A little over a year ago I wrote a piece about my unemployment experience. Looking back, it comes off as a very angst-ridden, frustrated (yet precise) account of all the various dead ends I encountered despite my ample efforts. While I still believe many aspects of the post are justifiably sound, I have come to realize that maybe my focus was a bit….obtuse.
That said, is it ironic that I find myself in the very same situation a year later? However, the situation is different now. Another contract has come to an end, and I find myself out of work again. But this time around, I’m not worried about where my next paycheck will come from, where I’m going to find my next opportunity, or wringing my hands pondering why employers aren’t flooding my inbox / voice-mail. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around this particular block a few times already. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and grown tired of worrying needlessly about things I can’t control. Or maybe it’s due to a recent revelation I’ve had. It’s really a mix of all those things.
A week back, my contract was cut shorter than anticipated. Usually when you’re hit with this kind of bomb, people wig out. And to be honest, I did as well….for about 10 minutes. But after that, it all clicked together for me, “I need to make a change and do something different.” Because whatever it is I’ve been doing this past decade hasn’t been working out. All it’s gotten me is more stress, more debt, two failed relationships, and routine disappointment & misery from playing ‘catching up with the Jones’. Now that’s not to say the past decade has been a waste. If anything, it has been an incredibly awesome ride: I’ve lived in many countries across the globe, received a post grad degree, worked for a few major companies, developed some valuable skills, and met some extraordinary people along the way. So yes, it’s been an experience that fascinate many people. The downturn would be that I focused so much on trying to succeed in the rat race without giving much concern as to what I truly wanted to do. Professionally, I’ve worked across a few industries. And to my credit, I’ve always been able to contribute and deliver some notable accomplishments in all my job roles. But that’s all they were to me: jobs, not careers. I enjoyed them initially. But ultimately, they weren’t jobs that gave me any sort of fulfillment. I didn’t have any desire to build them into a long-lasting career. Now, I’m the sort of guy that thrives on change. Taking on new projects & tasks is right up my alley. It’s my spice of life. But looking back, I should have been more honest to myself about some of my endeavors. I partially forsook some of my professional deal-breakers for a bigger paycheck or the company name.
10 minutes goes by and I come to something along the lines of a road to Damascus moment. That epiphany being: I need to make some changes and do something different. What sort of changes? That’s what I’m going to find out. Unfortunately, I don’t have a time machine that will allow me to go back to college and switch back to my psychology major and become a psychiatrist like I wanted. Nor do I currently have the time or money. So that pursuit will have to sit on the backburner for the time being. The good news is that I have other pursuits I’m currently exploring. And given my curious nature, I still remain open to exploring new opportunities wherever they may come. But that’s a whole other blog post for another time.
A few things have dawned on me during this new development. For the first time in a long time, I feel…”free. I know there’s a fair degree of naivety in this considering my circumstances. Outside of keeping my dog fed and my ballooning student loan (ugh!), I’m not really tied down to any other dire commitments. I’m pretty much free to choose whatever I want. It’s just a matter of picking a direction and sticking to it. And more surprisingly, I don’t feel burdened or worried anymore. I wasted so much time worrying and wallowing in bouts of self-pity that it made socializing and networking a genuine chore for me. Furthermore, I failed to appreciate all the great things and people I had in my life. It lead to me making incredibly, stupid decisions resulting in failed relationships and strained friendships. That’s a period in my life I will never, ever revisit. So now, I take time to smell the roses while I forge the road ahead. I’m in the city I love and always wanted to live in. And I love every-single-day of it (even if I’m not part of the standard rank-and-file workforce).
That said, I just know everything will work out somehow. Contribute that to dumb luck, or surviving past streaks of unemployment, or my latent religious upbringing. Whatever the case, things will get better just as long as I put in an honest effort and maintain a healthy focus. Wherever I end up, I know it won’t be a cakewalk and will require a fair amount of hardships. But that’s what makes the journey worth it in the first place, right?