People say that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do think you can find reason in most situations if you try. After a certain turn of events this week, I’m sure of it.
If you’re one of the three people who read this blog regularly (hi, Mom!), you’ll remember a post from last spring in which I shared that I’d accepted a senior-level job at a national magazine. It was a feat I’d worked toward since the day I received my j-school diploma. My now-husband and I packed up our life and moved from Boston to Birmingham knowing precisely nothing about our new hometown and little of what my new job had in store.
Turns out, in a matter of months I started doubting for a number of reasons that this job and I were a great fit. Eventually, nervous butterflies that come with being a newbie turned into sickening bouts of the Sunday blues. Alone in my office, I endured episodes of anxiety that I was sure would split my skull. At home with my family for Christmas, instead of feeling the joy of my favorite holiday I felt weighed down and hazy, under the influence of unshakeable dread. Something had to change.
I told myself that, as a relatively smart and always-hardworking person, in time I would learn to navigate every facet of my job and that things would change, but the fact that I was struggling so much to do so made me wonder whether this was an undertaking I simply wasn’t wired for. It was too soon to leave, I thought, and we had uprooted everything so I could be here. At the same time, the idea of living this way indefinitely made me think things I’d be embarrassed now to admit. I was stuck.
At 9:30 in the morning on Thursday, though, everything did change. I sat in a chair across a desk from my boss and listened as she explained that a company-wide re-organization had led to the elimination of my job. I was eight days shy of the seven-month mark.
The first feeling to register was shock—I’d never been laid off before, nor had I been in and out of a job so fast. I felt foolish, wondering how many people above me had known my fate—and for how long—while I fought so hard to make peace with my situation. But in what feels like an inappropriate amount of time under those circumstances, it all gave way to a sensation I hadn’t experienced in ages: I felt calm. I was free. This was my chance to start fresh.
The three days since receiving that news have been a flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls with my family, friends, and connections in my network. I’ve received messages of support and encouragement—even some containing leads and offers of freelance work—from people ranging from best friends to contacts I hadn’t heard from in years. Some shared that they’d been through this themselves and are now happier for it. Some simply offered their sympathies. Regardless of their sentiments, I have felt supported and among friends. I’ve been reminded of my strengths. I’ve been reminded that happiness matters and that it’s okay to pursue it.
I probably learned more in those seven months than I have yet to fully realize. I’m grateful for the experience, and I’m certainly grateful for the friends I made throughout it. Above all else, I’m grateful for the perspective I gained during the whole process, and for the opportunity to employ it as I write this next chapter of my life.
I can’t remember the last time I felt so light, so relaxed, so hopeful, so determined, so grateful—so myself. And for now, that’s reason enough for me.