I’ve spent the better part of the last two months thinking through 2009 and all that happened throughout the year. It’s taken me that long to process and get some perspective on everything that happened. A couple of key events in 2010 have impacted how I view 2009 as well. All I can say is that the last 14 months have been about nothing but change in every area of my life. The changes have taught me a lot about myself – things I don’t think I knew before.
I had a little baby boy in my life a year ago and he’s grown into a little boy. Though he will always be my “baby”, there is nothing “baby” about him anymore. He is a boy with determination, stubbornness and intelligence that make me smile daily with pride. Every new word he says, every new game he plays, every new adventure he goes on all give me a thrill that this is my child growing up and learning so much! Is there anything at all more exciting than watching a child explore this world? It’s hard not to have a radical change in perspective when you get to see the world through your child’s eyes.
At the start of last year, I was on maternity leave, but within a couple of weeks, I was back at work full time. I had a job that I thought I was going to be in for the foreseeable future. It didn’t take long to realize that things had changed. Despite that I had no plans to leave, but I wasn’t enjoying my work anymore. When I was laid off in May, it was one of the worst experiences of my entire life but I can’t say I was surprised or even all that bothered to be leaving. My biggest fear was whether I could find a new job quickly enough to avoid the difficult circumstance of being forced to make other major changes in our life circumstances.
Being laid off for five months right on the heels of a year’s worth of reduced income due to maternity/parental leave was challenging, but we made it. On a bit of a whim, I applied for a job at a company that I’d long known but never really thought about working for. I didn’t get the job I applied for but was offered another position – one that we all felt was a better fit. Having been there now for almost 5 months, I can say I feel well-suited to do the job but it doesn’t give me quite the same sense of satisfaction that the work at my last job did. I haven’t figured out how I feel about that yet.
In a way, it’s good. I can leave my work at the office at the end of the day. But there isn’t as much opportunity for me to be creative and use some of my other valuable skills. That’s been hard for me to come to terms with, but I’m in the unique position of being on contract. So, I get to check out my employer for over a year while they check me out too - longest job interview ever! If I prove myself, I could end up with a permanent job offer or, at the very least, a strong, positive reference from a well-respected organization.
The role I’m in has reinforced some of the knowledge of myself I was gaining throughout the year. I have had to face a number of difficult situations that could have gone one of two ways – I could either lose my temper and let my anger and frustration reign free, telling them exactly what I thought without reservation. Or I could respond with dignity and grace. I hate confrontation. I always have and I probably always will. I’ve often used classic passive-aggressive techniques to avoid confrontation. Who doesn’t?
To be brutally honest, I only barely managed the dignity part of my layoff and, initially, I think it was only because I was in shock at how I was treated. By the end of my final week, I just wanted to be able to say that I truly took the high road and conducted myself with civility, respect and integrity – fulfilling my role right down to the very last day. Perhaps the experience helped me to deal with some of the situations I’ve found myself in since starting my new job. I’ve discovered a wealth of patience inside of me that I truly never knew existed before. Perhaps it was always there and becoming a mom has forced me to use it. Maybe it wasn’t there and I’ve just been forced to develop it. Who knows? I’ve learned that I can handle confrontation. I can face it head-on, keep my cool, stay rational and dignified.