup and consider all my options, but I knew that I would eventually need to get back to work.

In the months since, my job search has been a constant, in the back of my mind or underneath the surface in many of my conversations with family and friends. It’s been the elephant in the room.

It’s also been more than that; it’s served as a learning experience, a chance to grow. Here’s what I’ve learned: 

-Grieving is important. As much as I try not to fall into the trap, I have long associated my self-worth with my job. Maybe it’s the values my parents instilled? Or possibly my sense of obligation and duty? Who knows.? I’m more than my job, but I still take pride in my work and accomplishments. It can be hard to separate the two. With no job, it was important to grieve the loss, so that I could move on with my life. 

–Coming to grips with the awkwardness. I always knew subliminally that no one knows what to say to someone who’s been furloughed. Once my job was taken from me, it became even more apparent. I saw how awkward conversations with friends became. People obviously wanted to wish me well, but they weren’t sure what to say. Should they bring up the job search or avoid it completely? Should they ask about former work friends? Despite it all, it’s still been nice to hear from people who want the best for my family and myself. 

-Recognizing that my values are not necessarily other’s values. I’ve always known that I care about different things than others, but it’s been eye-opening for me to see the difference in such stark terms. Like anyone else, I love dreaming about fun trips to exotic locations, houses, cars, the latest and greatest technologies, but I care about other things too. I believe in God and try to live my life accordingly. I care deeply about my family. With Covid present, I’ve appreciated spending time with my family and giving to others. If I had not been furloughed, I’m pretty sure I would have never gotten the opportunity to spend so much quality family time. An acquaintance gave me a double look when I said recently that I’m extremely grateful for the way things worked out. I wasn’t lying. Yes, I worry, but it’s the absolute truth.

-Maintaining a positive attitude. I’m a worrier by nature, but I’ve tried to not get too far ahead of myself. I’ve tried instead to live in the moment and enjoy my free time. If nothing else, I’ve tried to remind myself that short term challenges don’t represent how things will always be. Everything is temporary. In short, God has bigger plans in mind.

So after a crazy few month, I’ve been successful in landing a new and exciting job and will be starting it in the new year. The job is most definitely a dream job. I’ll be able to get back to doing what I love and will have a chance to be part of a team and make a meaningful contribution. I couldn’t ask for more.

Yes, it’s been a strange process, but I’m thrilled to be wanted again and to start something new. For everyone who has been an ally and a support to my family and me, I thank you. You’ve been a lifesaver!


Related stories:

Getting a pink slip

Glass half-full

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