Friday, April 16, 2010


As many times as I have been unemployed, I still have to work very hard at one aspect of it - the handling of other people's expectations.

When you are laid off, people want very deeply, urgently to be helpful. For some, this takes the form of "being there" for you on a fairly social level. For some, the need to advise becomes paramount - to offer, to assist by guidance.

Advice is never an easy thing to receive, and the real maneuvering issue when you're unemployed is figuring out the exact degree to which each person approaching you takes their own need to help personally. Some discount your expertise at the work of job hunting, and get fairly insistent with their "offerings" as to what you should be doing. Some are so emotionally invested in you that any rebuff of their good intentions becomes insult. Some have no experience of their own, but still consider their ideas to be necessary innovations to be implemented, and may get a bit stroppy if you don't agree (and comply).

Some, the best of them, are incredibly smart, and have done this before themselves - and therefore get a little offended if you go about things differently than they would do in your shoes.

It is remarkable, and unfortunate, how few people realize that, the shoes not being theirs means they do NOT get to set the path they go down. The terms people set for themselves shouldn't really be deal-breakers to friends whose terms are set by different standards and expectations.

I decided not long ago not to look back at my former employer for future employment. At least, not at this point in time.

I have no wish to burn bridges, but this bridge was dynamited from beneath me, and there is a major extent to which, entirely without malice, I feel that itself rather determines its viability for "my shoes" as it were. I don't want to work for these people. I didn't even before this: it wasn't *my job* alone I wanted to vacate, it was the company, and its culture - for which I sincerely believe myself to be a poor fit - overall. Two years of experience with them taught me two fundamental things. 1) I don't fit in there, and 2) what I have to offer, they don't desire to use.

Why, then, would I waste more of my own time - and, frankly, THEIRS - continuing to offer it? This isn't animosity. I actually felt a good deal of GUILT, before I lost my job, for "cheating" on it, for looking for another one. (I did it on my own time and with my own resources, but still, I was sneaking around as it were.)

I wanted out before they booted me. Their doing so only affords me much much more latitude to find a better position - for me.

I have said this in interviews, and it has to be attested as the truth, in the end: I am an extremely adaptable person. I can, for good or ill, "content" myself (that word), in fact, with things which perhaps aren't best for me. It makes me a useful tool for the right employer, but it also means I sometimes allow myself to accept less than satisfaction.

Which: no. Not this time. And that is the whole point.

Balancing other people's feelings while doing what is right for *myself* is a game of loss-cutting sometimes (if others count it a loss I maintain my own autonomy - it is theirs, not mine), and a game of politics all the time. And I so loathe politics. But I care for the feelings of those who are invested enough in my wellbeing to *care* about it.

It's funny, but for the most part the people most intimate in my life are not the advisors, either. The people closest to me either know my strength of will (heh) well enough, or respect me enough, not to second-guess me by way of offering guidance. It is people I've worked with, people I'm friendly with but not deeply emotionally involved with. It's people, frankly, who miss me at the old employers'. And those whose values are so very strong that they can't imagine someone like me would not naturally share them - and therefore be happy of advice on how to play to those values.

The bottom line is that the situation is guided entirely by consideration of me and of my needs.

The problem, of course, is that that consideration sometimes omits the matter of my perspective.

It's like that first thing to do the day you lose your job in the first place. One serves others in unemployment, make no mistake of it. The pay is worse. But the return is - hopefully - to get paid again ... and soon.

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