Seeking Out Me

Seeking Out Me – a journey for the unemployed

Posted in life by Tracy on January 18, 2010

Recently, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I received the news that would put me in a category of millions of other Americans – unemployed. After ten years of service, I was told that my job was eliminated and that there was nothing that could be done.

Ironically, on the day I got the news, I came home to find in my personal inbox an opportunity to be a local SF Examiner Career Coach. Life really does have a sick sense of humor, doesn’t it?

Shocked, angry, disappointed it took me a few days to get over it. But then I was elated. For the first time in 26 years I was actually going to have off for more than a honeymoon or wedding or extended vacation. I was really going to have some real time off.

At first it didn’t seem like time off because it was over the holidays when it’s always super busy with family and holiday parties. No time to really relax and enjoy myself. I wanted to live in the moment. But I was in holiday mode.  Couldn’t wait for the new year to come.

Alas the new year has arrived and after all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays I finally have had time to relax! Only two weeks into the new year and I am asking myself repeatedly and very seriously, what is it that I want to do with my life? I don’t think that I’ve ever had this much solitude to think about that question so seriously and thoughtfully.

I’ve had a number of suggestions and opportunities, but nothing that really strikes my fancy.  More than one person suggested that I write a grant and pay myself a salaried position for my nonprofit. But I don’t feel right doing that and even if I could get a grant to pay a salary, well, I’d hire someone else so that I had more time for the things that I really wanted to do.

Which brings me back to the million dollar question which is, what do I want to do with my life?

I remember the selection process for college. I could have cared less about it. I just wanted to move out and be on my own. So eager to see the world. No one sat down with you and talked to you about what you wanted to be and which colleges would be right for that type of career. There was a giant main frame computer in the career center that you had to make an appointment to use. It spit out information on this giant dot matrix printer that was essentially useless. I knew, or thought I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer and I knew I wanted to move away. But other then that, no direction.

But I had a friend who wanted to be a lawyer and she had visited some colleges. Perhaps that was the way to go. She handed me an application and voila! I’m admitted early. Two years into it, I changed my mind about being a lawyer and wound up graduating barely by the skin of my teeth.

So many times since graduation I thought about going back to school for something that really interested me. I saw a forensics episode on T.V. with Dr. James Baden, who became famous in the O.J. Simpson case. It was interesting that I wanted to do go back to school for it. I took some biology classes and then I took a calculus class. That was it. Over. The teacher had the thickest Hungarian accent that I had no idea what he was saying when he said what later turned out to be the word “slope”.

Later I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer so I enrolled at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. I took two classes and then dropped it because I didn’t have a computer at home and everything I did had to be done at the computer lab on campus.

I finally got a job in the software business and I lasted there for four years. I learned a lot about software implementation, wrote software manuals, and learned how to essentially run a business.

A bad relationship and a year of living on my own and going through what I call my mid-life crisis at 29, I decided to find a job out of state. It was time to get the hell out of dodge.

In May of 2000 I found myself living in the San Francisco Bay Area working for another software company. It was great. I worked my way up the ladder to Director before getting my walking papers.

Alas, that brings me to the present.

Now that I am unemployed I need to file for unemployment. But filing for unemployment gave me angst for some reason. Not sure what it was exactly, but I am sure that it had something to do with being a statistic now; being a part of the 12.3% of Californians who are unemployed. Ugh.

So I went through the process. It’s all online now. How convenient! But mess up the online application and your application gets stuck for a very long time. My friend Lacey* who has been through the process 3 or 4 times now strongly recommended that I call the 800 number. But it’s always busy and I couldn’t be bothered dialing a number over and over again like I was trying to win a million dollar prize or something on the radio.

I finally convinced myself that since I had been paying into unemployment benefits for the past 26 years, I should probably take advantage of it before there is nothing left, like there will be of social security by the time I reach of age.

I applied successfully online and after the “holding” period I received the maximum benefit. Every two weeks I get a snail mail letter with my check that I have to fill out and send back in by the due date or else my check is delayed or worse, will not come at all. I find the form a little cumbersome because you have to hand write in everything. I have to list all of the jobs that I’ve applied for, including the name of the company, the job title, the address of the company, who I spoke to if anyone and the status. Thankfully there are only 15 spots or so on this form.  Because I have applied for a lot of jobs in the past few weeks.

I just received another unemployment letter from the EDD that says that I need to come down in person to a career counseling service on 1/25/10 or I risk losing my unemployment benefits. They don’t even say how long it is for, just that you need to be there by 9am sharp! After polling my friends I’ve learned that this is a necessary evil to attend this so I will.

In the mean time, I will continue to look for employment opportunities and figure out in all of my newly found free time what it is exactly that I want to do with my life. Now that I am grown up, what do I want to be, really?

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