We Interrupt This Broadcast

So two weeks ago (or so, I’m too lazy to check), I was assuming my next post was going to be the second post about my trip to Iceland. And then my somewhat “routine” existence exploded.

First, we’ve been researching and watching carefully out of the side of our eyes at the local real estate market. And a house popped up for sale in our neighborhood. So in the matter of a few hours we went from bystanders to mortgage pre-approval participants. 0 to 60 in short order. Suffice to say my “free time” and “mental energy” reserves were all redirected into the land of interest rates, loan types, deposits, 401K lending, and down-payments. It was exciting if a little harrowing. We live in a super competitive market and after viewing the house on our own we went back over the weekend to check out the open house. I’ve never seen that many people at an open house.

The property ended up with 11. ELEVEN offers. The winning offer’s escalation clause was dramatically over the list price. In hindsight, after the shock of the whole experience wore off, it was highly educational. We obviously, did NOT, end up getting the contract.

Which seems weirdly fortuitous, because 4 days later, I lost my job.
And so far I’m ok with it. It was… shocking but not a surprise. Which sounds contradictory but let me explain. I work for a startup. We were pushing really hard to turn our products/business into something profitable and we have a board of directors that are in place to make sure the investor’s money is being used wisely. So.. we had goals defined to meet within a year (which would be late June of this year), and things were improving but not fast. So I expected layoffs, but later… sometime in March.

Instead they opted to abandon our core product, to focus on the newer and potentially more lucrative product we just launched in November.  Which from a business standpoint, I understand, but it was still a dramatic move I didn’t see coming. As part of this they basically cut our organization in half. I was laid off along with 30 other people.

So… in some ways I feel like I was booted off of a potentially sinking ship. I am in excellent company (my colleagues are truly some of the most capable and intelligent people I know). And in the immediate (I’m talking under an hour) aftermath we were banding together. Someone put a group chat together, we now have an ex-employee Slack (team chat application) going. Several former coworkers reached out to offer to make introductions and get us in touch with hiring managers. I’ve been in touch with people nonstop since the hammer fell.

I’ve personally been offering resume support and have reviewed half a dozen resumes for my peers. It makes me feel helpful and like the positive energy that I’m putting out makes life a little easier for someone else, which is something I value.

R expressed his surprise at how I was immediately up and running. But to be honest it can’t be helped. I know I’ll process this all slowly, unconsciously. I loved my job. It was the first job that I had that I never had a day where I was just …over it. Tired sometimes, stressed, but literally every day of the nearly 3 years I was grateful. Glad to work with smart people, glad to be treated like an adult with support, respect, and autonomy. Something when I slow down, that I will be mourning in all sorts of ways. I just can’t right now.

Circumstances and my personality dictate that in a crisis, which hey… this very well is (unplanned unemployment is pretty traumatic, even if this is certainly not the first time I’ve been laid off) … I have to keep moving. So my feet hit the ground the afternoon I lost my job and I haven’t stopped moving since.

Being busy, being proactive, being supportive and helpful to my colleagues, I’m not going to lie, is leaving me feeling pretty optimistic. For now. Ask me again when the very short period of severance pay I have runs out. Let’s hope that hope holds.

 

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I don’t know – but that’s ok.

I don’t know where it’s coming from. Actually that’s inaccurate, it’s always kicking around upstairs, it’s just a matter of taking time to giving voice to what I’m thinking. I want to tread the careful barrier between usefully “blowholing” and thinking critically and writing as a useful form of self-evaluation and analysis, versus turning garden variety normal human stress into a giant mountain of oppressive bullshit.

Transition does this to people. It’s normal. Talking about it is normal. Thinking about it a lot is normal. Notice I didn’t say too much because really what is too much if you’re not walking face-first into a legitimate self-inflicted disorder.

I am in such a heavy engineering environment. I am out of my element but with each new job I guess I sift through the contents of my professional career and ask myself, what is my element? I mean how am I rounding the bend towards 40 and still completely up in the air about what I want to be doing. I have a decent length of professional continuity but in hindsight it feels like an accident. “And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?”  I feel like I’ve done things “right” atleast in protecting myself from ruin or having too disjointed of a resume. I put myself through school. I made what I wanted professionally happen. I used my skills and experience and education and found a way to marry those things into a path that so far, I have enjoyed. In hindsight it’s kind of amazing to me that I was able to actually do this. It seemed really abstract and complicated when I graduated 7 years ago. I feel like I decided to do something and was actually able to exert my will over the outcome. It’s kind of a big deal to me when I stop to savor it.

So without rehashing all of the crap I was rambling to M about last night basically I find myself in a new situation. It drives me to a lot of questions about the things I’m learning, what the motivation is, if I’m wired correctly for the type of environment I find myself in, if any of that even matters.

At times I miss my old job, but not because it was good AT ALL (parts of it were good, I feel like I did make the best of it and learned a lot…), only because it was familiar and I felt capable and confident about what I was doing, what I knew and my ability to contribute. It’s just that outside of the actual “work” it was a totally poisonous, negative, terrible environment. I am *very* glad to find myself in a situation now where the vast majority of my energy and thought and the stress I deal with is related to the “work” I’m learning about and how to do things and NOT on the mountain of politics and personal bullshit that seemed to completely overtake my last job. It was so unbelievably exhausting to be in that environment and have so little of your time spent on the work that you were supposed to be doing.

I guess the “key takeaway” from this ramble, for me ….is to stop beating myself up for not knowing what I don’t know. The people who hired me knew this. I did not falsely represent myself, my intelligence or my abilities. Not knowing how to code or the lingo or having the same background as the technical people here does not make me dumb or less capable. It has nothing to do with me being an intellectual equal. I am a smart capable person who has always found a way to thrive in any job I’ve found. I make friends, I make a point to be an asset, I learn things quickly (yes even on this large and varied of a scope) and I will be a useful and valuable member of the “team” so to speak once I have a better idea of what I’m doing. It does me and the people around me a huge disservice to spend any time disparaging myself for not knowing things. There isn’t anything wrong with that and I have got to stop thinking of it that way.

I have NEVER been the type of person who would want to waste time lying about my abilities or knowledge to save face, because I wanted to look knowledgeable, that’s stupid and unhelpful and will only be a wall between me and actually learning anything. What a sad self-defeating way to operate.

I can only be patient with myself and with the so far, really friendly and helpful people around me. The rest of all these large existential questions can wait. I’m enjoying it, I will learn things. There may be no massive lightbulb moment of “this is what I want to do exactly” and that’s ok. It’s ok that I don’t know. Everyone has to start from somewhere.