Do you know what the sound of stress sounds like? It goes something like this- “I’m sorry, but we are letting you go.” Or “There has been a change in the organization…” OR “Due to COVID-19, your position is no longer available…” Have you heard these crushing words before?
I have heard them. After nearly seven years, I was laid off from my previous employer due to ‘organizational changes caused by COVID-19’. This post is not one of anger, sadness, or pity.
Let me explain.
Was it gut-wrenching? Yes. It was one of the most nauseating, anxiety-inducing, fear-producing, and tear-forming moments I can recall. But I know I am not alone in carrying this weight. 2020 has spiked unemployment, and these moments are happening to our friends, our family, and our coworkers.
At that moment, a door shut. Although it was dark, it formed a bright blinking light that would shine from behind another door. A door that I have been searching for, but I could not find a way to open it until now.
What Next? My New Path
Losing my job forced me down a path that I was too intimidated to walk down alone. Thoughts and emotions were spinning.
What do I want to do next?
How can I have a work/life balance?
What kind of NORMAL do I want back into my life?
What do I want for my family?
How do I want to spend my time?
What do I LOVE doing?
My new path brought endless soul searching, long talks with my husband, tear-filled conversations with my mom, and a racing mind wondering what could be waiting around the corner for me professionally.
I discovered that if I was HONEST with myself, I knew that I wanted MORE out of my next career.
I wanted to be fulfilled at the end of the day, and I wanted my time spent away from my family to be rewarding. If I had to be away from the people I loved during the day, then please let me find something that I LOVE doing so I can come home to them with perhaps a tired mind or body, but a HAPPY heart.
Search. Apply. Interview. Pray. Repeat.
During an unprecedented pandemic, job searching was difficult to say the least. My husband carried my broken spirit and cheered me on.
Sometimes our loved ones can see calmer waters even though we feel like we are drowning.
His steadiness was what I needed and the one motivating sentiment he told me almost daily was “bet on yourself.” Then one day, I spoke with a dear friend, and our conversation unlocked that ‘door.’ She has always been an unwavering supporter for me, but something kept us on the phone for longer that day- just long enough for me to clearly see my next step forward.
After college, I spent time subbing in the local schools and loved it. I come from a family of educators; both my parents taught (mom is almost to her 30th year!). My brother teaches and coaches, and my sister is graduating soon with an elementary education degree. Some would say education is in my blood.
Why was it so hard to see until now?
Maybe I needed a moment to drop me to my knees, to humble me to be able to see what I REALLY wanted out of my professional career. But more importantly, what I wanted out of LIFE. My mind needs creativity, thought-provoking conversation, quality experiences, and a balance of work and family. I wanted an opportunity that allowed me to lean in, learn, and grow. I could not wait to begin a career that I could pour into, get excited about, and love!
After weeks of dedicated studying, more prayer, and patience, I passed my certification test.
The next few weeks happened so quickly. The days before pre-planning, I received another memorable phone call, and it was one of opportunity and life changes. I was offered a position to teach! I will never forget that moment or the one that came nearly five months before it.
The opportunities we are given are not always the ones we ask for or think we need.
I choose to look at my lay off as just that- an opportunity. One that I needed to dig deep, have the hard moments and choose to look forward. I learned that my tribe is STRONG, and people believe in me. Find your tribe and lean into your support network. They will get you through the hard times.
If you know someone that may have been affected by a job change, call them and ask how you can help. Maybe it is networking, or maybe it is just a conversation for encouragement. You never know when someone needs to hear- ‘bet on yourself’ so then they can see their next door to walk through.
My first year of teaching is during a pandemic, but I am so thankful to be going to my desk every day. I can’t wait to see my students’bright eyes above their masks and have the opportunity to educate.
My mind, hands, and desk may be full, but you should see my heart.