I am writing this on what would have been the first day of my 17th school year. I have a lot of mixed feelings right now. According to my calculations I taught close to 4,000 students, maybe more, during that time. It is hard to wrap my head around those numbers. I try and think about where all that time went. I wonder where all those kids, now adults, are and what they are doing with their lives. I have a lot to reflect on and a lot to think about since I won’t be welcoming any new students this year, but the past three months have taught me several things.
It is awkward to explain and somewhat embarrassing to say I was let go, or fired, or laid off, or that my contract was not renewed due to budget cuts. Does anyone besides Donald Trump actually say “you’re fired”? I found there are quite a few euphemisms for being fired but regardless of how I say it, I feel like people will automatically assume that I did something wrong or wasn’t good at my job. I am happy to know that isn’t true. I’m also happy to know that I am in the ranks of people like Walt Disney, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Thomas Edison, who were all fired at some point during their careers.
I have always been a hard worker, a straight A student, go getter, over achiever, a doer. I aim to please. All. The. Time. For a long time, it never occurred to me that saying no was an option. I am glad I started saying NO to the extra stuff I wasn’t getting paid to do. In hindsight I learned that those extra things don’t matter in the end, and neither do you. You are immediately replaceable, an expendable resource. So say no, and take care of you.
After the shock wore off I kind of felt free until I realized that I still had to pay my bills. That was when a sense of urgency kicked in and really lit a fire under my ass to start thinking about what to do next. It has forced me to think about how I might use my other talents, gifts, skills and experience to create opportunities for myself.
In the meantime, it was summer, and that means it was time for a vacation. With an 8 week road trip under my belt, I now have a solid two months of experience to add to my resume – travel agent, master packer, cross country driver, tour guide, mediator of cranky kids, personal chef, chauffeur, French braid instructor, holder of all things, car radio DJ….the list goes on.
Opportunities come in the most random forms, but you must be tuned in. Casual conversations, chance encounters with strangers, or a 2 am social media post can turn up potential opportunities you never knew existed. It also turns out that a great many people in your life believe in you and are willing to help you figure it all out.
So, I am surviving unemployment for now just trying to find those BIGGER and better things everyone keeps promising me are right around the corner, because everything happens for a reason, and you only live once, so you should seize the day. Or whatever. Stay tuned my friends.