I’ve been struggling with unemployment for over a year. I’ve been filling in as a Temp here and there, but nothing has really worked out.
Lemme back up a sec and mention that although I do enjoy a little mystery here and there, I’m not so good with uncertainty and my life has seemingly been filled with it since being laid off last summer. Turning fifty and starting over (in any capacity) is challenging, of course. It’s a reality check to be sure, and somewhat of a surreal experience. I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that I’ve worked some pretty shitty assignments and have eaten my share of humble pie. And you know what? That’s okay. Life is full of highs and lows and this frustrating limbo has become a daily reality for me, albeit a somewhat unpleasant one. Like most small children, I do better with structure and consistency. And snacks.
So here we are. I have landed a job in seasonal retail sales in a field I know nothing about. Now, while this shouldn’t sound all that daunting, I’m suddenly full of fear and self doubt. The confident accomplished woman inside of me thinks this is ridiculous, but unfortunately, she’s not the one I’ve been listening to. A wise friend of mine is fond of saying he has two small dudes that stand on each of his shoulders, much like the popular angel/devil scenario. However in his case, one of the them manufactures and sells bullshit, and the other one buys it. I totally get it.
I have all of the tools and resources to be a success in this role, and I know that once immersed in the position, I will intuitively know how to handle situations and be a solid asset. I’m a people person, and I’ve always found sales to be more about people than products, anyway. I know all of this but yet I’m still letting myself spiral into the unhealthy behavior of predicting and choreographing hypothetical ridiculous situations and disastrous outcomes. Now, some of this is legit, at least in my mind. I am literally decades older than most of my coworkers. This excites and terrifies me at the same time. I have always been lucky to have a vast age span in my friendships and we all know I have the maturity level of a 7th grade boy. However, in this situation I’m letting myself be intimidated by the likelihood that these millennials will know a helluva lot more about everything than I will.
Hey kids, gather ’round! LET ME TELL YOU THE ONE ABOUT THE CURLY FAX PAPER.
Oh, God. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, I’m doomed.
some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. delicious ambiguity . . .
I lamented this exact thing to my pal Carol yesterday and in typical Carol fashion, she predictably put her own spin on it, and gave me a brilliant analogy. “It’s like you’re on one of those rope bridges,” she said. “You’re mostly supported, but you can’t see the other side and it’s all wobbly and unsure, and your footing feels somewhat unstable. You’re pretty sure you’ll make it to the other side, though, but it’s genuinely scary. You just have to find your solid ground.”
Solid ground. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Isn’t that the desired end game? To feel sure of ourselves and steady and supported? Again, I don’t mind mystery, it’s the uncertainty I can do without. Life is uncertain. There’s always a first day of school. No one wakes up knowing exactly what the day holds.
So with that comfort and knowledge I will get in the shower. I will put on my proverbial big girl panties and face my day with a confident smile and willingness. In my final interview, they told me that they can teach me the skills, that I just have to have the will. The will to learn, and to be taught. The will to learn from my mistakes and not take things personally. Suit up and show up, folks, and the rest will fall into place. Life is change and if you’re lucky, growth. These are also the promises recovery has taught me, so I feel like I’m in a bit of a full circle moment, you know?
So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
And if I could do exactly that, without explosive diarrhea, well that would just be great.