It’s okay to leave the harbor

Do you all remember last week when I made a reference to my employment? Now that I’ve had the weekend to process the news and get past the emotionality from when I first learned it, I can share that I’ve been informed my job was affected in a round of layoffs at my company. I’m still employed until May 18th, and have two months to find a new position.

It’s been no secret work has been slow over the past couple of months, and LinkedIn has several updates about mass layoffs in 2023. I’m disappointed my job was affected, but admittedly, I’m not surprised at all. The sadness really comes from knowing I won’t be with my same coworkers for much longer. The camaraderie we all have is the best I’ve had in a long time, and I got used to sharing goofy stories and Marina updates in the group chat. I was hoping to stay at my company for a while and make a career there. Prior to the meeting with my manager I was trying to decide a good career timeline – would it be too soon to apply for another position within the company? Should I stay with my current position for about a year longer, or jump at another role if it comes up?

But then life seems to have other plans just when I think I’m comfortable.

It reminds me of a scene from Fiddler on the Roof, right after Tevye tells his daughter Tzeitel she doesn’t have to marry the butcher Lazar Wolf. With the butcher she would have been a rich man’s wife and had a better life, but her love and pledge were to Motel the tailor. He isn’t one to say no to his daughter and comments to Tzeitel (and the fourth wall), “It seems it was not ordained that you should have all the comforts of life.” It’s melodramatic, but that was one of the first things that came to mind on Thursday. As in, don’t bother settling in and thinking you’ve got it good Allison – the universe always has something else in store.

Granted, I can and have applied for internal positions, but my gut is telling me it might be smarter to prioritize finding an external role as soon as possible. After 31 years of being alive, I’ve definitely learned the gut doesn’t lie or goof up. And who’s to say I wouldn’t secure another position at my company for that to end up getting reduced? So it appears I’m going to have to steer the ship out of the harbor and sail for a bit.

I can stay within my industry. I can also use this as an opportunity to leave my field and try something different. I was thinking about one of my favorite college professors from my major. I had her my first semester freshman year and really admired her. She was passionate about her field, demanded a lot but it was always with good reason. She also made it plain she wasn’t a shrinking violet, which is why she didn’t came back the following year. A few of my cohorts who had other classes with her mentioned she was exceedingly tough, but we also had a few guys in the 100-level courses who complained because a professor would expect something from them. Frankly, I believe there was sexism involved since the male professors who had similar teaching styles didn’t seem to get the same complaints lodged against them. I’ve always felt sympathetic for her.

Then about ten years later I stumbled upon an article she wrote about how she got into the role she followed her professorship with. She admitted to being miserable as a teacher and decided to take an entry-level role in event planning for a cause she’s extremely passionate about. She moved to one of her favorite cities, she’s worked her way up the ladder and by all accounts is happier than she could have ever been at my college. What stood out to me was her stating she was 31 and completely changing fields. I’m 31. I’ve been in my current industry for over five years (not counting the period I was unemployed in 2021), but who’s really to say I have to stay in it? The fact I have my resident major lines license? The fact it’s been five years?

Mentally and emotionally it’s easy to fall into the mindset that because I’ve been doing X for so long I might as well stay at it. Or because this is another example I see a lot of: you’ve been in a relationship for 10 years – and have been miserable for 8 of them – so this is just going to be your lot. Why bother?

But I just can’t fall into that mindset. Sure the news is scary, but I’m not scared. I don’t need to be. I have options and I trust myself. I know who I am outside of a job and I know whose I am, so even if things don’t work out well or as I was hoping, I know it’s not some character deficiency or moral failing. It really is okay to leave the harbor.

There’s another person I thought of after learning the news: my ex. It’s a bit of a joke between Mom and I whenever something mildly stressful happens or there’s bad news, I’ll remark that “it’s a good thing (Ex’s name) isn’t here.” The reason being that my ex was anxious to the point of being neurotic, could turn ant hills and mole hills into mountains, and because he never had bad things happen to him – y’know, because he’s perfect – he genuinely could not fathom that crummy things can happen to people outside of their control.

I could already hear him in the back of my mind about the layoff – I told you this was going to happen! [Former employee he knows from my company] said they lay people off all the time! You only went there because your mother told you to. I knew this was going to happen. You should have listened to me. Why can’t you fix it? You should have gotten your real estate license (me note: he’s a realtor on the side and my having no interest in real estate was an issue.) I don’t understand, what did you do? Yada yada yada and yabba dabba doo.

Unfortunately the inner a-hole in my head who loves to catastrophize everything and shame me over irrelevant events has his voice, and every once in a while it’s a struggle to shut that little voice up. That was part of why I had a wine cooler with dinner on Thursday.

Then I woke up today and reminded myself that listening to people who won’t paint or get off the ladder is a terrible idea, and that nobody alive has ever gotten through life without a hiccup to work through. There’s a saying that I based my title off of. Paraphrased, it goes that ships can stay safe in the harbor, but they were never built to stay in the harbor. I’ve got an opportunity to take the ship out on the waters. New waters, unknown ones that could be choppy or wonderful. And no matter what, I can land on my feet again. God knows how many times I’ve had to do it before. I stopped keeping track.

So Reader-friends, this is where I’m at. I got some news, and now I’ve got some plans to make. Tomorrow is the first day of spring, coincidentally a season of rebirth and reinvention, of shedding the dark. Time to get out the life jacket for myself and the little cat-sized one for Marina. We are taking this ship out to sea.

Yours in writing and life,


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