Happy Unemployment Anniversary

Well, a year ago I was still coming to terms with the fact that after 18 years, I was let go from my company. I bet everyone is wondering what I have learned in the past year from the whole experience.

The first thing I learned is that sometimes there isn’t a reason for things happening to you that is in your control. Even if I was doing a million different things to promote the security of my job, I was still going to be let go. I cost too much, I was telecommuting, and most of all, loyalty really doesn’t mean anything to a company that isn’t doing well. I worked in the newspaper advertising and editorial business. How many newspapers are being read in print anymore? Fewer and fewer. I realize that I was just going to hang on until they let me go before I found something else. I think most people feel that way. If for you it’s personally not broke,  you don’t fix it. So that’s what I did, I enjoyed working from home, being creative and not leaving my comfort zone. Even though I was hardly being challenged professionally, it was ok. So many people are actually MISERABLE at their jobs, that ok was working fine for me.

The second thing I learned is that there is never a good time for bad things to happen. Everyone said to me, “They let you go right before Christmas and while planning a wedding, that’s such a bad time!” Well, I think any time is a bad time to lose your job. But you survive as long as you aren’t living your life beyond your means. I used the unemployment for what it was meant, to get me through until I got another job. I didn’t take advantage of it and I didn’t celebrate it. But I used it as a means to an end. I was unemployed for nine months and I gladly hunted for a job and diligently filled out my unemployment logs. I didn’t act entitled or indignant. Sometimes the success in life just comes from plodding along and making the small every day steps to change your situation. No drama, just life.

The third thing I learned is that it is not personal. If you have read the Four Agreements, you know that “It’s Not Personal” is a big part of learning how to be happy and successful in the world. Losing a job is only personal to the individual losing it. The company doesn’t really care and it doesn’t really benefit you to act like a victim or a martyr. With such a high rate of unemployment, the collective masses wish someone would also take it personally to get unemployment levels down. But really, when you have a job again, you go back to shopping freely at the mall, taking vacations, and getting take-out and not worrying about how the unemployed people are affording these things. It isn’t personal and it isn’t permanent.

The last main thing I learned is that happiness in your job is not really about being comfortable. Now that I am in a totally new career, I realize that I really enjoy and am passionate about what I am doing now. Non-profit is a perfect fit and coordinating fundraising events is a wonderful experience. Am I comfortable? Not really, some days I am learning so much that you can’t be comfortable. But it’s a good feeling to be challenged and nervous, it spurs you on to create great things.

For those who are entering the land of unemployment or still stuck in it, I have this for you. Keep your head held high, be proud of who you are and don’t let a job or not having a job define you. I was able to put a lot of good into the world while I was not working. I wrote this blog to help other people understand and share the experience. I did volunteer work to help others with the free time I was temporarily blessed with. I created a beautiful wedding that was enjoyed by my friends and family. I spent time taking care of children and that experience itself was worth being unemployed to me. Don’t doubt your power to make a difference in the world, you don’t need a job to do that.


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