It is no secret that a woman in want of a job must be patient, persistent, and full of self confidence. I have definitely been a woman in want of a job, though barring the successful completion of a criminal background check, I’ll be starting a shiny new job in a few weeks. (NB: All new jobs are shiny until proven guilty.)
Am I any of those things a woman in want of a job is supposed to be? Yes. Kind of. Shut up.
Does mule headed count as persistent? I’m nothing if not mule headed. Ask anyone.
Patient? I’m very patient about reading a good book or carving a wood block. I can sand a piece of silver jewelry longer than you would ever think possible. Filling out job applications is what they have to do in the upper circles of Hell, though, and I have NO patience for that. Job applications are on the same level of Hell as ironing, if my recollection of Dante’s Inferno is accurate. Suicides, ironing and job applications.
Self-confident? Most of the time, when work isn’t doing their best to convince me I’m of no value, I’m very self confident about my intelligence and ability to learn new things. The last year has been a challenge to my inner smart girl. Let’s call me self-confident-ish.
If I’m not entirely full of self confidence at the moment, I am very full of other things. Mint tea. Sarcasm. Popsicles. Chicken soup. Fantastic family members and friends. I know all of the best people in the world. In spite of what has been one of the worst years of my adult life, I find myself feeling full of gratitude.
One of the odd things I’m grateful for is that my soon to be former employer ended my tenure in such a drawn out, sad way. Every time they could have made my exit a more positive experience, they didn’t. No one did anything horrible, and nothing was personal, but it does feel that way when you’re on my side of a reduction in force.
My manager has been fantastically supportive throughout, but often the company itself has been a role model of how not to handle eliminating a work team. Why am I grateful for that? Because it has resulted in me being genuinely glad to be leaving. I don’t even mean that ironically. The lack of support has resulted in my fully embracing the concept of moving into a new situation instead of being bitter about what I am leaving behind.
In the end, it has made me focus on what I really want instead of just maintaining the status quo. Not being treated like a valued employee has made me see that my professional happiness lies elsewhere.
Does that mean I am not grateful for the years of learning and growth I had while I was there? Not at all. Quite the opposite! The company has allowed me to grow professionally in a way few others would have. I progressed from a secretarial to a leadership role during the years I worked there. I learned both technical and application-based IT roles. Until the last couple of years, it has been a wonderful place to work, and it is still a worthy company now! I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to spend 28 years there.
The company has also enabled me to make an amount of money over the years that has allowed me the freedom to consider personally rewarding jobs that don’t pay as well. Jobs where I feel like I can serve the community as well as the people I work with. Jobs where I feel like I am giving back.
I’m also very grateful for the dozens of terrific people I have met there over the years, many of whom are now part of my family of friends. You know who you are, and you know how much I love you.
My long time friends and family are also due for some gratitude. They have listened to me cry and complain and tell them that I don’t know how to do anything useful for the past year. They’ve tried to reassure me that I am still smart, capable and employable. They’ve stood by me through an abusive coworker, the longest lay-off process ever, and my sometimes overwhelmed emotions when I looked for and didn’t find continued employment in the company I thought of as the place I would eventually retire from. They reassured me that I was NOT an unemployable dumbass who would die alone in a gutter, kept me (mostly) laughing at my own histrionics, and generally kept me as sane as it was possible to be during a really awful year. Even after I told some of them I was going to have to sell my house and move in with them during my unemployment and let them buy me beer. Seriously. I know the best people. You have no idea.
Most of all, I have to say I am grateful for how much this very difficult period of transition has opened me up to new possibilities. Personally, romantically and professionally. Change comes through difficult times, or there’s not much motivation to change. My former employer has allowed that to become possible. Could they have done things better? Yes, but so could I. As it turns out, I’m very grateful they didn’t do better, because it has lead me to a place I am very happy to be. Personally and romantically happier than I have been in years, and professionally open to new challenges.
It looks like I’ll be starting a new job in a couple of weeks with a local non-profit organization working with the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a finalist for another non-profit that works with homeless youth. It’s a boost to my previously mentioned self-confidence, for sure. Both positions are a bit of a change of direction, still healthcare, but working in a clinical rather than IT setting. I’m excited about it, excited about the group of very committed professionals I’ll be working with. It will be scary, but fun. It will be good for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. Hopefully it will be just as good for the people I work with and the community at large.
I’ll have a chance to feel like a useful part of something again.
Ultimately, the thing that I’ve never quite managed to overlook is that in spite of a really ugly year at work, I am quite privileged in many ways. I have a good mind, enhanced with years of education, technical training and reading. I have friends and family who would be behind me 1000% in case of disaster. I have savings, a retirement plan, and a severance package that will allow me to choose my professional path without too much concern about money.
I have the luxury of choice, and a grateful heart.
Thanks for getting me through the last year.