The Agony and Ecstasy of Losing a Terrible Job

As a grocery store employee, I thought I was ok. It had already been 11 months and I still had a job, so, naturally, I figured things would be ok. And then I lost my job.

My immediate reaction was extreme panic. How would I pay bills? Live? Do anything at all? Where would I find another job? HOW would I find another job? The panic then receded into embarrassment. “Oh my God, I just lost my job. I am so happy we’re in a pandemic so I don’t have to face anybody.” There were plenty of tears. Then came the anger. They didn’t even do it at the beginning of the shift. They waited until the end of the day after I had already broken down the truck and put everything away. THE AUDACITY.

But then, after a bit of sleep, my mood started to shift. I began to realize that I was relieved. While I was certainly grateful to have an income, and I was actually quite good at the job, I didn’t like it. It was exhausting work, spending 8 hours a day standing up on concrete. Trust me when I say there is NO shoe or boot on the planet that makes that a pleasant experience. My coworkers were wonderful people, but the exhaustion and the stress made for a terrible environment full of grumpy, incredibly negative people. And the exhaustion of the job was only further exacerbated by the staffing issues that frequently lead to people working 6–7 days a week, 50–60 hours, usually with little to no breaks. And the hours were crap: 6:00 am every day. I had been going to bed at 8:00 for years, even before my kid even goes to sleep. And my husband and I worked opposite schedules so we never saw each other. Even outside of a pandemic, I had absolutely no life.

So now, here I am, with no job. And nothing this great has happened to me, other than, you know, getting married and giving birth and stuff. Seriously, this is great. I’ve been spending hours pouring over job listings on Indeed, and I’m saying no. It sounds ridiculous to say no to offers, but the truth is, I don’t want to do this retail thing anymore. I’m old and I’m tired. I’m looking for a change. I’m trying to finally decide what I want to be when I grow up.

I get sleep now. I have time for exercise. I can eat at regular times and eat healthy food. For the first time in years, my back doesn’t hurt. Neither do my feet or my legs. I do not have burns all over my arms from the chicken oven or the bakery rack. I feel healthier. I can actually go to the doctor. I couldn’t ever go before because asking for time off made me feel guilty. Remember the staffing issues? My house is clean. Our laundry is done. I feel like a human being again.

I’ve come to accept that not everyone is made for that kind of back-breaking work, and I’m definitely not one of them. So I’m looking to START a new career. I’ve been doing a lot of studying. I’m studying myself and trying to know who it is that I am and who it is that I want to be.

So who am I? I don’t entirely know yet, but I’m learning. I’m someone that loves to write. Maybe I should be a writer? Well, here I am: A WRITER! Unfortunately, this gig doesn’t pay nearly enough. I’ve now taken to researching how to be a paid writer. I’ve even applied to a few jobs as a copywriter. But that isn’t all that I want to do or be.

I know that I want to eventually work for myself. Maybe freelance is the thing for me? But again, I don’t know how that all works. RESEARCH! I’ve learned much about freelancing. You could set your own rates in this whole new “gig economy” setup, or you can find a traditional freelance position. The opportunities are limitless and, it appears, if you are incredibly driven and disciplined, you can set your own freelance business and watch it become quite lucrative.

I also love to travel and I LOVE to plan Disney vacations. So why not become a Disney Travel Planner? I have the basics, I just need the guidance and maybe some business connections to build a client base.

What I’ve come to learn is that I am not one thing. I don’t think anyone is really “one thing,” but many of us can at least find fulfillment in some form by being one thing. But I am not one of those people. I’ve been walking around in a cloud of misery for years, breaking my back for a low wage with no recognition or appreciation. I’m finished with that world. I want to be many things. I want to do many things. I want to do things that make me happy, not things that simply pay the bills, and if I can manage to find something that pays the bills AND makes me happy, I’ve hit the jackpot.

I’ve decided to ask for what I want and accept nothing less than I deserve. In the past, I’ve been quick to accept anything, simply because I need that job so desperately. Those days are no longer here. As scary as it is, I know this is what is best for me and my family.

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool. Follow me on Twitter @mrsDmanley

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