As a consistently rated top performer and loyal employee of 11 years, I never thought in a million years that I’d find myself on unemployment, trying to get approved for state-sponsored health insurance. But last month, a fifteen minute meeting changed everything. I was called into a meeting with an interim department manager and HR, and after callously being told I was being laid off, I found myself 6 months pregnant, jobless, and absolutely screwed.
I won’t go into reasons given or behind-the-scenes details because that isn’t important. Nor do I want that to define my story. It’s the past. And now I need to figure out the future. I know what I’ve done. How I’ve answered the uninspired question “So, what do you do?”
For as many years as I can remember, I defined myself by my employer and my job description. And so, after having those ripped away, I didn’t know how to answer the question. “What do I do?” Good fucking question. What do I do now? I know what I’m good at in the corporate world. I know what I’m passionate about. Maybe I can put those together and land the next big job, applying my existing skills to a new field. Or maybe I spend some time expanding my experience, picking up contract work and interesting side projects until I find my stride. Maybe I work on a new business venture I’ve been daydreaming about for too long.
This isn’t about finding a silver lining to having my financial security and career compass stripped away at a moment’s notice. I won’t pretend that silver lining exists. It’s shitty spending my days trying to work through state systems to get health insurance, every two weeks cancelling a prenatal appointment because those damn ducks still aren’t in a row.
This isn’t about how I’ve overcome and discovered who I am. I don’t think I even want an elevator pitch definition of myself anymore. And if I do, it certainly won’t focus on the past, who I was, and what I’ve done.
This is about the journey, however it turns out. The forward movement. The next chapter.