Sometimes I think about my life at 26 years old and I feel pretty good about it. After all, I can’t say there’s anything I can justifiably complain about. I’ve got my health, I’ve got a great network of family and friends, plenty of hobbies, and a full-time job with health benefits that allows me to live pretty comfortably on my own.
Err – well, scratch that last one.
On Valentine’s Day, I woke up and got myself ready for work. Knowing I wouldn’t be celebrating the holiday the same way others might be able to, I looked forward to the opportunity to keep myself occupied at work.
That didn’t quite work out so well. I was in the building no more than an hour when my boss called me to his office. Basically, the company decided to cut my job in half – for budgetary reasons, of course. While I could have left and most likely collected unemployment, I decided to keep the 20-hour position offered to me while I work out my options to avoid total unemployment.
In the three years I’ve been with this company, a daily newspaper in Connecticut that covers four towns, I’ve skated through quite a bit of belt-tightening unscathed. In the weekly newspaper department, where my job is, our workforce has dwindled pretty significantly. So I was actually surprised I’d made it this far.
Now, while my boss was talking to me, I tried to stay serious. The paper is struggling and it felt wrong to sit there with a shit-eating grin on my face like I didn’t really care about what was happening to me (especially if I was going to keep working there). But if I’m going to be completely honest, I did not like my job and I had been actively working to find my way out of that place for a while. If anything, I saw this as an open door and a kick in the pants. I felt like the world was open to me again, and the realization that I was no longer chained down by what felt like a dead-end was a particularly euphoric moment for me.
A lot of people don’t handle this situation the same way as me. And I realize that getting laid off when you’re 26 and single is a bit different than getting laid off when you’re middle-aged with a family to care for and a mortgage to pay off, among other things. Just the same, that only makes me realize what a grand opportunity this is.
Some people don’t even like to say they’ve lost their job because it elicits feelings of embarrassment and shame. But me being me, I went on Facebook and announced it to my entire newsfeed and proceeded to make fun of the situation. People left their sympathetic comments, of course, and thank you to those who did show their concern. But whenever people ask me how I’m doing, or how I’m taking it, I smile and tell them I’m just fine, and it’s not forced at all. I mean, when I think about it, how could I be sad about moving forward? Isn’t that all this is? Moving on and marching forward?
Recently, I would think of my life and wonder what I was really doing with it. I may have been leaps and bounds ahead of other 26-year-olds, but just the same, something felt off.
I was miserable at my job. Miserable enough to the point where I had trouble doing it. Shameful, yes, and embarrassing to admit as well, but after a while it got hard to come into work and write about the same things again and again. I found myself writing stories about the same annual events, year after year, thinking to myself hopefully it will be the last time I have to write a stupid story about this stupid festival or whatever stupid thing it happened to be.
I even came close to quitting at one point, completely ready to surrender and just start over, regardless of the consequences. Like, things really sucked there for a while.
Now I’ve got a whole different set of problems on my plate, but every morning I wake up with a smile, mostly because I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat again. Also because I get to hang out in my sweatpants all day and work from home.
That’s right: sweatpants. All day.
Shopcake has had some interesting experiences in her life, and can’t wait to share them all with you. Making you laugh is important to her, but if she makes you stroke your chin and look towards the sky, deep in thought, she’ll chalk it up as a victory.