05 July 2007

Unemployment kinda.....rocks, acutally.

This is the first time in my life, ever, that I have not had a plan. Through my school days, I was hyper-focused, got excellent grades, had my eyes firmly on the prize. Which was, of course, a good education, good job, fulfilling career at the end of the schooling.

I structured my high school curriculum around my desire to be an exchange student, having almost every requirement needed to graduate in Oh-hi-ia finished by the end of my 10th grade year. What few requirements weren't "done" at the end of my sophomore year the administration assured me that they would count either classes in Sweden as credit, or that I could easily finish them my senior year of high school.

Overseas, I focused on learning the language, being the "best" exchange student that I knew, the example held up to other exchanges as in "Why can't you be more like Lucy?" Obnoxious, I know that now, but my drive and desire to be #1 has always been a big part of who I am.

When I came home to the states, reluctantly, because I loved Europe and wanted to stay, I skipped my senior year of high school and started college immediately. I was in such a hurry, to grow up, to get on with my life, to be an adult, to be out on my own and working full-time. If I could talk to that girl now...I'd tell her to slow down a bit. But hindsight is 20/20, and a time-machine has not been invented yet.

It took me a while to finish up my college career, but that isn't because I wasn't a focused student, it was because of the dizzying array of options available to me at University. I took a little of this, a little of that, ending up with minors in German, Accounting, and Psychology, because I kept taking classes in each that interested me, even though they weren't my major.

Once out in the working world, I discovered that I didn't really like working full time, but then, really, who does? And part time employment doesn't really pay the bills, so what choice do we all have? Not much of one. At the bank, I worked on climbing the corporate ladder, and by the time I left there, I was on track to be an AVP, assistant vice-president, a title which the bank hands out like penny-candy, but it is the way up the ladder.

When I went to the non-profit job, I discovered a passion for the work, and I loved working there full-time. I loved the fact that I was doing different things every day, I loved having my fingers into every single pie there, I loved the challenge of keeping the doors of the place open. I said often that I was truly blessed to have a job that I loved so much. Even when it could be the most heartbreaking thing in the world, days when I drove home sobbing, it was still an amazing thing to be a part of.

And now it is over. Doors closed, a part of my past, relegated to "when I did thus-and-so." Which should be devastating, especially considering the depression that I've been fighting. But it isn't devastating, it is instead somewhat freeing, because at the end, it was a huge dragging suck, and it was making me miserable.

I'm at a loss without a plan, though. Everyone, every single person from casual acquaintances to lifelong friends has asked me, "What's next?" and I've responded, "I don't know. For the first time in my life I don't have a plan." And their come-back to me? Every single one of them? "That's good."

Is it? It certainly does not seem so to me. What the hell am I supposed to DO now? Babysis, most UN-helpfully, suggested that I have a baby. Um, no. Wait, let me say that again. No. Hell, no. Dear, merciful goddess, NO. Bad idea.

For me, it has been more important most of my working life to enjoy what I'm doing for a living than to be making huge amounts of money. Life is too short to hate what you do. But I don't know what I want to do. I don't know where to go. I don't know how to take the next step, and that is a bit more paralyzing than being unemployed is.

It is only Thursday of the first week of being unemployed. And there was a big holiday in the middle of the week, so it feels much more like I'm just on vacation. A vacation where DH is not also off, but nonetheless, it seems more like I've just got some time off. Each day this week, I've had a specific goal in mind, and not been able to accomplish much more than that one thing. Each day has slipped by so quickly that I look at the clock at 3 pm and wonder where the whole day has gone. How come no one has ever told me that NOT working is quite a lot of fun? I don't have to be up at an ungodly hour, I can spend hours at the gym if I so desire, I can go to the grocery store whenever I want, I can be on the computer until 3 am if I want to. This is incredible fun!

The downside of being one of the grown-ups is that no one can make these decisions for me about what my next step should be. One of the problems with the depression is that you're so concerned about making a "wrong" choice that the inertia can paralyze you. So I want someone to tell me what to do, but I also want that answer to be perfect, something I can get excited about, something that ignites my passion.

I'm trying very hard to not panic about it yet, but I do need to make some decisions and decide what is next. I have some time. But I have never had any patience.

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