After reading the ‘Your Turn’ submission in the winter 2009 Rag magazine, I began thinking about the topic Loss and Appreciation. There are so many different types of loss, each stressing us out and taking a toll in a different way. If we’re very lucky, and are paying attention, maybe eventually we can use our losses to grow personally even though the event that initiates the growth is painful.
When my position as a human resource manager was terminated due to restructuring 2 years ago, I was devastated. In my mind it was the position from which I would eventually retire; to be suddenly cut adrift was a shock, to say the least. All loss propels us through the five stages of grief, as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler Ross; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. (or, DABDA as I like to call it when I’m in an acronym-y kind of mood!)
A really interesting thing that I’ve observed is that although I have technically been working for much of the time since losing that position, in my mind, I have been unemployed for two years. The jobs I have held in the interim were short term contract positions (and one 6-month stretch of retraining) but without ONE job, ONE employer, and ONE steady pay cheque, apparently I consider myself unemployed. Talk about being behind the times!! This is the portion of the program I think we could safely label DENIAL.
Having been told many times that I’m overqualified, I composed several different resumes; one of which actually reflects my experience and education, one of which I call the ‘dumbed down’ version, and then there’s the middle of the road one which contains the truth but not the whole truth. It’s kind of like a goldilocks scenario; one is hard, one is soft, and one is just right!! At least that’s the theory. As a person of integrity who highly values honesty it really frosts me to be involved in this type of game but I will do what I have to do to work and support myself. Kind of a combination of ANGER and BARGAINING there.
Recently, I find myself at the door of stage 4 – DEPRESSION. After decades of cultivating and maintaining an optimistic outlook on life, over time, and after all my best (yet failed) efforts to find full time employment, there are days now when I don’t even get out of my pyjamas. Too often I think, ‘what’s the use’? I’ve begun self medicating with cookies, yummy little mini-cupcakes, and, yes, the hard stuff, ice cream!! At this point if someone does call me to come in for an interview, I’m going to have to tailor my curtains into some kind of outfit (a la Scarlett O’Hara) because it’s for sure my professional office wear is simply going to be too tight!!
Now, there’s a relatively popular theory which goes something like this; “Do that which you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”. The implication behind that is, I feel, that if one is engaged in an activity which feels compelling, seems fascinating and is a joy to occupy yourself with, the compensation will just naturally follow. Could this be true, d’ya suppose? Many people from Ellen Degeneres to Peter Legge, and from Wayne Dyer to Oprah have, at various times, indicated that this is how they function. What they do that has turned out to be massively successful is that which they love, and would happily do for free (hard, cold, economic realities aside of course) Could this be true for everyone? I don’t know for sure but it sounds as if it has possibilities. Maybe if I just accept that and continue writing my op ed pieces, research articles and short stories, reasonable monetary success will follow and I will have learned to appreciate that growth can arise from loss.