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My New Road

Yesterday I officially became unemployed. My severance ran out, Cobra kicked in, and the wifey and I stood staring at each other holding calculators and shaky, hopeful grins.

Three months ago I was given a choice from my employer – take half the pay immediately and you won’t be guaranteed a job come the end of the fiscal year, or take your full pay and benefits for three months and look for another job. After a weekend of sleepless nights and long discussions, the wifey and I chose the latter.

I’ve had one iron in the fire the whole time—a great job working for an organization that would allow me to rock a newly created position. I’ve worked with, and known, the executive director for a couple years and she is eager to bring me on. The only constraint thus far has been the internal bureaucracy requiring dozens of people to sign off on the job description and another dozen to oversee the posting of the job before it’s awarded to the “qualified candidate.”

Supposedly I’m to start work a week from today.

I’ve changed quite a bit over the past three months. I’ve spent a considerable amount time alone…in my home…on the phone…on the computer….but very little face time with people. I’ve seen my Achilles-heel. I’ve seen it look me dead in the eye with its “sexy come-hither” look. I’ve been angry as shit. I’ve been depressed. I’ve taken it out on my wife, my kids, my friends and family…myself.

I’ve drank too much, felt too sorry, looked for oblivious forces to blame it on such as…karma. I’ve looked back at my life and picked it apart… “what if I didn’t move to Chicago?” “What if I’d taken that job in North Carolina..?”

What if…

And at the end of the day, after all that wondering, I’m still here, in Chicago with my family and friends, about to start a new job after ONLY three months. I’m still here…in my life…not my life’s past…but my life now.

Where it is…right now.

And I’m so fortunate. I’m so lucky to be where I am. I’ve met more people than I care to have met who’ve been unemployed so much longer than I was.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with my new boss to talk further about the job and to begin signing paper work. Within a week or two I’ll be employed again, making a paycheck, benefits, and picking up the pieces. We’ll struggle to fill the short gap between paychecks, but we’re fortunate it’s only a short gap and confident it’ll work out.

But there’s still one thing that’s keeping me from fully enjoying the knowledge of this good fortune. It’s that I know I’ve changed. I’m not who I was three months ago. I’m not who I was two years ago. In fact, I have no fucking clue who I am right now. I feel like I’ve lost some type of identity, direction, path, or journey. I’ve lost something that I desperately need to recover.

I’ve always felt that our 30s were such a fickle time. The 20s it’s all about starting the career and finding that love. The 30s are all about, “OK, I’m in the career, I’ve got my love, maybe some kids on the way….” and then it all hits home. Like a cannon to the chest. You have no idea who you are…

I am fortunate. I have a phenomenal wife. I look in my kids’ eyes and I undoubtedly know they adore me. I have a job on the horizon. I am fortunate.

And so that will be my focus. Despite this nagging, empty feeling of self-purpose, I’ll funnel my energy and heart into family and my career.

I’ll do that, but not without ignoring the fact that this journey has absolutely ripped my chest open and given me front row seats to my soul and then handed me the keys along with the responsibility to choose my new road.

My new road…

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Reader Comments (28)

HUGE congratulations on the new job! Good luck in this new direction in your life and good luck figuring out who you are. I don't think it's something many people can answer, no matter what their age.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Metaphormosis is not easy, and it never comes when we are prepared for it.

But I feel confident that you are on the path to becoming a better, happier man. Finding a balance in your life of family and work and taking care of yourself.

So proud of how you handled the past three months friend. Looking forward to toasting with you all once you get your paperwork signed and official.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLotta

congrats! ::huggles::

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter@piggytailmommie

I'm really not trying to self promote on your site, but the minute I read this, I thought about the post I wrote a little while back, about the decades and how we are "supposed" to feel as we progress through them, as opposed to what actually happens. It doesn't answer any of your life questions, just relates on the level that we all feel the same way right now. Ummm, only with a lot of swearing, because that's how I roll. :-)

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWicked Shawn

Actually, take it from an Ancient and Wise (brought-on-by-experience) 40-something: none of us are who we were last month, last year, 5 years ago...10...20. And you can't really, truly know the person you are because do you already know what tomorrow will bring? Next week...month...year?? You just look at today, NOW. The person you are now, even if you have no idea. Because from now, you deal with each thing that hits you one step at at time. If you're running a marathon, is your soul focus on the finish line? Or are you looking ahead of you just as far as you can see? Your new job starts with the first step. That's all you have to take. Everything after that, is the start of a new learning curve. Call it On The Job Instruction Into Who The Heck I Can Become.

All the best hun. Grab it by the throat and well... you can figure out the rest ;)

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJabulani

It has been a twisted confusing stretch of your journey. I've no doubt you will find the answers you seek. Congradulations on the new job. Take a moment to breathe and pat yourself on the back. You've come through alot and very well I might add ;)

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStar

So excited for you that this new path is happening. My husband lost his job two years ago in April and I think we are still reeling after me going back to work, selling our house, me staying home again, and moving across the country twice. But it was actually good, we're so much stronger as a couple and family and we let go of so much that we thought defined us.

Proud of you and Wifey internet friend. You guys kept it together and made it better (better, better, better... sorry was listening to the Beatles this morning).

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate, aka guavalicious

Congrats on the new gig.

It's amazing how much of ourselves get wrapped up in what we do. In providing. In accomplishing. In using our minds. It's hard not knowing who you least in that sense. But hang in there because it seems like you will rediscover yourself soon.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaddy Geek Boy

Congrats on the new job! I was unemployed for a little over a year. I know what you mean about changing. I am a different person than I was before my extended unemployment. Some for the better (like I am better with my finances; having NO money will do that to you!) and some not so good. I have a job now...and the biggest change I have come to realize is..I truly appreciate my never before in my life. Good luck with your new endeavors.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarkwulfe

I feel you completely on this. I have been home for 3 YEARS now and I struggle with the same thing. I think (hope) once you get back on the horse it all starts to slip back into place. There is something very strange that comes from staying home for a extended length of time. I think that's what happens to people who get cabin fever and go crazy. Congrats on the new job and the great attitude toward the next chapter in your life.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersabreena

I'm glad you made it through the unemploymet storm. Even when it is short it causes great emotional havoc on ones life. Not to po po on your parade but I do hope this new job works out. Keep an eye out for things "falling through" but I'm sure you already are on the
look out for that. Being unemployed for sometime really does change people. I'm 24 and after graduating, with a wife and kid with no job I felt changed after our asses were saved from almost financial ruin. While
out of a job I always thought about what could have been done to put me in a better place in the past. We're happy for you and if you ever want to make that move to NC the falls and springs are always great!

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWes

Congratulations on taking the bold step with the three month option and on having a new position lined up so quickly and in such difficult economic times. Exciting times ahead I'm sure, good things come to good people. Delighted for you.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheshire Mum

I think we redefine ourselves almost every single day. There are constants, but there are also those things that lurk in our mind and compel us to do this or that, be they good or bad.

Always been a firm believer in there being some good in every bad. Out of this pretty traumatic time, you have been able to be around your family more. To feel their love and give yours. Can't beat that with a stick.

This new venture is another page in your life. There will be a lot more pages that will ultimately be your book. And keep this in mind, men typically are at their prime in the workforce when they are in their forties.

And you're in Chicago! That's one the most rockin' places to be, in my humble opinion.


March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNikkiMoi

Right there with you on the idea of not being the same person you were a few years ago. I have, fortunately, not been laid off from my job, but I still wrestle with the idea that, although my job is way cooler than most the office drones, I wish I was doing something different. Considering the economic situation the nation is in, how could I possibly be entertaining the idea of bailing on my job completely to pursue what I really want?

I'm an idiot, looking over the fence at the plush greenery wishing I was there. Thankfully, I have the support of a wife that's brave enough and smart enough to tell me how much of a fool I'd be to leave the job right now. It's not the right time, but it is a good time to start looking toward the future and what I can be doing to make the eventual transition.

Sorry went off on a tangent there. One thing I was thinking of when I started reading this post is how much you'd appreciate the Lemonade Movie if you haven't seen it already. Check it out. It'll bring a little bit of sunshine to the situation, if only for a little while...

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdave

You have no idea who I am, nor do I know you - but I found your blog and this post via Twitter.

I lost my job just about a year ago. It was scary, and honestly it's been the best move I've made. It's been hard, there's been stress, but right now I love what happened to me.

I ended up starting my own business, and I am loving every second of it. I do video/voiceover/screencasting and I can do the job anywhere. Typically I'm onsite at a client's location, but I've spent quite a bit of time in my home office as well.

Do me a favor and buy the book "Crush It" or the book "48 days to the job you love" and follow your passion - it doesn't feel like work when you love what you do!

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris B

I have no words of wisdom, though I'm older and most assuredly wiser ;) I'm glad for your new job---hope that you can find your groove again.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLojo

Good Luck to you~ You won't be leaving us, in the blogging world or twitter world, will you? Hope all goes well for you,

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara Broers

It's brilliant that you have a new job lined up, I'm chuffed for you. I just hope that it's one that gives you unrestricted internet access cos I for one would miss your tweets!
Good luck to you :-)

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergoolieman

I jumped off a metaphorical cliff in 1990 - almost 20 years ago. I was unemployed - though in my case by my own choice. The Record Exchange had been wonderful - and then....not so much. Other things were not what I had imagined them to be, either. It may sound corny - but I just kinda gave myself over to fate - jumped off that cliff and trusted that something soft - or at the very least - *interesting* - would be at the bottom. I was something other than what I had always been.

It sucked. It was dark. It was lonely. But damn - I wouldn't trade it for the world.

You've had some darkness too - and you're coming out of it - and you will go on to be something that you've never imagined. Something that you'll look back on years from now and say 'Damn - that was pretty sweet.' The kids will remember the snow forts and really cool stuff that you probably didn't even realize was going on. And you and Miss K will always remember how you pulled together - and became more than the sum of your parts.

You're an awesome dude, Poohead. And someday all of us down at Ye Olde will be sitting in the old folks home with our walkers and Depends and wicked cool false teeth talking about you fondly - bunny suit and all - saying - what an awesome thing that was when the Poohead up and moved to Chicago.....and we knew him when....

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermonitorkitty

Your honestly rocks. Before I get all personal, I think it's important to recognize we're close to the same age... A little background.. I was a stay-at-home mom for five years. Prior to that, I had an awesome career (although young) - promotions, awards, raises every 6 months. I had offers across the country. My first daughter was born (surprise!) and I couldn't bear to leave her. It felt all wrong. From that (mostly emotional) decision, came my decision to leave my career behind temporarily. Five years and a couple of kids later, I'm living in the town I grew up in (and said I would NEVER move back to), and I'm suddenly the bread winner. Shit. I'm also not ecstatic about what I'm doing... So, that said, you're not alone in your searching.

There's something urgent and worth recognizing about the internal conversations that we 30-somethings have right about now. Hell, they don't call it a "mid-life crisis" for nothing! Not that we're there 'cause we're not.. Ok, back to the point... NOW is a good time to ask the questions that you and I are both asking. We're asking them because somewhere in the chaos and the time between, we remember the hope we had for ourselves and the potential we know we still have.

So, here's to you and here's to me and all the other confused 30-somethings :)


March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenRBoyd

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