Let’s rewind to the end of May 2020.
I had been unemployed for almost a month, my sister was going through a really painful transition in her life, and I was at my breaking point. I called my therapist crying one night, and through a crazy whirlwind of events that I didn’t want to happen, somehow, I ended up in the hospital. I didn’t tell many people about it for a long time. Some of you may be reading about this for the first time. After that night, and a “breakup” with my therapist, I was feeling claustrophobic with immense anger and swelling depressing that bore so deep within me, I reverted to a reclusive state.
When I lost my job 18 months ago, I felt like I actually lost my identity. I think a lot of Americans feel this way. I would dread when I occasionally did meet new people and the inevitable question would come: “What do you do for work?”
“Well, I don’t.” Then I’d climb back up from my shame, clambering up the ladder of my ego to explain what I used to do, how I got laid off, and how I’ve been looking for work. All the while worried that my unemployment status was akin to the scarlet letter. That’s how deeply entrenched we are in our career lives—I was ashamed that I, one of millions, was laid off during an economic collapse, during the worst pandemic practically all of living population has known.
But there were silver linings. Beautiful silver linings started to peek through the murkiness of my shame and depression. For the last 18 months, without a job to occupy my daytime hours, I hung out with my dad most days. We became even closer than we were before, and when I was struggling with my missing identity, my dad and step-mother were there. I would help my dad with random projects around the house, we watched movies, and I’d sleepover and help them shovel during winter storms.
During that time, I also realized I liked driving around a lot more since there was less traffic on the road. I started to overcome more of my driving anxieties. So, I drove to visit my mom nearly every week. We’d have sleepovers and then watch Upstairs, Downstairs together. I also drove to go see her and Donna at Donna’s house and have sleepovers and hangouts there. We have spent so many hours in the garage or on the tiki deck laughing our asses off at Donna’s anecdotes of her times as a nurse or my mom’s digestive issues in public places.
The people I couldn’t see every day or week I talked to on the phone. I cultivated deeper personal connections with my sisters, with my family in Italy, and with so many friends. I may not have had a job that paid me money anymore, but I found something that was worthwhile on which to focus my attention: relationships.
Not all relationships have been positive, unfortunately. I tried to take a “vacation” last summer up to Maine for a few days, which ended horribly and unintentionally hurt a friend. I had a horrific time up there, ended up leaving a day early, because I was screamed at by an egomaniacal woman downstairs for literally breathing in the condo above hers and having the deck light on at midnight. In addition to this, I lost my best friend and arguably one of the greatest loves of my life. On the day of my hospital visit, he stopped talking to me and hasn’t since. I don’t even fully understand why he stopped talking to me, but I must assume it’s because my rage poured out at his absence during my traumatic event.
But there are silver linings.
I learned how NOT to treat people. I learned to be kinder and gentler with my words when I can. I learned to be less of a brat and a better version of myself.
After J and I broke off our engagement nine and a half years ago, I declared that I was a new version of myself: Amanda 2.0. This past year, I developed Amanda 3.0.
There are those defining moments that change things—forever transform you as a person. Mine took 18 months, but Amanda 3.0 believes these things:
- Although I lost relationships, I gained beautiful, deeper ones I didn’t know I’d find
- La famiglia è tutto (translated: family is everything)
- I am more than my job
Within those realizations is another silver lining: I am back with the colleagues I adore so much, doing a job I know I am amazing at, and I do feel like a chunk of my essence that was gone for so long has magically been put back.
I haven’t even been employed for a full month, and although there are snafus and technical issues with my laptop and my account that sporadically throw me into a frenzied state, I am so full of gratitude for having this bit of my life unveiled from its deeply shrouded hibernation.
I find myself goofily grinning all of the time now.
Yes, I am more than my job. Amanda 3.0 now knows that! Yet, I am ecstatic to use my growth and gained perspective from the previous 18 months to move forward into the future with the glimmer of those silver linings buttressing my journey.