I've been following the series, Unemployment News, on Gawker for the last few months. It is, most typically, a bleak series of sadness and frustration. Of people who are struggling to find personal worth in paid employment. Of people who are not lazy but simply find themselves out of a job. There are so many people without work, who also feel without worth. I wonder, am I one of them?
Since our initial move to San Francisco in September 2010, I have not had full time employment. I was really awesome at my previous job, being an executive assistant for five years. For the two years we resided in the US, I was not "allowed to interrupt the flow of commerce." I happily resigned myself to copious amounts of TV watching and game playing for the first four months. That, and unpacking. And recovering from a stress-related illness. I found myself "retired" at 33 and that was strange. I tried offering my services in a volunteer capacity to several organizations, but it didn't work out. I focused my energies on baking and deriving my worth from the 'oohs' and 'ahhhs' from recipients. I maintained a small roster of Canadian coaching clients and loved coaching them.
When we moved from San Francisco to Dallas, I was tasked with packing and unpacking, yet again. This kept me busy. I still had some Canadian coaching clients and being able to contribute to the goodwill generated in this world was lovely. I focused my efforts on writing a book of snarky haikus. I attended a writers' conference. I was going to make the best of being in Texas.
And then life happens. A medical oversight. A potentially fatal mistake that nearly cost my husband his life, and most certainly altered his work relationships. So you focus on keeping your head above water. We returned to Canada and hoped that, after sufficient recovery, that the job market would embrace two highly intelligent, articulate and passionate people.
Even though I haven't worked for a formal employer in over two years, I don't feel unemployed. I feel like I'm a beginner at being self-employed. It isn't easy, and I wish that friends and family were more supportive in concrete terms (if any of them were in my shoes, I wouldn't hesitate to help), but in the end, I haven't lost my optimism. I like to think hubby and I have figured out that a big salary and a big apartment aren't the be all, end all. We're living within our small means, and really trying hard to pursue our dreams. Will there be moments of exasperation and desperation? There already have been. Will there be regrets? Of course but I don't have a time machine. Being an optimist isn't about being a Pollyanna. It's a choice I make about my perspective on life. To take on each challenge from the perspective of, there is growth here and what is it?
Yes, I live in optimism, but I also live in reality. There are many of us out there who wish we could express our worry, struggle, panic, sadness. And we don't. So here I am, expressing that I have my moments of worry, struggle, panic and sadness. And I know I'm not alone. Quite far from it. It is a scary world out there and meaning is what we make it to be. My optimism tells me that my meaning, my purpose in life, is to continue being me: silly, fun, spontaneous, creative, loving, kind, nurturing, surprising, awesome and that pretty soon, there will be people knocking on my door and emails in my box for people wanting to hire me as their coach, event speaker, workshop facilitator and Pampered Chef consultant. I won't always be a beginner at being self-employed.