I wasn’t really even sure what this evening’s blog was going to be about. One of the downfalls of having a designated “blogging night” in a very busy weekly schedule is there can be some undue pressure when inspiration isn’t striking. Even worse, when inspiration AND motivation aren’t striking at the same time.
Can I be honest? Because that’s my plan here. I’m in a serious funk. Over the past week, I have been on a slow and steady spiral downward into the vast black hole that is known as living completely inside my head. I know I’m due for a good cry. I just haven’t let it happen yet. But it’s there…bubbling to the surface – threatening to rear it’s ugly head during the worst possible time – like maybe a job interview? Wouldn’t that just be perfect?
After chatting with my mom this morning, she reminded me that these intense feelings are probably bottling up because I have lost an outlet that was doing my soul SO much good. As I mentioned one of my recent blogs, I participated in a 100 day video series where I openly and authentically evolved out loud in the public eye. You can read about it here. I completed my 100th day on May 9th with the full intention to continue making the videos but haven’t made one since. This could be an honest and actual reason I am struggling. I had grown to rely on those videos as an outlet for me to work through my emotions and feelings about…well….everything.
As I had mentioned in earlier blogs, I have been out of work since mid March. Well, on May 8th, my wife lost her job as well. This was completely unexpected. We truly thought she was going to be okay through this pandemic. The details surrounding this event are a blog for another time but for now, I’ll just note that this has left our household with two moms who are currently unemployed, a two year old, bills, and a mortgage. Couple this news with no longer making my videos, it’s no wonder I’ve turned back into the clam I used to be — bottling everything up and not sharing my emotions. I am stoic to a fault when it comes to this. I am fully aware that this is not a show of bravery but a show of one of my greatest weaknesses that I am working on. After evaluating my feelings prior to writing this blog, I have come to the conclusion that riding the corona-coaster can be broken down into three segments for me:
1). Living in Anxiety
2). Drowning In Parenthood
3). Fearing the Unknown
LIVING IN ANXIETY
First, let me start by saying I don’t define myself as a person with anxiety. I am a person who suffers from situational anxiety. About twenty years ago, I visited a psychiatrist who told me I had “general anxiety” and prescribed a gentle tranquilizer for me. You read that right. First visit. Tranquilizer. And there was nothing gentle about it. Needless to say, I stopped taking that quickly after I started. Over time and after years of experience, I really learned how to navigate myself. And this is what I’ve learned: Under normal circumstances, I am calm, cool, collected, positive, and looking to uplift others. Under intense and far between situations, the anxiety eats at me from the inside out SO viciously that it makes me physically ill. It takes away my appetite. It keeps me from sleeping. It forces me to disengage with the people and the beauty that truly make up my life. It pushes me inward and paralyzes my vocal cords so that I cannot speak about what I’m feeling to anyone — even those that I trust.
Since my wife lost her job, I have been living here — in this world of pure anxiety. Every Sunday night, a friend of mine who is a musician does a Facebook Live session of worship music. I tuned in for a little while tonight and, for the first time since I’ve been feeling this funk, I felt the tears start to want to rise and release. I, of course, stopped it from happening because that’s what I do but it’s also what inspired me to write this tonight.
For the record, this is not where I like to be. Anxiety and I are not friends. I tend to run the other direction when I see it in other people and I especially want to run when I see it in myself because it makes me so uncomfortable and it feels unbearable when it strikes.
DROWNING IN PARENTHOOD
My daughter is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. Isn’t it funny that parents feel the need to preface everything we’re about to say with a statement like that? Like so many others, I am drowning in parenthood right now. There is a brutal double-edged sword happening here. On the one side, I’m so eternally grateful to be able to spend this time with her…to love on her…to play with her…to watch her grow and experience life and to be with her every waking moment.
On the other side, I always knew I wanted to be a working mom. I wanted to know that I didn’t identify myself as “mom” alone. I actually love to work. I love having a career. I also love that my daughter goes to an amazing daycare. I love how much they have helped her grow and how much she loves her teachers and her friends. She has become who she is largely in part to their contribution to her life. One of the hardest days of my life since becoming a mother was dropping my girl off at daycare. But we found the perfect school and love how much she loves it. It was also a treat to miss her — to have full, exhausting, and rewarding days that always ended with her sweet face telling us about her day in school. We had to take her out of school because of this pandemic in mid March and that was a very tough decision to make. We are at the two month mark now and she has a number of different feelings about the matter that range from:
“I never want to leave my mommies again” to
“I guess I’m never going back to school?” (cue sad face) to
“I’m just going to stay with my mommies now” to
“I miss my friends and my teachers”
Talk about a freaking roller coaster ride!
Once I was laid off from my job, I decided that I was going to basically be the best damn teacher the world had ever seen. There were projects galore. Arts and crafts, recess, scheduled play-time, schedules, cooking together…you name it, I did it. There were lots of Facebook posts about how full and wonderful our days together were…. And now? Now, it basically feels like we’re all just trying to get through the day together. The Facebook posts are dwindling because it’s pretty much more of the same and I’m just freaking tired. And I think my daughter is, too.
Two things here before I continue: 1). Thank goodness for Disney Plus and 2). if I have to see one more episode of Llama Llama Red Pajama, I might cry…
And before we talk about screen time and who’s for and who’s against it…let’s just be reminded that I have an only child who is two. If I want a single solitary moment to have even the smallest conversation with my wife that consists of “Hey..do you want me to take the trash out?” – let alone anything of substance – our child needs to be watching something. If she’s not, she will surely be injecting herself into the conversation with thoughtful phrases like “Mommy and Mama!! Stop TALKING to each other!” (and no….that is not a joke).
Fearing The Unknown
I know this is where anxiety comes from. Projecting into the future or the unknown is a breeding ground for anxiety. It also means you are not living in the moment. I have felt my head go to scary places this past week due to fear of the unknown and have had to stop myself and say “What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel right NOW?” to force me back into the moment before I actually throw up. It works..but right now, it’s a lot of work to snap back to the now.
Feeding this fear of the unknown is the dreaded job hunt. Job searching has changed drastically since March when I was first laid off. As you may remember from my earlier blog about fighting for my dream job and the subsequent pause on that position, I’ve noticed the job market has gone through a subtle but significant change. Almost every interview that I felt positive about delivers no response to a follow up email. I’ve also noticed a steady decrease in the compensation offers since March for jobs that would normally pay more.
For example, I cannot begin to tell you how many positions I’ve seen for an office administrator offering between $13.00 and $16.00/hr but requiring a four-year degree. What exactly is going on here? Having been an office administrator for many years and never completing my degree program, I can tell you that experience and on the job training can get the job done and get it done well. Requiring a four-year degree and then only offering the bare-bones minimum compensation makes absolutely no sense to me!
But, I fear this is what we’re going to be looking at between now and through the end of this nightmare of a pandemic. There will be so many people out of work that the upper hand will belong to the hiring companies. Highly qualified individuals will likely find themselves settling for less than their credentials call for because they need to work. Once the financial assistance from the government ends (and it will), it will likely be similar to the scene in Titanic where everyone is clawing themselves to the end of the boat to be the last to sink — no matter the pay.
The problem with this is that those highly qualified people who took a job for less than what they should based on their experience and credentials will continue to look for better opportunities along the way. These people will eventually find better opportunities as things calm down and as a result, it’s almost like we’re looking at a double crash of the economy and job market.
So NOW What?
So what to do now? Personally, I am dedicated to getting myself out of this funk and continuing my plan to better myself during this pandemic. I have worked as the head of HR for the past 6 years. Before that, I recruited, hired, and trained employees for almost ten years. I have decided to take the leap and go for my SPHR-CP certification (Certified Professional in Senior Professional in Human Resources). I am so proud of my decision to do this. It was a pretty big investment for someone who is currently unemployed and it is literally like being back in college. But, I am loving diving back into the field of learning again.
Aside from that, I am currently enrolled in a four -month Project Management course that will yield a certification/diploma for me as a PMP (Project Management Professional).
This course has been incredibly exciting to me and also sad. Exciting because it puts a name and method to a lot of the things I’ve done throughout my career. Sad, because I’m being shown all the ways I could have been better for my previous employer(s). This program has helped me to see that I could have brought more to the table — maybe even saved some heartaches along the way–had I only had this information to begin with. But, I keep reminding myself to remember that we must not focus on the thoughts that pose the thought: “If I could turn back time….” , “What if?”, or “If only I had known..”
We must focus on the now and what we can bring to the future.
Outside of this I have purchased the training and certification for Excel and all of Microsoft Office. Even though I’ve been using this software for most of my career, I’ve never actually studied it and become an expert.
I am proud of the fact that everything I’ve learned has been hands-on. However, there is a confidence that comes with knowing it inside and out and saying “Hey..I’m expert here…Hire me.” There is also a confidence that comes with showing potential job opportunities that you aren’t wasting this time JUST binge-watching Netflix. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to show that you are not getting knocked down by a global pandemic…and that you are using this time to better yourself professionally. It’s a true caterpillar-to -butterfly story if you want it to be. I went into the Pandemic as an Executive Assistant with HR Management experience; But I came out a certified HR professional, a Project Management Professional, and an expert and certified in all things Microsoft Office. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
I am so excited that so many companies are offering these types of certifications at reduced rates to help people better themselves in a challenging economy with an over-saturated job market filled with highly qualified and talented people.
I have also started an Instagram connected to this blog to attract more readers and followers. Ultimately, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to be a writer. That is the dream. In the meantime, I also need to pay for my mortgage and support my family so I’d also like to be the best that I can be in my professional life as well.
My problem has been that this week of being engrossed in my own anxiety and worries have also inhibited me from that forward motion I am so excited about that will take me to the next level. As I sit here now, typing all of this out, I feel so much better and far less paralyzed just by speaking my truth. Perhaps blogging can also be an outlet for me outside of the videos I was doing daily for 100 days?
I know I’m not the only person feeling this way now. There’s a fine line between keeping your sanity in check and pushing yourself to go that extra mile in bettering yourself. Being a mom with a toddler out of school and also having dreams and goals you want to accomplish outside of motherhood is a challenge…especially during the two-year sleep regression. We officially sleep less now than we did when our daughter was an infant. I honestly feel that if I can just get and keep my “stuff “centered and stay focused, there’s a brighter light at the end of this tunnel that I’m just struggling to see right now.
Speaking frankly, this has been the darkest week of quarantine for me so far. I didn’t see it coming, but here we sit.
Our state is about to open up to a full Phase 1 tomorrow and I still don’t feel fully safe to engage with any of that. Since I can’t control any part of that plan, it’s becoming clear to me that I need to focus on what I CAN control. I thank you for reading this because it wasn’t at all planned out. This has literally been a stream of consciousness to get my thoughts out there in some format so that I can start dealing with them. Maybe that good cry will come soon and then I can get over myself and move on to the next steps in becoming who the universe is telling me I’m meant to be.
Any advice for me? I’m open and listening. How are you dealing with the unusual and unprecedented stressors that come with a global pandemic right now? Not only am I listening; But I thank you for reading!