After I graduated from college, it took me almost two years to find a full-time "real" job (I would later learn that no matter what ANYBODY said, working at Barnes and Noble was, indeed, a real job, and a pretty difficult and stressful one at that...seriously, work retail for five years...be Hermione at a Harry Potter Midnight Madness Release Party...be in charge of the children's department on a rainy Saturday afternoon...and you can handle absolutely ANYTHING that life throws at you. I know that now. People who have only worked at desk jobs will never get it.)
I absolutely began to measure my life's worth by the fact that I didn't have that "real" job I was looking so hard for. Old friends and teachers from high school and college would stop by the bookstore, see me working there, and question why I was "still there"...since I had a college degree. I started to hide when people I knew came in. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I felt like I had fallen so far behind everybody else.
And then I got a "real job." I loved my "real job." I did everything I was told, took ever demeaning order with a smile on my face, and then I lost that "real job", one rainy March afternoon.
(It's been nearly two years, and I still wish that I had that all on video tape. I was walking down 42nd Street, in the pouring rain, hysterically crying, juggling all my junk from my desk, and had tickets to see Les Miserables that night. I am pretty sure it does not get more pathetic than that.)
I would be lying if I said that I still wasn't a bit hurt from that entire experience.
I have seen my old boss, the one who sadly told me my job was being eliminated and watched me pack-up my desk...I could tell he felt bad. He didn't want to do it. He really did like me. But somebody had to go...and I was the last person they added to the staff...so I was the first one to get the axe.
Somehow, that thought didn't make it hurt any less.
Every time I WOULD see this boss, I would barely be able to make eye contact with him, even though he'd always attempt to give me a warm hello and ask me how I was doing. Seeing him just brought back too many sad memories, and I'd automatically just picture that pitiful young woman walking down the street in the pouring rain that day.
I saw him in the street last week, and I told myself, "I'm turning over a new leaf! I am going to give him a very cheery hello!"
I called-out, "Hello, (Former Boss' First Name)!" right in the middle of 8th Avenue where anybody could have seen me.
I was so proud of myself! I felt had I had come a long way.
It wasn't my boss.
(However, since he did have a very common first name, there's a good chance that random man actually DID have that name.)
It's the thought that counts after all, isn't it?
Over the past couple of months, a numerous amount of my friends have lost their jobs.
Some are taking it amazingly well (much better than I did). Others are not.
I am realizing that it is nothing personal...as hard as it is not to take it personally. When my boss told me I no longer had a job, it was impossible not to take it personally. "You have known me for a year. You have seen me five days a week for eight hours a day. And now you're telling me I have to leave and never come back."
It really does happen to everybody at some point, but I am finding all these lay-offs absolutely terrifying. I have always been a believer that "things happen for a reason"...but when everybody is getting laid-off, where exactly do you find another job?
I must keep repeating to myself what I wish I had known as a new graduate...a job is just a job. They come and go. At the end of the day, all that really DOES matter is that you're a good person, with friends and interests and dreams...and none of that can be contained in a cubicle.