April 21, 2014

when is it time to go back to work full time?

Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to see what openings there might be at the last place I worked before being laid off. What I found surprised me – they currently have several openings in the department I worked – and got me thinking.

Do I want to work there again?

Am I ready to work full-time?
Will my son be okay going to daycare 5 days a week?

What’s going to happen where I work now?

Before I could answer these questions in my head, I wrote an email to my closest contact there. She was my first supervisor, someone I admire very much, and probably the closest I’ve come to having a mentor. I invited her to join me for lunch to catch up. The gears in my head have been turning ever since, and I spent last night trying desperately to sleep.

When it comes to my career, I’ve always been fairly casual on-the-job but very proactive in-between jobs. While that MO never bothered me in the past, I’ve come to understand that until recently I simply didn’t take my career very seriously. Sure, every job I’ve had has built on my experience, and I’ve never taken a professional step backward. But I also haven’t found a professional home despite my searching – someplace I could settle in and count on advancing periodically. With my last layoff, I finally learned that no matter how hard I try to do the best I can, and no matter how grateful I am, things can still slip through my fingers and leave me standing on a cliff faced with yet another chasm of unwanted change.

My coworkers at that time showed me an unexpected level of support, and expressed more sympathy for me than perhaps I felt for myself. After all, there was nothing I could have done; I was one of several let go who still carried a Temporary status and was therefore vulnerable to budgetary constraints. After the initial “This too will pass” attitude wore off, though, I was angry for a little while. I fought against the temptation to wallow in questions like “Why is it always me?” and “Why can't I find a professional home when others stay at their jobs for 20 years?”
My challenge was to let go; to stop trying to hold on to unpredictable things, pray for my situation, and do what’s right in front of me. In this case, it meant staging our condo for sale, connecting with other moms through church, buying a house and moving, and settling into the reality of another dream that finally came true. I was grateful for the time I had to dedicate to all these things, and when I knew after several months I’d either have to pull our son from daycare or get some kind of a job, God provided one that couldn’t have fit my situation more perfectly.

In three months, that perfect situation (my six-month contract) will end and I have no idea if I’ll be offered something more or if I’ll be starting over. So it makes sense to shake the career branches a bit and see what’s going on. In other words, the timing could be perfect yet again. But I don’t trust what I see, not really. So I’m training myself yet again to let go and let God, and do what’s in front of me.
Then there's the issue of how this would impact my family, and what I could do to make the most of work and home. I still have my son every Friday, and I try to make the most of that time even though it can be exhausting. It's hard to constantly juggle life's demands and never know when I'll be given another ball to juggle or when one will be taken away. So I am intentionally recognizing the gifts of the age he is while trying to make the most of my current schedule. If I'm being honest, another way to put it is to say I feel like I can never relax because everything is temporary. It's irritating and stressful.

My devotional this morning is right on target:

Matthew 6:34
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”