Tomorrow is my first day at the new job. We all knew this day was going to come.
Guys, it has been one wild ride. K came over tonight to give me a lovely end-of-Funemployment gift (see above) and do some reflectin’ and editin’ for this post. And warning: It ain’t a short one. So, I’ll summarize my thoughts here… If you choose to read no further than this, I want you to know that the last 5 months have been some of the, if not THE absolute, best of my life.
Also know that my following thoughts don’t include the recently discovered meaning of life or specific revelations about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.
I didn’t learn these things. But I did learn that I have some really amazing friends, an incredible support system in my family, and that it pays — REALLY PAYS — to save money for years on years on years. I have 16- to 26-year-old S to thank for my good fortune these last few months. Because of her dedication to working multiple jobs in college and putting those birthday checks directly into savings (with a little help from the ‘rents), I got to enjoy myself in a relatively panic-free Funemployment.
If we can revisit that oddly warmish November day when K and I left our old jobs for just one moment… Bless my parents for taking my manic phone calls in the minutes I had to decide my fate. And of course they did their parental duty by giving me the obvious, reasonable, responsible advice: Stay. It’s better to find a job when you have a job.
I heard them. I really did. I understood what they were saying and WHY they were saying that. And let me tell you, in a lot of ways they’re right. You have a lot of ‘splaining to do with that hole on your resume.
I also knew I had to leave. However, I can sit here and write all about my gut and where it was leading me and how I always trust it etc. But it’s one thing to know what you want/should do and quite another to have the courage — the balls — to actually DO IT. I can say with confidence that I would not have left without K leaving with me. Your friends are there to support you and tell you everything is going to be okay, but sometimes they’re also there to leap right off the cliff with you, holding your hand. K, I’ll never forget, even though your time was much shorter, that this was something we started together. Friends push each other to be better, to want better for themselves, and I thank you for that support. Always.
It has been an incredible 5 months., including trips to visit friends / new cities — from Florida to New York to San Diego to Philly. Here’s my little (or not-so-little) list of what I’m taking with me from this whole experience. Let’s call it…
The Most Unofficial Guide to Funemployment: Lessons Learned while Grievin’ and Growin’
1. Cry. Like, cry a lot. If you’re like me, you may not have been totally happy with your former job, but you certainly weren’t unhappy. You’ll miss the routine, you’ll miss feeling a part of something, and holy hell you’ll miss the people. Grieve it. K and I left on a Thursday afternoon and took the weekend — 2 and a half days — to mourn the loss of jobs we poured everything we had into for 2 and a half years. It was so, so necessary. And if I had spent the weekend trying to pep myself up instead of letting myself feel loss, I don’t think I would have moved on so quickly. It truly is like a break-up. It also is a great way for your friends to show you how ridiculously amazing they are. I’ll always, always remember the people who sat with K and I as we cried in a bar that Thursday night. And the ones who on Friday came to my house with a delightfully punny care package. I mean I’m sure listening to me cry while eating string cheese on my sofa was exactly what KR had planned for her Friday.
2. The best way is to get over it is to find something productive on which to focus your energy. Whatever your feelings about your old job, it’s just weird to not have anything to do during the day. At first SOAPNet might seem too alluring to miss out on. Don’t cave… yet. The blog was K and my little passion project — a way for us to channel our energy into something that felt productive at least for part of the day. Then we could retreat back to our homes, bake cookies, and pop bottles at 2 p.m. (André, obviously. But letsbehonest, that’s regardless of budget.)
3. Believe in yourself. Cliché, maybe, but SO important. You are going to feel like shit sometimes. I mean complete and total shit. You will have moments where you have an overwhelming feeling that you are now officially, 100% un-hirable, that your parents are disappointed in you, and that Jason Segel really is never going to be your husband. That too shall pass. You’ll realize (most of) your fears are just untrue. (This realization usually comes around the time you sober up…) I’m lucky in that I can count these really rough days on one hand — but I also still remember each one; they come fast and furious. But don’t let these down moments force you to question the process / what you’re meant to be doing. Don’t take the first job you are offered just because it’s a job. I turned down a job earlier in the process because I knew it wasn’t a good fit for me. The money would have been nice. The people were so sweet. But I also knew that I left my last job for something greater; if I just wanted a paycheck, I would have stayed.
4. At my last job, my coworkers became my friends. My friends became my coworkers. My life was my job in a lot of ways. I’ve always sort of defined my success by what I’m doing at work. Obviously you can’t rely on that when you don’t have a job. And that is hard. Really hard, sometimes. But this time has helped me find value in other things — hobbies, friends, exploring other interests. It’s allowed me to find value in myself and what I’m doing outside of the office. A nice reminder that you’re a person, not a position.
5. Have fun and a little faith. After you believe you WILL find a job again, the hardest part is the huge unknown: the WHEN. It can be paralyzing sometimes; especially when you see your savings account getting smaller and smaller. But in those moments, I tried to always imagine future me, in her new job, looking back on her Funemployed days. I won’t regret a minute of it because I used my time wisely; or at least I like to think so. I traveled, I saw friends, I kept up writing and editing, I discovered some really great coffee shops (and the people who work and hang in them). I took the time — and sometimes the money — to live it up with what we all wish we had sometimes: unlimited free time.
In the end, I just really want to say thank you to my friends and family. Again. And Again.
To all my friends who were there with me during this, y’all are some of the best a girl could ask for. Whether you were crying in a bar with me, coming to my house and offering comfort when I needed it the most, doing the same from afar, or just generally being my partners in crime, you guys have done way more than I could ever ask of you. And I hope I get to return the feelings and favors and all of the above in full one day.
To my family, I love you. Thank you for all of your support. I think having such good, strong examples in my parents helped me have the confidence in myself to take this journey. And the idea that perhaps there’d be a safety net if I truly, truly crashed and burned. (Thank God for all of us that didn’t happen.)
I’ve been saying it from the beginning, to the middle, and now the end. Truly, truly, I believe…