Are you really that happy living life laid off?

by Mariam Williams

I’ve remained unusually positive for the past several months, but this week, I’ve had a few meltdowns.

The first occurred Tuesday morning as I prepared for a meeting scheduled for the following day with a small marketing company.  I’ve been trying to freelance my copywriting and research skills – essentially the same thing I was doing for a full-time job before I was laid off – since October, but so far, none of the leads have panned out.  At my most optimistic moment, I knew I would have a fully-functioning freelance business by now, but I don’t even have a fully-functioning website.  As I talked to my boyfriend about that website, my responses to his questions about the specifics of it grew shorter and shorter until my temper fuse blew and I was screaming at him over the leads that had fizzled out, the approaching six-month cut-off date for receiving unemployment benefits, the design concept that wasn’t clear over the phone, the computer problems that prevented him from seeing the examples I had expected him to look at the previous night, and anything else I could think of that he couldn’t control.  He’s endured a lot with me and really didn’t deserve that.

The second wasn’t a meltdown, just a wave of sadness when I should’ve gone the congratulatory route.  It occurred Tuesday night via text with one of my best friends.  This incident deserves a little bit of background info: Fortune graces this friend of mine in every facet of her life.  She seems to walk around with her own personal little sunbeam above her head. She wanted to attend a graduate school that accepts about 3% of applicants; she got in. She moved to one of the most expensive cities on the planet; she arrived just when a friend of a friend desperately needed to unload his spacious condo, and would rent it out at about 75% off the going rate. She sacrificed potential job opportunities for the sake of a long-term relationship that ended; she relocated to a city with an endless supply of openings in her field. She has chronic health issues; the debt is canceled on most of the medical bills. If someone tripped her, she would fall into a bottomless pit of blessings.

So of course, in this text conversation, she told me about a new job offer.  This was an offer the company had previously extended to someone else, but for whatever reason, that person didn’t work out.  This was in addition to the potential job she had told me about on Saturday. That day, she said she had been redefining her goals and, lo and behold, someone thinking of bringing the same type of organization to her city that she was thinking of starting contacted her and wanted to talk about a paid position. On Saturday, I was happy for her, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Why not me?” Or more like, “When will it happen for me?” On Tuesday, I couldn’t make it to happiness.  I offered a simple “congrats” and changed the subject to the reason I had initiated the text conversation.

The final meltdown was Wednesday, when the “when” question became “what if …”  I ran into someone who had been laid off at the same time that I was.  She had found a new job.  When she described the job she would be doing, it sounded very similar to one I had heard about but didn’t go after.  I can’t be sure; my requests for more information about the job were always met with vague replies, which was the main reason why I didn’t apply.  Another reason was not wanting to stray too far away from the fields of writing, marketing, and communications.  I’m fairly sure the job didn’t involve any of the above.  The salary she revealed was also much higher than I had assumed the vague job would offer, but still, what if I had passed on a good opportunity?  What if I had applied and been interviewed and offered the job and I had accepted?  What if I could have found interesting stories to chronicle in a future stage play or blockbuster?  What if nothing else comes along soon?

My boyfriend had a great answer for me: “You don’t know, and even if you did, you can’t change it.  All you can do is move forward.  … Things will work out; they always do.”

He’s right, of course, although I sometimes think I put myself in too passive a role.  Waiting on the things to happen instead of making them happen implies some sort of cosmic intervention, as though the stars must perfectly align at the moment the gods wake up in a good mood.  While I wouldn’t go to that extreme, I would say that timing is important.  Had my friend moved to the big city one week later, her rent would have been as overpriced as everyone else’s.  Had I been more consistent with and passionate about my current style of writing before the advertising and media industry cut over 65,000 jobs and newspaper subscriptions declined, I would probably still be jobless, but I might have more freelance doors open to me now.

This morning, at the end of my first yoga practice in months, I meditated on some of my pastor’s observations from Wednesday’s bible study.  Moses was passionate enough to kill for a cause.  He had misdirected passion, but his passion made him highly usable.  He fled after the crime and then spent forty years in the wilderness with sheep, learning how to care for them and for himself in such conditions, not knowing that he would spend forty years leading people through the wilderness and caring for them, but being prepared for the experience all the same.

I’m pretty sure I have usable passion.  I just hope I’m a faster learner than Moses.

© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.



Filed under Mental & Emotional Health, Unemployment

2 responses to “Are you really that happy living life laid off?

  1. Your season is coming…Hold on and keep the faith!!!

  2. Again, beautiful post. And it sounds like you should really hold on to that boyfriend of yours. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

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