Friday, April 13, 2007

Jobless in Seattle

I was laid off yesterday.

Two months ago, I was pinching myself at my good fortune and today I'm unemployed. I'm still in a bit of shock, as I didn't expect the ax to fall so quickly, so definitively and so hard.

How did this happen? Well, it came down to this: once I hired a staff it became obvious that my position was superfluous. My contribution became both redundant and tenuous once a very high level Administrative Manager was hired to deal with budgets and administrative duties (a hiring mandate given to me) and once it became obvious that the Project Director would maintain just about full ownership of the project. A few weeks ago, I handed my 4-page job description to both my bosses and asked, "What on here is still mine to own?" And they both agreed that most of the duties and responsibilities were owned by, or at least shared heavily with, other positions.

The organization was generous with me as they ushered me out and adding anything more here would jeopardize the situation, so we'll just leave it at that. But it's sad and frustrating and very emotional. The work I'm most proud of is the hiring of an amazing staff -- a staff that I unfortunately won't be working with. That's the hardest part. The job itself wasn't creative in the least and had very little connection to actual school reform and activism, so in that way it really wasn't a fit.

Now what? Now I take some time to re-assess. What do I love? What do I do well? Where is my passion? How can I best contribute? What should I avoid? My bores me? What am I just not good at? How do I do what I love and make a living at it? Hell, if I didn't have to make a living and send three more kids to college, it'd be easy. I'd write those novels that are swimming around in my head. I'd write a book profiling 50-something women -- their lives, their fears, their dreams, their joys, their secrets. I'd travel and take that slice out of my life that I often dream about. ("For three months, take a slice out of your life, LIVE it, and then return to your life, no questions asked...")

Maybe it's time to focus on me for a while. I gained too much weight in the past year because I don't move enough and because I've been stress eating. I don't write enough -- or certainly enough of substance. I don't spend enough quality time with my husband. Maybe he and I should take a quick trip to Mazatlan. Or (and?) maybe I should find myself a cabin in the woods and just write and reflect and re-energize.

I need to look at this as an opportunity... because really -- it IS.

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Anonymous said...

Yes, it is an opportunity to be free and to really do what you'd like to do.

But still I can't believe that the organization you worked for didn't appreciate your terrific energy and dedication. It's shocking to me really and I'm sure that it's very emotional for you. Why couldn't you have been the one hired for one of the permanent positions!?

Then again, my husband, who retired in January, realizes now how all-consuming his job was and how many years flew by with his not having much time to do things he really enjoys doing.

Well, here's to your next adventure, whatever it is!

blackcrag said...

Ah, I'm sorry, Ladybug. There goes your great view. It sucks to have a job you were happy with taken away so soon.

The problem here, as I see it, isn't with you or what you want, but with the poition. The self-assessment you made going into this job is still valid. Something creative, something to do with education. And now you have some more HR skills to add to the resume! You have grown in a short time.

Are you going to get a good reference from this place? I don't see why not, as they let you go through poor planning on their part, not anything on your part.

You should ask them if they know of any jobs or postions going you'd be suited for.

Dixie said...

Carol, I'm so sorry. It all seems so unfair. You hire them a great staff and it ends up with you having to leave.

But I admire your attitude and I hope it brings you to a place you really want to be where your talents can shine.

Betsy said...

I'm so sorry to read this, Carol! I agree with Dixie-- it seems really unfair!

You were so inspired by this job and the experience, however-- am hoping it points you along the way to the next big adventure!

vailian said...

Go girl! There are great things ahead for you...

Anonymous said...

It is a shame we have to work. It is often the last thing we would choose to do. I love your idea of going off for several months and doing something completely different. Very few of us have that option (as you say, kids have to go to college, etc.). But I will tell you something. I have seen people lose jobs, be devastated by the turn of events, then do something else, maybe not earn the same money or whatever, but being totally fulfilled and turning a bad thing into a wonderful thing!

Carol said...

I don't normally do the post-a-comment-in-response-to-comments thing on my blog (though I like the idea), but in this case...

Thanks to everyone for your support! It means a great deal to me! (This stuff is hell on one's self esteem.) I have decided to really focus now on what I love (kids, media, education) and what I do well (product management and team building). I'll probably also hire a career counselor as well as have my resume and online materials re-focused to reflect "a new me." So yeah, I am determined to explore the view from the window that the slammed door opened.

Thanks again, all!


christina said...

I'm so sorry about this, Carol. But yes, maybe now's the time to take some more ME time. Hey, if you write a novel, I'll buy it. :-)

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