Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I thought it was me

After losing my job (again), my confidence was shot. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, experienced enough…you name it, I felt it. “Failure” sums it up pretty well.

Being unemployed, it’s hard to even face people sometimes. It’s hard to simply look them in the eye during a normal conversation. Are they judging me? Inevitability, that question is always asked: “What do you do?”

Normally, I try to avoid the question or talk my way around it. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Can I add that skill to my resume? I often try to keep my conversations short with new people so it doesn’t come up. However, most times that question just can’t be avoided because it is often the first thing asked after an introduction. It’s only natural to ask what others do. Sometimes it is conversation filler. Sometimes it can be more probing. Sometimes we are truly interested, or not. In many ways, we judge people by what they do.

How are the unemployed judged, especially by those who have never been unemployed? As a member of that distinguished class, I am probably not the right person to answer that question. On the flip side, I can say that no matter the situation I always feel judged for being unemployed and it is hard not feel ashamed. I’m told that I should not feel embarrassed because most of those things are just “out of my control”. I like to think I am in control of my own destiny…that the things I do mean something. The reality is that I am ashamed. Can I do more to help myself? Should I volunteer more? Can I even do more? Should I just do something…anything?

So, when people who don’t know that I’m unemployed ask that question, it just adds to my embarrassment. I either have to explain it or talk around it, which can be awkward. And it’s not their fault for asking either. It just is…

However, today I had a bittersweet chance to feel a little better about myself; a chance to regain some of that lost confidence. I received an unexpected email from my successor at my previous job. We’ve never met, nor have we ever interacted. I only knew his name because of a passing conversation while on the job. I learned that I got the job over him in the first place.

The email reads, “I saw on some papers that you may have worked here before. I can tell you that it is a very different place to work than any that I have worked for. My last day here is this Friday because evidently, I am not the perfect candidate either…..”

After a few short weeks on the job (which I’m sure also included a ton of unfulfilled promises), he was let go. That’s two people hired and let go in a span of four months. He reached out to me because I have literally been in his position. I know what it feels to have the world in front of you, only to have it unexpectedly ripped away.

Perhaps they are looking for a particular type of employee and we weren’t the answer. Ordinarily, I would agree that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to find the right fit for both sides. It’s equally important to be given a legitimate chance to succeed. This never happened. A clear pattern has emerged. What’s the point? Why waste our time?

The company was sold to me as a tight-knit family, especially since they only have a few employees. Was that just a bill of goods? In reality, I feel they only considered the “professional worker” and not the whole person. Maybe they are a family, but then I must have been the black sheep. And so must have my successor.

But, I am not just a professional. I take pride in my work, but that is only one part of the whole. I have a family to support. I have bills to pay. My life is not their trial. As a “family” company, that’s what they don’t get. We are not toys to play with and discard when bored.

Since I received that unexpected email today, I have felt completely conflicted. I may take solace in the fact that losing my job may have been beyond my control. It’s a little clearer now that I may have been a true victim of the fabled “it’s not you, it’s me” syndrome. It really might not have been me. I’ll take my small victory and move on. However, another person lost his job. It’s a sad day.


  1. ugh that sounds like such a shitty company! As embarrassing as it is, I tend to not pussyfoot around the fact that I am unemployed because I hope that someone I meet one of these days will have connections that will land me a job. If they don't know you're looking for work then they can't help! This story definitely shows that its not you. Is it bad if when I meet other unemployed ppl I feel a little better because I know its "the economy" and not my personal abilities?

  2. Being unemployed is very hard on a person, especially in today's economy. Keep your head held high, nothing to be embarrassed about. I understand its frustrating but remember, God has a plan for you. Trying to figure out that plan, well that's another story. You have a lot going for you. Chin up. "For every dark night, there is a brighter day."

    I look forward to reading your next blog.

  3. Thank you both for the inspirational words. The positive response I've received has really helped me through some of my difficult times. I agree that it is important to network with others. I have swallowed my pride on a number occasions to reach out to people. The truth is that people really just want to help. The altruism I've witnessed has been amazing. Just to know there are good people who want to help in any way certainly eases my situation. Again, thank you for your kind words! More to come soon!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.