“Do not panic. Do not make any big decisions for as long as you possibly can. The longer you can take out from the rat-race the better.”
I started looking for a new job a long time before I was made redundant, as I suspected redundancy was on the cards. I did not want to be unemploed. But I could find no jobs.
Once I was actually made redundant, I panicked and made a flurry of applications to any job that vaguely fitted my experience and interests, again none were successful. Eventually, I did get invited to a few interviews. I performed badly at almost all of them. I began to suspect that I was self-sabotaging.
Work consumes about 80% of our lives, so it’s natural for one’s identity and sense of self to be tied up in the details, the politics, the relationships, the power plays, the passions, frustrations, and stress of our jobs. It takes time and a little bit of effort to untangle oneself and find out who you are, without the status of work to define you.
A cycle, however long it is, allows a process to unfold, like the four seasons of a year. The length of a cycle can vary under the constructs of time. Each phase offering something different that allows the process to be completed. The gift of redundancy and prolonged unemployment is that it has allowed me the time to self-reflect, to look at the constructs of my life from alternative perspectives, and ask:
Who am I?
What do I really want?
Where do I see myself in 5 years?
Each stage of my unemployment has resulted in a shift in perspective, a change in understanding. Each part of a cycle of experience holds a gift, even if it doesn’t appear to at the time. Every experience matters. It all comes together to complete the whole…eventually. Every full cycle allows for a completion of sorts before a new cycle begins.
I have found myself cycling through a range of emotions. Pleasure in the small things: The beauty of sunsets, the abundance of flowers, the stars on a clear night, the warmth of the sun on my back as I go for my daily walks, the song birds singing, the gradual change of seasons, yoga in the morning, the scent of my neighbours garden wafting over the fence and finally the delight in the privilege of being unemployed and answerable to no one, (except for Bertie the cat).
But there is also fear of my insignificance, panic at my lack of forward trajectory. Alarm at my aimlessness, and lack of focus. An anxiety that I am not going to get myself together. Absolute frustration at not being able to think my way out of what currently feels like a full-stop in my life.
While the uncertainty of not having a specific path and plan has nearly broken me at times. I am beginning to realise that going through a full year without deciding on ‘my future’, is potentially a really good thing. I am so used to striving and fighting my way through life. To let things unfold at their own pace is really scary at times, but I believe that if I stay still and present enough, then the unfolding moment can be filled with insight and growth.
My headspace is totally different from where it was 6 months ago. By dint of circumstance, I am being forced to sit with an unknown future. My lack of clear objectives has meant that my motives, my desires, and my intentions are being allowed the time to reorganise and are in the process of coming back together. If I have the courage my life has the potential to burst into a totally new direction.
As I reflect on how I have navigated the past 6 months of this journey, I am still unsure how my life is going to come together, but I am witnessing a shift… who knows what my life will look like in 6 months.