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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…