After almost 19 years at a job doing work I loved, I was part of a “reduction in force” which means in one short 15 minute meeting I became unemployed. There have been some hard moments and #allthefeels — from those that have given me an unbelievable amount of support to the disappointment of those who have not reached out. But I’m not writing about the details of losing a job and becoming a stay at home mom (a secret wish of mine for years).
Instead, I want to tell you how ashamed I am. I’m ashamed I’m not more upset that I was laid off.
I loved what I did: I sold dreams. I developed marketing to recruit students to a college. I packaged dreams and aspirations and goals. I got to be part of the beginning of the adult lives of young people…and see them launch whole careers. I worked with a great team of creative, intelligent, fun people. The job part of my job was great. My teammates were unbelievably good. So, I didn’t even realize until I was not going to work every morning that I had lost myself along the way.
I think it happened so slowly, I didn’t even realize it. I stayed at a place I allowed to eat away at the very characteristics of me I strive every day to grow in my children: confidence, self worth, bravery, integrity, kindness, loyalty, creativity. I also didn’t realize: my kids were watching.
I believed staying in that job was best for my family. It paid well, it was convenient, the benefits were good, the vacation time was very generous, I was good at it, I was comfortable. We were comfortable. These were all huge pluses for my family, for our kids and our lives. I didn’t realize the small pieces of myself that were chipped away in the name of “doing what I thought was best.”
If you are wondering if the role you’re playing in your life right now is where you should be, ask yourself:
Am I being bullied?
Are those leading me or partnering with me kind?
How are our successes celebrated?
Am I appreciated?
If my opinion is different, is it welcome?
Do I believe in myself?
Am I free to stand up for those I believe in?
Do I like who I am?
Do I trust and respect those that give me feedback?
Am I proud of the role I play and the way it plays out?
Be honest with yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to change anything immediately. If it’s a job or a relationship or an organization you’re involved with – these answers matter. You don’t have to make changes right away. But if your role lacks kindness, you aren’t able to value yourself or you don’t feel valued, and you don’t feel respected, it’s time to think about changing things long term.
When I told my kids I no longer had my job, my 7-year-old said, “Maybe now you can work with people who are nice to you.” In truth, it was a very select few I allowed to crumble my self worth, but my boys heard me talking to my husband and they saw the days I couldn’t stop the tears.
What was I teaching them about standing up for myself? About self worth? About women in the work place? I spend a ridiculous amount of time building my kids up, growing them to be brave and focused on doing the kind thing. Choose Kind isn’t just a slogan from a movie, it’s my life’s goal for them…and yet, I was showing my kids that it was more important to have the right paycheck or stick with what was comfortable than stand up for myself, than fight to be appreciated and respected.
Adulting is hard. Being a constant example to these little sponges is challenging. In the middle of life and #allthethings it was impossible to see I was lost. The me I loved, the one I was proud of, the one who knew she was worth something, the girl who deserves to be appreciated, she was wandering around lost. And she didn’t even know it.
But I do now. I’m not going to lose her again. My kids…my family…I…deserve better.