Losing my job threw me into uncertainty (not my favorite place to be). I felt lost for months, wandering around in my soul, trying to figure out “what’s next?” I believe in fairness, equity, and justice (see https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/ ) and wallowed for a while in “it’s unfair land”. How could the funding for my program be cut? Blah, blah, blah!
However, I also strive for an attitude of gratitude, and noticed that some aspects of my life were way more relaxed without working full time. I kept going to the gym in the morning, but didn’t have to set my alarm clock for 0-dark-thirty (a military expression for VERY EARLY). I wasn’t rushing around like a maniac after work to run errands, or pile them all into a Saturday…grocery store, post office, laundry, anyone? I finished the book club book ahead of time!
I had time to appreciate the beauty in our world. I used to go on nature walks on weekends, and multitasked throughout. Last year, I brought a backpack to a local park, so I could do 3 other things while on a walk (sit on a bench and write a letter to a relative who doesn’t use e-mail, etc.). This year, I sat down and talked to a frog for a while. Now, don’t worry, the frog didn’t speak back to me in English, but I heard a volley of croaks and bellows echoing across the pond, and as my eyes adjusted to the dim shadow under leafy reeds, I saw another frog that I missed at first glance.
In the past, the term “analysis paralysis” applied to me; well, I guess it still does. But the Authentic Happiness questionnaire listed it as a strength, in that I think things through and don’t jump to conclusions. Should I take a job at a 30% cut in pay? Am I desperate enough yet to accept a position three times the commuting length I had before? Let me get some advice from a career coach, and some staff members at the local Career Center. I am now open minded to a new career for myself as a life coach! I am glad to teach one class at a college to build my skills.
My strength of honesty didn’t make it entirely easy to ask for help. But I’ve always preferred to talk about the elephant in the room than ignore it, so mentoring is welcome. I connected with other adjunct instructors for advice, and willingly shared my frustrations with fellow coach trainees, who gently guided me to new ways of thinking. If I feel like I have too much time on my hands, how about increase my volunteering? Look for a new book group closer to my new home (but keep driving to the wonderful book group where we used to live). Get a free personal training preview session at the gym and try new classes (zumba, water aerobics, anyone?). Take a crafting class. Join Toastmasters to boost my public speaking skills.
Losing a job has not resulted in 100% fun, but I know for sure that it has provided me with new opportunities. I felt useless and disoriented for a while, but that does not mean that I am a worthless person. I’ve improved my networking skills, learned how to use the on-line education tool called Blackboard, and sat by the pool for a few minutes after working out at the gym- a luxury I never had on a regular basis while working full time.