Around this time a month ago, I was called into my supervisor’s office and told that my position was being eliminated due to advances in technology and the execs looking for areas where they could cut costs. Now, thankfully, I’d had a strong intuition that this was coming sooner or later, and was expecting it to be sooner rather than later, but being laid off is still a very unpleasant business. Especially so when you work in a particular field that requires all terminated employees to gather up all their things as soon as you finish with the exit interview and paperwork WHILE SOMEONE SUPERVISES.
This person, typically a higher-up, is required to escort you out of the building. In front of everyone. Many people I’ve worked with in the past have likened it to a walk of shame. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen others go through it, most always with no notice (and for no cause) and almost always resulting in varying degrees of bitterness and/or tears. I just assumed I would have a chance to make my own move to another position before my previous one was deemed obsolete – and I will spare the bitter details of why I felt like I’d have time to do so. What I can proudly say is I managed to impress the HR manager during the exit interview for taking the news with poise he said he rarely sees. I shed a few tears only when it came time to say goodbye to a couple of coworkers. Otherwise, I bottled it all up and sang, Que Sera Sera.
The extra dagger in the back is that my previous job had (still has) an opening for another position. It is a position I could have done. It is a position I qualify for, both in terms of education and experience. They’ve offered a similar position to others with the same amount of education and experience as me who were working in another position beforehand. I received no such offer. The job is there on the site, waiting to be filled. Because apparently something about me wasn’t good enough for them. It’s not exactly the kind of thing someone with clinically-low self-esteem takes well. It’s the kind of thing that validates all of my feelings of inadequacy and incompetence.
This “whatever will be, will be” attitude eventually wore off, shifting to numbness. The question, “What now?” began growing in my mind. Obviously, I immediately submitted applications for a few new positions. Then, I took to Google to read up on tips for dealing with this foreign situation I was in. One article turned into two into three into several more until my head swam and all seemed to be saying the same thing: If you don’t get another job quickly enough, it will become more and more difficult. And don’t even think about wasting time and money to go back to school in the interim because that will make you even less hirable. Such is the economy I find myself job-searching in.
As the days crept closer and closer to today, the first month mark, with no call backs from any job prospects my faithful frenemy, anxiety began to whisper in my ear, inviting my depression to come out and play. It’s a good thing I’m on medicine for both, or else I’d be much worse off right now than I am. All the same, here I am with no clue where I’m going, what I should do, how to do it, how I’ll pay bills, and if I’ll ever find steady employment again. All this at just thirty, thanks to a broken system that I can’t do much to fix.
Today also happens to be the birthday of late Hollywood legend Myrna Loy. Myrna Loy has been a favorite actress of mine since before I even had apprehensions about high school, let alone where I can find employment before all of my savings are depleted. Myrna was as beautiful and poised and charming as they come. Indulge my inner fangirl a moment while I say, she is truly one of my queens and everything I’ve ever learned about her – such as her belief that black people deserved not to be discriminated against and that black actors should not be degraded beyond the already degrading role of a maid/servant in films (aka, she typically demanded that any black characters in her films be written with intelligence and strength and not just for laughs) – the more I’ve come to love her. If you were to ask me if I would rather Myrna or her famous co-star William Powell, who was handsome, charming, etc. in his own right, I would say Myrna before you even finished the question.
So today I’m faced with two choices, worry about the future or celebrate a figure of the past. And since I’m me, I will take neither choice and create a third for myself. I will let the hard work, self-respect, perseverance, bold, and gracious light of Myrna Loy inspire me to emulate those things myself. If she could do it in a time where women weren’t supposed to be seen as anything more than housewives or harlots, then I can do it now.
And with a little additional help from my other queen, I will remember that the future is not mine to see.