For 15 weeks between October and January, I was out of work. I learned a lot in that time and needed the ego check, so I'm thankful for the experience - in retrospect, of course. From the beginning, though, the whole concept rattled me to the core. So much of each of our identities lies in what we do for work, and, for most people, the majority of waking hours are spent at or commuting to and from a job. I've found this to be especially true in The DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia), and having graduated recently made it all the more obvious. Imagine: "I just graduated with my master's degree, and all day long I sit on my couch writing cover letters while half-listening to daytime TV." Um, yeah. Lovely. Despite the fact that I had accepted a great opportunity to work in a project-based position over the summer, I felt like a complete loser. It was damaging to my self-esteem, and that fact alone negatively impacted some of my relationships, especially with those who were geographically nearby and forced to deal with this version of me.
For 7 weeks in November and December, I didn't talk to a friend who had become a staple in my life and was indescribably important to me. During the same time as I felt professionally lost, I became socially confused and emotionally dependent. I felt like I could have written that old lyric: "I was a dreamer before you went and let me down..." As much as I consider myself to be an independent young woman, I missed just having that friend to count on. I censored conversations with family and friends, and I hated what the change did to me. As much as I wished it weren't so, I knew I was no longer the bubbly, happy, sarcastically funny girl I had previously known myself to be.
For almost 3 weeks now, things have been on the upswing. The transition from 12/31/2012 to 01/01/2013 was more than just the turning of a calendar page. I consciously adopted a new perspective, a brighter outlook, and a positive attitude. With the new year, the United States did not fall off the (fictitious) fiscal cliff, and (as a result) job prospects picked up. I endured three interview opportunities during the first full week of the year and accepted a new position that is unique and challenging and allows me to make a tangible difference in people's lives. In short, brighter outlook coupled with renewed faith has led to a new, very fitting job, rekindled relationships, and...significantly fewer tears.
I will never get those weeks between October and January back, but the lessons learned during that time will stay with me:
- Be open - to change, to possibilities, and in your communications and relationships.
- When you think things can't get worse, they can. A positive attitude goes a long way in making them feel easier, though.
- Work hard, especially when you don't want to, and you will be rewarded.
- Faith conquers all - even love.
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