Losing Your Job to Live Your Dream

live your dream

I have never been one to watch the news. This isn’t because I hate it or that I’m depressed by it, although those would both be accurate assumptions. It’s because I don’t need to. Every night, it is my certain destiny to receive a call from my mother, who dictates a new list of Things I Should Know. The list, arriving with the same reliability as the morning sun and post-breakup weight gain, is one that my mother hopes will ignite paranoia – the kind that will keep me securely located inside my house.

Mom: “Have you ever heard of that Craigslist? I don’t even know what it is, but I guess it’s something to do with the internet.”

Me: “Yes, of course I have. So, how was your day?”

Mom: “Well, you don’t use it DO YOU? [as if it were some sort of risky, new diet pill] You know there’s a serial killer who’s been stalking women on there. It’s been all over the news.”

Me: “Mom. That could happen on any website. I’m not going to meet someone off the internet for goodness sakes. So, is dad feeling better?”

Mom: “Well, I’m just saying, they have ways. I’d sleep better if you just didn’t use it. Can you just tell me you won’t use it?

Me: “Okay, fine. I won’t use it.”

Mom: [sigh] “I knew it. I always said the Internet was going to be the downfall of society. Well, I’ve got to run – oh and don’t forget to avoid pistachios – they’re all infected with Salmonella. By the way, your dad is fine.”

With that being said, I had been clued in that we might be headed for economic “tough times.” Of course, being the product of a generation who has grown up with plasma TVs and Hummers, it never occurred to me that severe problems might actually materialize. Although my grandfathers may have told me long-winded stories about bread lines or storming Normandy Beach, they seemed merely out of touch, historical tales.

Nonetheless, with all the chatter surmounting, I thought it couldn’t hurt to take a brief inventory of my own situation. I had a stable banking job, where my boss was fond of me and I had also just received a promotion. I owned my home, which I could now comfortably afford. And as a result of my overwhelming fear of lengthy commitments, I had no children yet to care for. I was in pretty good shape, and as far as I knew, unicorns would continue to prance about my seemingly perfect life.

Speaking of my job, my boss was very fashion-forward. His shoes always matched the particular shade of leather on his belt, even if it was some obscure off-white color. Mesmerizing, really. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about how well-coordinated he was when he brought me into his office and told me it was my last day. And before I could say, “Wait, I didn’t know today was April 1st?” I was ushered out the back door like some sort of convict.

I was among the first of hundreds. Having never lost a job before, I remained in a constant state of astonishment for the better half of a week, until slowly making the transition into apathy. I stayed in my room with the blinds closed, wearing sweats for nearly a month. Every once in a while my fellow un-showered and jobless friends would pay me a visit. Slowly, we ate every ounce of Hamburger Helper and leftover holiday candy that I had previously hidden from myself in an attempt to get my body ready for summer. Apparently, I should never be in charge of hiding things because I found that stuff faster than my mom could toss me a Handy Wipe after touching a grocery cart. Every horrendously sappy and predictable chick flick in my garage sale box somehow made its way into my DVD player. Twice. In between movies, we would glance at each other briefly, to say, “Seriously?” and then quickly resume our silence. Every now and then, a conversation would take place:

Friend: “I really need a glass of wine.”

Me: “We can’t afford wine.”

Friend: “Not even the fake kind that comes in a box?”

Me: “Not even that.”

As the months accumulated, so did the internal questions. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the answer to all my questions was “yes.” Yes, I had seriously lost my job without warning and for no apparent reason. Although that discovery marked significant progress, it led only to Insomnia and panic-ridden thoughts of what I could have done better. Furthermore, what am I going to tell everyone? Later on, more pressing concerns arose. Was I going to lose my house? Will I have to file bankruptcy? Wait. Am I going to have to cancel my CABLE?! Then, in the midst of all those pending obstacles, came the most frightening of all discoveries: I was completely on my own.

Being a single woman, tip-toeing around a mystery milestone, I now had more to worry about than how I should appropriately address the question, “For craps sake, why aren’t you married yet?” without telling someone to jump off a short cliff. I was overwhelmed by all of the things my mind was trying make sense of. The job search in Illinois was anything but promising, and I found myself getting dizzy from the spiraling depression that had overtaken me. But depression, many times, is a part of the process – the path we must inevitably navigate when faced with a major change in our lives. The problem is that we all try to disguise how we feel as not to be deemed weak, ungrateful, or clinically insane. But those are real emotions, and you’re not the only one. Everyone says change is good, but when you’re in the midst of the change –that is a bunch of B.S.

Many, many Mondays and panic attacks later, I had an epiphany that I might actually be okay. Although parents often feel like their kids are never listening, luckily, mine kept talking anyway. Sandwiched in between pistachio warnings and the Craigslist serial killer crisis was valuable advice that I had managed to absorb including: don’t live outside your means and credit cards are a plastic manifestation of the Devil. Had these values not been instilled in me, I would not have been in the position to save my home, my credit, or my sanity.

As time kept passing, many things transformed: my lifestyle, my spending habits, and my attitude. Christmas presents from my mother even changed from cutesy picture frames and sequined pillows to toilet paper and Windex. But the best thing that came out of my loss and the depression that followed was the rekindling of my relationship with writing. It is, after all, the only thing I have ever truly loved, besides Johnny Depp, who has yet to respond to any one of my desperate attempts at a relationship. I’ll never understand what he sees in that perfect French model, who bore his nauseatingly beautiful children.

For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to pursue writing but never found the courage or more importantly, the time. Isn’t it ironic how we can never find time for the things that we can’t live without? Well, thanks to the economic crisis, I had endless time… and no excuses. The moment had come for me to move past the fears of rejection, the apathy, and the self pity to make use of this unlikely gift. The gift of time.

Harnessing all the guts I could find, I started applying for writing jobs. Oddly, I actually got some. Wait, what? But that was so much fun… why are they paying me? I was both perplexed and excited to think that I could possibly support myself doing what I loved. And today as I write this, nearly a year later, I can say that pursuing my life dream has gone better than I could have hoped for. Has it been a struggle? Absolutely. Is it still a struggle? Definitely. But there hasn’t been a solitary day when I didn’t wake up and thank God that I lost my job for no apparent reason. Truth be told, I hated it anyway.

And truth be told, there was a reason.

Photo by Per Ola Wiberg ~ Powi

17 thoughts on “Losing Your Job to Live Your Dream”

  1. Great and very inspiring story ,, we are never courageous enough to leave everything behind and go for the thing we love, but your story shows that sometimes we face some obstacles and we get depressed when they actually are very huge chances ,, which means that God always have a better plan for us and we much believe in this :-))
    i want to write a trackback post on this :D

  2. Haha – your mother is hilarious!
    I remember having conversations like that only a few years ago with my grandmother. It was the same way. Everything she ever hear (from the news), she would always blow it way out of proportion and thing that everything is bad and everyone is out to get her. :)

    Great story by the way! :)

  3. Excellent article and wonderful inspiring story Britteny. I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason — most often sending us a signal that room is being made for something bigger and/or better in our lives. It’s up to us to take action and take advantage of those opportunities, although getting over something lost is a process which needs it’s own room as well.

    You obviously have a real gift for writing — congratulations on your new direction. Best to you as you move into this new phase of your career.

    Andy Robinson

  4. This article came at the right time for me. I am going through the same experience as Britteny had and it certainly is a shock to be told there is no job for you. I have been asking myself for the past week, whether I should now spend quality time on my passion for music creation and developing my website http://www.selfgrowthproject.com. Absolutely loved the post which I am sure will help many others. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Same thing kinda happened to me…I discovered working from home = working less hard. So during my downtime, I actually started working on things I loved, which included writing. Granted, haven’t found a way to turn a buck that way yet, but the life is young.

  6. i empathize the mum bit
    i “lost” my job too, but because i got ill
    and for a while i got scared too with no income
    but oh wells, i’m on some savings, and i love what i do now – writing – when i have the energy
    so who knows, tomorrow i might be well again to appyl for a new job and actually love it

  7. I was wondering where you were going with this at some point, but I had to read right through to the end.

    Congratulations on making the most of what most people would call a bad situation.

    The whole “9 to 5” situation is a terrible place for most people to be, anyways.

  8. Very inspiring story! I find myself able to relate to you easily. I just graduated college and went through a break up that kinda left me depressed for a while but now what’s left is a lot of free time that i secretly always wanted anyway-time to work on my music which is my life and time to apply for jobs that really interest me. It’s good to know that i’m not alone :)…oh and i totally know what you mean about moms being a bit paranoid. my mom sounds a lot like yours! haha maybe its a mother thing

  9. Its really inspiring and motivating story . it really help me in my real life. i agree we should have take some risk to live our own life, whether it is in the shape of job or any thing else. The joy and happines are the sign of good life, and we people try to find it in money. Great work

  10. Very inspiring.

    I am finishing my last week at work. Finally got the courage to quit and have already completed 2 freelance writing orders :)

    Guest posts will be the next target I guess… :)

    Good luck!

  11. I loved your story! I had something else to do, but I couldn’t stop reading it. Your mom reminded me of my mom, too.

    I haven’t been able to find a “day job” for the past eight months, and I’m starting to realize that I’ve been given the time to do the things I can’t live without–music and writing.”

    Thanks for the inspiration.

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