Losing your job…a gift or a curse? It just might be the gift of inspiration. It is very rare to have some time in your life to figure it all out with a safety net like an unemployment check. I come across so many people who have an illness or have something happen in their lives that brings unexpected sadness. Yet they soldier on, one person I know even saying, “this disease is my blessing in disguise.” I always marveled at that ability to take a bad situation and to turn it for the positive. When you have lost your job and in turn your professional identity, it is hard to positive.
But you begin to realize that in every situation in life, unemployment included, you can become a victim or a survivor. In these hard times of “chronic unemployment” where people are getting discouraged and just dropping out of the job force, it is often a missed opportunity to create your own job or your own path to follow. For a while, I used my talents to create a small part-time business, Nanny On Call. I used my love of children to take the opportunity to help out others who needed the help while giving myself the time to look for a new career opportunity….and to stay fulfilled. I was able to job-hunt and really explore the different things I liked to do while searching for a job that would fit with the things I excel at. I found meaning in being with children and to take a step back and make life simpler and to see it through the wide-eyes of children–no judgement, no assumptions, no baggage.
I also volunteered, because being with people and helping people was something that was important to me, job or no job. More companies really need to take volunteer work into consideration when hiring candidates. The love and passion for a cause where someone does the job “for free” as a volunteer, can really give employers a gauge of the level of commitment a person is willing to invest. I had realized long before I lost my job that I really was enjoying the child care I was doing and the volunteer work much more than my “real job”. The gift of unemployment gave many other gifts—the insight to seek work in a job where I dealt one on one with people each day, the need to make a difference, and the gift of having people care when I showed up to help.
It always sounds corny when people ask, “what is your passion?” But without passion, we tend to lose faith and become the victims and not the survivors. Volunteering helped me survive. I soldiered on and came in with my A-game, my positive attitude and with the need to create meaning even without a paycheck. I treated my volunteer work no differently than I did a paid job–I treated it with respect, I worked hard, and I left at the end of the day knowing that a job well done always has meaning and importance. Today I work at the same nonprofit I volunteered at. The best gift of all.