It’s been a tough ten days.
After twenty-two years and seven months at my current (former) place of employment, I was laid off for “cost effectiveness.” The company was bought last May. The work didn’t change much with the transition; the culture was a bit different, more corporate, but I still came to work each day, fielded calls and emails from customers, and pretty much had good days. Nights were sometimes hectic, but that was always the case, since I was on-call between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. weekdays and all weekend. Despite those occasional emergencies, my job was quite satisfying; people called with problems and I solved them.
Now, I don’t have that “fix” any longer, and I’m forced to look for work and make ends meet. Each day is a minefield filled with anxiety, as I don’t know what to do with myself. Yes, I’ve applied for jobs. More than a dozen at last count. I haven’t heard back on any, and I’m not sure when I will. I’m doing chores around the house, which relieves some of the stress I’m feeling. Work truly is its own reward.
And while I’m writing stories and working on the book, that’s all spec work. Sure, writing for a living is a dream, and I’ve taught myself to see rejections as teachable moments. Story X didn’t connect with editor 5, and the trick was continuing to refine my submissions and continuing to send them out so I’m more visible and more likely to make connections. It’s still all just spec work, and spec work won’t pay the bills.
I’ve got to admire my peers who do this for a living. For one, they’ve got to have such confidence to trust in their abilities, to trust in their “entertainment value” and how it will appeal to readers, editors, and critics. Rejection is a possibility, but one they don’t contemplate. Not seriously, not consistently. Not with every letter, word, line.
Is it a matter of looking at this change in circumstance as an opportunity? Certainly. Attitude matters. Otherwise we wouldn’t have maxims like “always look on the bright side of life” or “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The question is how. Is it possible to just close your eyes, and imagine a future where you do X, Y, or Z, where you “just do it” and completely change your life?
I guess it depends on whether I can embrace the moment. I’ve spent close to half my life doing what I did until the moment I was let go. It’s not rock bottom, but it feels like one, because it is a turning point. That it was forced upon me doesn’t really matter. I can’t control what others did or didn’t do in bringing me to this point. I know — really and sincerely know — that isn’t going to be helpful. If I agonize over “what ifs” I’ll lose my mind.
So I’m closing my eyes and I’m taking a deep breath … que sera, sera … whatever will be, will be.