Up In The Air

Since I have lost my job, people keep asking me, “So I guess you went out to see “Up In The Air’, right?” Well, actually, no I didn’t. Why would anyone who just lost their job want to see a movie about George Clooney as a professional downsizer? I thought it would be too painful to watch. It was painful enough having that moment, I wouldn’t want to re-live it on film. But seeing as I love Clooney and I was too curious about it, I broke down and watched it. I thought that after four months, it wouldn’t be as upsetting to watch. So I cued up the Comcast On Demand and let it rip.

It actually made me feel better. The scenes where they show people’s reactions to losing their job was actually hopeful. Why? It gave me hope because it is a universal experience and everyone reacts to it the same way. It makes it less disappointing to me personally to hear that everyone says the same things. It wasn’t just me that was going through this. “How could they do this to me?” ” After all these years, they just let me go?” “This is not right what you are doing!” “Why me, I did everything by the book!” We all say the same things!

There are so many milestones in life–graduation, marriage, kids, but you never stop to think that a negative experience like losing your job is actually one of the milestones that so many people reach and that brings about major change in life. We don’t live in an age of people working for one company for their whole career. We don’t live in that time where one small town had one big company where everyone worked. Those of us who stay with a company for a long time (for me it was 18 years) thought that maybe in the end, loyalty would be rewarded. We weren’t the people who job-hopped. We weren’t the ones always looking for the next best thing to come along. We didn’t abandon ship. We thought we were special people, people built to last, people who gave it all to their company. Only to realize…it didn’t matter. We were ordinary. We were just like everyone else.

And everyone else was being downsized, outsourced, let go, and big companies were imploding and shutting down. We live in different times. The world isn’t so small. We can write something on Facebook and it can go around the world in a few minutes. But there is a sense of community that comes online that used to be in the small town. When you ended up alone and jobless and you were walked out with your box of personal items, it was much easier before to shut yourself up in your room and cry for days. I found it was more beneficial to get online and share the experience. A lot of people are doing the same thing and I think we are all better for it. Maybe not all of us can write the Great American Novel, but we can still touch each other with a blog or a Tweet or a Facebook status where we let other people know we lost our job and what it feels like. We can reach out only to realize that so many people feel the same way and now we can instantly connect about it. We start feeling better about it sooner simply because we are talking about it with other people.

I thought more about the movie. There is a great scene where Clooney points out to a man that maybe this was the time to get back to his dream. He had graduated from culinary school and then took a job to work in business, the job he was now losing. The Clooney character asks him about it and wonders how much it cost him all those years ago to sell out his culinary dream to work in the business world and the character answers, “$28,000 a year.” It put things in perspective for me. I was a Communications and theatre major. I had arts background. And instead of working in that field, I had sold out for an entry-level job at a newspaper ad company for $18,000 a year in 1991. I sold out for $18,000. It makes you think, what is my dream worth? How much did it cost me to let it go?

Taking all of this into consideration, I thought about all the things I have been doing since I lost my job. I have been learning new things like floral arranging. I have gone back to writing creatively on a consistent basis. I have connected with my creative side and have been doing all of my wedding planning and designing on my own. I have more time to be a better friend, a better fiance, a better everything. I went to a garden club speakers bureau open house on Monday. I asked every single speaker what their background was and every single one of them told of some other job they lost (accountant, computer programmer, restaurant manager) that led them to doing what they really love. Sometimes you need loss in order to gain a sense of what you really should be doing.

So now I have to consider, what should I really be doing?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt
    Apr 25, 2010 @ 03:14:41

    Hi Kelly,

    Just letting you know that I read your post. I know the Internet feels like your talking but no one is listening sometimes.

    I’m glad to hear that you are taking the opportunity to rethink what you want career-wise. I hope you find something that satisfies you and feeds your muse.

    Best wishes for your wedding, I wish we could be there.

    I stop by the blog from time to time to see what you are up to.



  2. Glo
    May 01, 2010 @ 16:12:00

    I want to let you know your blog touched feelings I cannot express after being “fired” on Thursday morning. I too saw the movie, “Up in the Air” a while ago. Although I watched it through the eyes of someone who felt secure in a job I loved. Had just found it 8 months ago after a major medical setback. So happy, so confident that I would succeed in a new career that would bring me just a few years to retirement. Bamm! Life is changing again!
    Your words of “sold out for an entry-level job” ring so true. Thank you…I already have created my life…loving family, friends and good health to enjoy it. I won’t be “selling out” again.


  3. Sue Hepler
    May 20, 2010 @ 21:49:50

    Dear Kelly,

    My name is Susan Hepler and I live in Tewksbury, MA. I recently applied for a job (Major Gifts Officer) at the Accelerated Cure Project and I was looking on LinkedIn to find out more about the organization and who may be in my network. I found your profile and read your blog and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I, too, was laid off (at the end of 2008) from a job I truly enjoyed. It was quite a shock and I experienced the same feelings and emotions as you did.

    Thank you for writing about your experience. It certainly helped me feel less alone and like I was the ‘only one’. I’m so glad you have found something you enjoy and perhaps I will have the opportunity to meet you. Please continue your writing…. it’s wonderful and helpful for all of us out there who lost something important and are trying to put the pieces back together.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience!

    Sue Hepler


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