Monday, February 28, 2011
The first week I spent out of work started with a little self-indulgence and a lot of guilt and feeling like I was worthless. I'd play computer games, screw around online, make plans I knew I likely wouldn't follow through on and drink screwdrivers or rum 'n cokes. I wasn't doing anything productive, and what's worse, I wasn't even enjoying myself. This is when I first started realizing that maybe I wasn't handling the whole unemployment thing as well as I'd hoped.
Near the end of that week, I made a decision. For just a little bit, while I have severance coming, being paid for my time, I resolved to do whatever I wanted, while refusing to feel guilty about it. Indulge just a bit, so I wouldn't have to eat the worst parts of not working and have the best parts ruined. Instead, I'd eat ice cream.
I made this decision shortly after waking up, and decided to do it literally. Walked to the freezer, got out a cookie-dipped drumstick, and had breakfast. Damned if I didn't feel better. All of a sudden, self-loathing was gone.
I'm not a child, I knew then and know now that I can't just style myself as a "gentleman of leisure" and just do whatever the hell I want forever. But dealing with the reality of my new situation involves needing to cope. Guilt wasn't helping at all. Icecream helped a little.
Hating yourself for things that are beyond your control is a waste of time. Don't.Blog Gadgets
Saturday, February 26, 2011
(Picking up where I left off, Saturday posts will likely not be the norm.)
My first real job was managing a hobby shop. I'd always been an avid gamer, D&D, board games, all the geek pursuits were pretty much mastered in college. Primary games buyer and store manager was a dead-end job, but damned if it wasn't a good time. I took advantage of the hours and did improv comedy, acting on stage and screen (commercials, whatnot), singing, joined up with a team of paranormal investigators and even did an improv drag rock musical.
When the hobby shop shut down, I was sad, but I knew I'd never leave, even though there was no where to go and I wasn't making much. I'd started my own convention company, running one of the largest gaming conventions in the Chicago area, but I kinda knew that the end of the hobby shop was the end of that, too. I got a job selling video games about the time I met the woman who is now my wife, and left that when they stubbornly refused to give me my own store.
I learned something else important when I took the next job, still struggling as an actor/comedian and not making it. My new career was at a diamond engagement jewelry store, I supervised a team, ran an office, and within a few months, despised what I was doing. It got to the point where having no job was better than continuing on in that one, so I quit. I learned that I have to believe in what I'm doing. Making money isn't enough.
After a period of unemployment, I got the job working with troubled kids in a therapeutic day high school. I was damned good at it, drawing from my other interesting careers and talents, learning how to do crisis intervention and doing something that mattered. Part teacher, part therapist, part babysitter, part security guard, the job was consistently different and interesting and it paid the bills. At least it did, until I was called into that office.
I've done a hell of a lot of interesting things, one thing in common. I never made much money.Blog Gadgets
Friday, February 25, 2011
I'm going to talk a lot about where I am, and where I hope to be going, but that might just be getting ahead of myself. A "biography" or "About me" blurb won't quite do it. I've had a lot of different jobs, yet I managed to hold the same one for almost ten years. My background will help explain why it is hard for me to figure out what to do next. It'll also be too long for a single entry, so I'll post the other half tomorrow.
I was one of those really, really smart little kids. Never stopped asking questions, tested well, skipped a grade, maybe a little nerdy, but nothing that really stunted my social development too badly. Coasted through high school, learned that I really liked performing and was good at it, and that if I slacked off, I wouldn't be socially ostracised as much. (If I want to be brutally honest with myself, this probably didn't do wonders for establishing a good work ethic right away, as I learned to procrastinate and do just enough to get by.) Really got into "doing my own thing", being the "weird kid", and went to college with a black fedora, trenchcoat and chuck taylors as my standard uniform.
Didn't do so well in college, drank a lot, didn't go to many classes, casually aced the few I did turn up for, but dropped out with nothing to show for it but a lot of debt. Moved back home from my first apartment into my parent's house and took another shot at college. Stopped taking classes when I landed my first "real" job. I'd already worked in a fabric store, with a temp agency, grocery store, at my father's place of employment as an office drone to a big financial printer, and even threw papers 7 days a week out of my old beat-up car. This was different. (We'll start there tomorrow.)Blog Gadgets
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Getting my head on straight was harder than I thought it'd be.
When I was called into the office, it was a surprise. I had no idea that it was even a possibility, but when I saw my boss's boss... his very friendly but somehow sad demeanor, almost apologetic, and then the woman from HR, I knew.
The last time I'd been in this situation, I put up a very good, very professional front, but I was devastated inside. Thirty-four years old, a married man, choking back tears. But not this time. The same two people, same office, same reason. I was getting laid off. Not because my performance wasn't exemplary. (It was.) Not because I wasn't well liked or respected for how I did my job. (I was.) I was getting laid off for the second time in six months because three year's senority wasn't enough, and cuts needed to be made. I congratulated myself on how well I was handling it this time. I wasn't upset, just listened and asked appropriate questions and calmly discussed my options, resolving to call once I'd made a decision. The two sympathetic people in the office thanked me again for my astounding professionalism and service, given the circumstances, and I collected my belongings and left.
I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be coming back.
This is where it started, and I don't know where it is going. I write about a situation that a lot of people have found themselves in lately. At a crossroads, trying to figure out "What the hell do I do with my life from here on out?" "How do I keep from feeling worthless?" "Can I really balance the desire to not take another job I'll hate just because it is there against the possibility of becoming unemployable?"
I've been thinking a lot about those questions and others. I'm going to write a little bit about where this is all taking me. It won't be all gloom and doom. It won't be all sunshine and roses, either.
It'll be me, writing even if no one is reading, about a 34 year old man, suddenly unemployed and dealing with it. Maybe writing about it will help me get my head on straight.Blog Gadgets