Thursday was my last day at work. Though I'd never use a word as strong as "love" to describe my time there, it was my first job after grad school and the job that brought me to New Jersey. Lots of things happened in my life during these past three years, from the death of a grandparent to my brother's college graduation, my father's remarriage and the coming and going of umpteen friends/boyfriends.
Most relevant, I realized that perhaps this job, a position I'd been groomed for during two years of school, internships and informal training, was not a good fit for me and I was often frustrated and unhappy. Now, just two weeks and two days after that fateful day of reckoning, I've learned a few things about life after lay off.
1. I seem to inspire confidence in people. Various colleagues and friends have commented, "Oh, I don't worry about you. You'll be fine and will have a great new job in no time." While it's nice to know they find me capable and more importantly, employable, I do want their concern if for no other reason than the fact that I'm scared shitless.
2. Being unemployed is a little like being pregnant (I imagine). Everyone has an opinion on what you should do and horror stories about their own similar experiences. And no one has any problem telling you exactly what they think about your situation. From the delicately sympathetic, "How are you?" to the audaciously rude, "Ever find a job?" the unemployed have to field a startling number of questions.
3. Brains and ambition do not necessarily confer certainty in one's path in life. Yeah, there are a million jobs I could do, but ask me what I want to do and I'm really not sure. After I finish writing this post, the next item on my to do list is tackling a values clarification exercise that will hopefully help me out.
Somehow, my dream job still hasn't evolved beyond the New York Times Styles Section correspondent position I fantasized about in college journalism classes. When interested parties inquire about what I'd like to do next with my career, I don't truly have a good answer.
It's almost embarrassing for someone who's always prided herself on being unafraid on ambition to suddenly find herself without clear goals in sight. When I moved to Baltimore after college, I knew I'd go to grad school, get a fellowship with a three-year work commitment and continue on the path of professional achievement within the Jewish communal workworld. Seven years later, I am need of a Life-GPS that soothingly utters, "recalculating."
Who knows what this values clarification program will suggest and what the next few months of job hunting will bring my way. Though I am not so lost that I will blindly follow the suggestions of my blog readers, I'm happy to hear what you have to say... as long as it doesn't involve law school.