I am employment-challenged at the moment. And I am uncomfortably comfortable with this fact. I could get used to not going to an office every day. If it were not for the need to pay a mortgage and eat, I would be totally on board in a heartbeat. But alas, grown-up responsibilities hover around me like gnats on a summer day.
The uncomfortable part of my comfort is that practical side of me, saying, “Why are you not in a blind panic about this? You don’t have a job!”
So, I apply for jobs every week, as the government requires I do to deem me worthy of the unemployment benefits I have been paying into for years. They are the only insurance benefits that require that you prove your worthiness to receive them. When my home insurance gave me a new roof after a hail storm, I did not have to prove that I was doing all I could to live in a non-hail situation. Apparently, being downsized does not come with the same benefits as a hail storm. According to the unemployment office, you are either employed (i.e. a worthwhile, contributing member of society) or unemployed (i.e. time to get the big red L tattooed on my forehead proclaiming my Loser status).
After six months of unemployment, I have determined that there are likely no existing jobs out there that I am supposed to be doing. There are a few jobs I am qualified for, and I apply for some of them, but the very thought of accepting those jobs makes me want to melt into a puddle of tears. I spend my time hoping those jobs won’t come calling because I don’t want to answer that call. So, I also apply for jobs that might not seem like a perfect fit, but that might not make me want to cry when I wake up in the morning and head to an office. Some of them could even make me sort of happy. Now, there’s a concept. These jobs, however, appear to be few and far between.
On the plus side of unemployment, I have more time to spend with people I care about. My father’s health is not good, and my mother takes care of him. Unemployment gives me the opportunity to give her some relief from her care-taking role, and it gives me precious time with my sweet father. It has also allowed me time to make some new connections, which I have found surprisingly enjoyable since I am the poster girl for introversion. I guess there really is a plus side to most situations.
When I was downsized (a term I find particularly unnerving), I was not expecting it but I also was not entirely surprised. I was even a little relieved. That job, while a decent one that I did well and was paid somewhat sufficiently for, no longer felt like it fit. Actually, the company never really felt like a good fit. Early in my tenure there, I determined that I move through the world in an entirely different way than the people who surrounded me. Not a better or worse way; just a different way.
During that period, I went back to school and got my Master of Arts in Spirituality. Now, I am training to become a Spiritual Director, which feels oh-so comfortable. I’m heeding a call. I just don’t know exactly what I’m being called to. I sense a path I am supposed to be on, but there is a fog diminishing my view of the road ahead and I can’t quite see which way to go.
As I have been moving through this journey, those who know and love me assure me that the right opportunity will come my way because I have so much to offer. God has something special in store for me. Even the new people I am connecting with are asserting my worth and my potential contribution to the world. And while I feel supported and held by those comments, I also think, “Really? Can you put a timeline on that for me? Could you ask God to speak up and give me a hint or provide an outline I could follow? That big red L isn’t going to get any smaller on its own.”
I have determined, after some soul searching, that what I am looking for is not necessarily the right job, but the right work. That is the answer I currently give people when they ask me about my job search. And I even have some ideas about what that work might be. It is scary to say it out loud. But saying it out loud makes it real. It creates an expectation, and that is important for me. It takes the ideas out of my head and makes me face them as a reality. The “right work” is not going to be presented to me like my favorite meal on a silver platter with cushy benefits as the side dish. It is becoming clear that I am going to have to create that work. And that scares the you-know-what out of me.
So, I guess I need to put my big girl panties on and make something happen.
My word for the year is liminal. That wonderfully mysterious place between this and that, here and there, one world and another. It is an uncertain space that is absolutely pregnant with possibility and peace – if you allow it to be so.
It is a scary time, but it is an exciting time, too. I have a certain degree of peace with it, and that is comforting. But as I said, being comfortable with all of this can feel really uncomfortable at times. So, I do my best to remain in the gentle hover of that lovely liminal space, trusting that swimming in its mystery will eventually guide me toward my path.