Not all anniversaries are created equal, like when it’s related to losing your job.
I never thought about losing my job and anniversary in the same sentence.
It seems like one of my most prevalent thoughts in my 50s is, “where does the time go?”
It was two years ago this week that I was sitting my office in downtown Toronto, working away, deep in thought, when I got an loud knock at my door. It was about 10:00 am. It startled me.
My manager leaned in and said, in an unusual tone of voice, “I need you in a meeting.”
Remember, I said “unusual.”
My manager and I had worked together for about 15 years as colleagues. He had only been promoted to management a few weeks earlier. We knew each other well and had a solid friendship.
And I knew that tone of his voice was odd.
I looked up at him and said, without skipping a beat, “Shit, I’m getting laid off.”
He couldn’t reply of course. Crazy, awkward corporate protocol.
So we started our walk.
“Where is this meeting?” I asked.
“In the Tower,” he replied. I knew what that meant. And boy, was it ever a L O N G, anxiety-filled walk to the complete other side of the building, with an elevator ride and everything.
“Who will be at this meeting?” I asked, knowing full well what he would say.
And so, we continued our weird, silent walk.
I only wish I would have had the wherewithal to break out into a Monty Python silly walk at this precise moment…it would have broken the tension and my kids would have been so proud of me, lol.
Can there be a cacophony of emotions? If not, I’m coining a new phrase. That’s how I felt – so many feelings. Fear, overwhelm, stress. And of course, confusion and anger about what I’d been led to believe about the organizational changes afoot. I always knew that working part-time made me vulnerable. I was low hanging fruit.
One more emotion was there….but it was very faint.
A glimmer of glee.
Very faint. Very hard to identify through the extremely loud pounding of my heart and blood rushing to my head.
But it was there.
We got to the room. I quickly identified who my “people” were in that room and was guided to sit between my two union reps. The other side of the table was loaded with the “other side”, quite appropriately. The HR person, my manager, the VP of our department.
The most compassionate gesture and meaningful moment happened right away when my friend and manager looked me straight in the eye and made a point of telling me that this had nothing to do with my performance.
I was grateful for that. I felt extremely vulnerable and alone.
What followed next was a lot of blah blah blah and specifics about the details of my layoff and my choices for how to proceed because I was in a union. It was really hard to focus. I almost laughed when they offered to pay for a taxi to get home, in case I couldn’t handle it emotionally.
Again, I felt that teeny, tiny glimmer of glee. I was like a little voice from Whoville, far, far away. I actually had a thought that I might be a bit happy. It didn’t really fit with what was going on and all of the other thoughts and feelings…but it was there.
On my drive home, it hit me.
The meeting in the Tower took place in the exact same room that I was interviewed in back in 1994.
I had come full circle with this job. Started and finished in the same room. With 19 years of life in between.
Was this the universe unfolding as it should?
It was at this moment in my car, driving home, that I decided to change my thoughts.
I had been given a gift.
The gift to dream.
I had definitely forgotten how to dream.
I wasn’t content in this job for at least 5 years. I explored other opportunities at my job, I worked with some professionals to start figuring out what else I could do. I looked at going back to school. The process had begun. But I had forgotten how to dream and it was so difficult to make progress.
My employer had taken something away, but also given me something huge.
How sad that I couldn’t do it for myself. I had let fear completely stop me. I had allowed five years to go by….so much valuable time. Time that I know just flies by. Like I’ve never seen it or experienced it before.
I also had a thought that it was self-indulgent to make a big change if I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do.
It was like a catch-22. I couldn’t focus on what I wanted to do, and because of that, I was too fearful to do anything. Except waste time. Why wasn’t I afraid to waste time? It was really hard for me to leave my job that was “fine” and had great benefits and vacation time. Couldn’t leave without an amazing plan. And I couldn’t figure it out.
Has that happened to you? Are you able to be really clear about what you want? Especially if you’ve been at a job for a long time? What thoughts do you have about why you are there? Are your thoughts serving you?
So this week is my DREAM-AVERSARY.
The anniversary of ME beginning to dream again.
Make new goals.
Accomplish new things.
Start living again, in sync with who I am today and what I get excited about in 2015.
I couldn’t be happier.
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