Notes from the Unemployed: Week One

Holy crap, you guys.

I had to leave my job last week.

Yes, the new, interesting, high-paying one that was supposed to be the next big, exciting step in my career. I had to quit.

That’s really all I have to say about it.

But it’s fine. Everything is fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine, right? Nothing to worry about. I am an intelligent, creative, hard-working, problem-solving, super-capable grown-ass woman at the height of her career, right? ‘TIS BUT A MINOR SETBACK.

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Nope. I’ve spent the past week adjusting to this new (and hopefully temporary) normal of not working. But it’s weird. Like, really weird. I’ve been working full-time for the past ten years since my divorce, hustling into new and better jobs and finishing my degree at night with all the plucky urgency of a single mother who Is Going To Beat The Statistics, Dammit. And, up until now, it worked out pretty well. I finished my degree. I reached a senior level in my position. I met a wonderful man and remarried and had a new baby and bought a big house in a nice part of town where we could all live out our Modern American Blended-Family Dream. I did everything right, and still ended up here.

It happens, I guess.

It felt brave in the moment – gathering up my things and handing in my resignation letter – but maybe not so much now. The bravery starts to wear off once the billing cycle resets. Now I’m scrambling for the next right move while catching up on laundry and cleaning the bathrooms and cooking budget-friendly meals to earn my keep with my conscience. For the past decade, I’ve been doing what was necessary to bring in enough money to house, clothe, and feed three (now four) children. Now I’m suddenly not. Yikes.

It’s okay, though. I think. I mean, we are incredibly fortunate to have the margin for just this sort of situation. For a while, anyway.

I gave myself a few days for deep reflection and introspection to wear yoga pants and get casual about showering and pick Extra Toasty Cheez-It crumbs out of my sweater while bingeing Mad Men seasons for the ninetieth time and retreating from the outside world so I could focus on feeling bad about myself. It was kinda fun and self-indulgent, but six days and five junk-food pounds later, I still have the same nagging, self-doubting questions:

Was this really the right move? Well, duh, you big ding-dong. Obviously, it wasn’t.
Why did I leave all my awesome co-workers at my old job, anyway? I love those guys.
How could I have been so wrong?
What’s my next move?
Wait. Am I even qualified to decide my next move now?

I mean, my next move could be anything. Which is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. I’m have some big, different, way-out-of-my-comfort-zone ideas, but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. Mostly because said ideas make me wonder if I’m venturing into mystical hippie woo-woo-ery (IT’S A WORD). In the meantime, I’m trying to stay tethered to the grown-up world of lunch and coffee dates, networking and job-searching, re-working my résumé and thinking deeply about What I Really Want To Do, and how to get there without sinking us into mind-numbing debt or causing friends and family to wonder if I’ve been sucked into the tie-dyed vortex of mystical hippie woo-woo-ery.

I’m also starting meditation practice, because I desperately need to create a quiet space in my frantic little hamster brain (btw, the Headspace app is awesome, even the free version for newly broke-ass types like me). After the past week’s events, my inner monologue is going a little something like this:

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Readers, have you been here? Is this the first step of a big new beginning? Or a flying leap off a cliff? Is this going to end well? Or will I end up shuffling up and down the driveway in my pajamas, a mere empty shell of a woman who formerly had it all? I WANT TO KNOW.

With all this newly-found free time, I guess I’ll do more writing.
Does anyone need freelance work?
Hair? Plasma?
I can spare a kidney…

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