quarterlife crisis


Guys, it’s been a month. And guess what?

…I’ve survived!

I hate to be all “positive” and stuff (after all, I do love to make myself the victim), but I honestly feel pretty great right now. I mean, I still get a little sting every now and then when I think about my ex-boyfriend, but 90% of the time I’m pretty good.

Without going into too many details I’ll just say it really, really sucked for a while. I’m glad to report though that I haven’t seen him since the night he broke up with me! I thought you all were crazy when you said it’d be easier to heal if I didn’t see or talk to him at all, but apparently you all know what you’re talking about.

I realize I’m not completely “over him” and I’m likely to experience some more setbacks in the future, but hey, this is a fantastic start. I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the moment, and I plan to enjoy it. I’m at the lowest I’ve weighed in YEARS (breaking up is by far the easiest/most effective diet I’ve ever done!). I’m starting to feel like myself again…I knew I’d turned a corner the day I thought to myself “I’m in the mood for push-ups.” Needless to say, I’ve started to work out and take dance classes once again. I didn’t want to look at my sewing machine for weeks, but now I’m making plans for my summer wardrobe and new projects. Best of all, I’ve realized (and embraced the fact that) I can flirt now! I’d forgotten how much fun flirting was! lol (Not that I’m ready to date or anything….that’s a whole other topic you can look forward to reading about in the future….)

Anyway, I went a bit longer with this than intended, but I just wanted to check in to let you all know….I’m ok. You guys have been awesome with your kind and wise words. I’ve read and re-read your comments, and I’m so thankful. =]

Disclaimer: This post started off as a comment to the last post, but morphed into it’s own thing as I sat on my couch feeling sorry for myself. The majority of parenthetical statements were made as I re-read the post to make sure I wasn’t rambling. Which explains why the tone might jump around a bit. If I was a serious blogger I probably wouldn’t post this, but what the heck….

Thank you all for the encouraging comments. You guys are so sweet. Without any real-life friends I can be completely honest with (or am scared of being completely honest with), you guys are the next best thing.

This is the first time I have really ever gotten my heart broken…much less after such a long relationship. I’m sure this is normal, and I KNOW I’m not the first or the only one to feel this way, but it’s proving to be incredibly hard.

I’m fine one minute, and think I have it all figured out and I’m ready to live my life. Next thing you know, I sit on the couch, something runs across my mind, and I realize that the life I thought I had in front of me has drastically changed. And the uncontrollable sobbing begins again. I’m tempted to fill up my schedule so that I don’t have TIME to think about how I feel, but I’m pretty sure I’d just end up breaking down eventually. (And worse, in public or at work.) Part of me is glad that I have a three day weekend to digest this so that I can function at work on Tuesday, but all this free time….I don’t want to fill it up with sobbing, curled up on the couch. (My eyes can’t take that.)

I wonder how long I’ll feel this way. And sadly, the foremost recurring thought is: who is going to be the first to change their facebook status? And after that, how long will it be before he starts sleeping with other girls? He was my first love….not to mention the only guy I’ve ever been with. I can’t imagine him with someone else. I DON’T WANT TO. (Fact: I was also his first serious relationship….which I’m sure is what partially led him to conclude that he wants to experience life on his own since we started dating so young. Which I’m not sure if that basically translates to “sleep around a bit.” Or maybe that’s just me being cynical and over-dramatic? In that case, his “in a relationship” status kind of calms me….since the majority of potential sleeping partners would eventually be checking that. Yes….I’m a pathetic and silly girl.)

He wants me to “stay in his life”…what does that mean, and will I be able to handle that without repeatedly wondering/hoping if he will take me back? Should I even want him to take me back? (Again with the honesty, part of me is desperately hoping he won’t make it past one week and will realize that I’m enough to make him happy.)

He called me yesterday to check on how I was doing. (I guess to make sure I’m not suicidal? He saw what a mess I’d become when I was unemployed….) He sounded pretty miserable, and I felt bad about that because I had made an effort to sound really cheery when I answered the phone….but I can’t help but be mad at him. It hurt so much when he said that he felt he was doing the right thing. Afterall, that makes me the WRONG thing. And yet I was encouraging that last night….trying to convince myself that he was right.

Yeah….I’m a bit of a mess right now, even though I want to deny it to myself. My cousins daughter’s birthday party is this afternoon and I can’t figure out what I should do…go and face my life (including having to answer to everyone asking “where’s [the BF], is he coming today?”, or stay in and cry ’til my eyes hurt. I did the whole “on the verge of tears” yesterday, but apparently that didn’t help because I bawled my eyes out just now.

I guess it’s a process that I can’t rush. (But oh, how I want to rush it….get it over with…)

I’ll try not to turn this blog into a mopey mess, but I’m not always good at that, and when it comes down to it this blog has always been more of a journal for me than a how-to guide when it comes to finances. I hope you understand that, and I appreciate you sticking around.

My boyfriend broke up with me last night.

I’m not sure it’s completely set in quite yet, it doesn’t feel like it’s really happening. And yet I woke up this morning crying, and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was his idea, and while I can’t say it came out of nowhere, it did take me by surprise. I knew he was going through a personal/identity crisis, but I didn’t really think this is the direction he’d take it….

I can’t say I blame him. He doesn’t want to turn into his parents (bitter and resentful of each other), and I definitely don’t want him to be unhappy. I could be selfish, but would that really help me?

I’m not sure where to go from here. It hasn’t even been 12 hours, but I just want to skip over this suffering part. I just want to get out of my apartment and move on and pretend the last 8 years never happened.

The saddest part is I don’t have any real friends I can call to talk to. Which is why part of me kind of understands why this needs to happen….I need to learn to exist outside of our relationship. He says he doesn’t want me out of his life….and really, we know each other better than anyone else does so it’d be hard to break it off and never see each other again. But I’m afraid that in the back of my mind I’ll always be sitting around waiting, hoping that he’ll change his mind.

So I’m not sure what’s next. I guess I move on?

 

That is how long I was unemployed.

There are so many thoughts running through my mind right now. So many things I want to share, but it’ll be a while before I can get all of my emotions in order. One thing I realize though is that for this past year I kept thinking “as soon as I find a job it’ll all be over. I can return to my former life, and this will all have been nothing but a distant memory….” Well, I was wrong. This isn’t over.

I’ll tell you more about my new job in another post, save for one detail….it pays less. A LOT less than I got paid at my last job.

One of the reasons I stayed away from this blog for so long (other than my supposed excuse of not having an “enter” key on my keyboard) was that I was embarrassed. Embarrassed I’d been unemployed for so long and still hadn’t been able to get a job, when everyone else around me was getting hired. I was  embarrassed of the fact that I was suddenly hesitant to apply for lower-paying jobs when I’d previously stated that I didn’t think anything was “beneath me”. I didn’t want to work retail, I didn’t want to work a “mindless job”, I didn’t want to make less than $30,000 a year. I was stubborn. In my mind, as soon as I took a job in any of those categories my situation was no longer temporary…..it was real. I’d have to cut back. I could no longer sustain this lifestyle.

Deep down inside, I didn’t want to work. I was enjoying myself…..a lady of leisure, minus the husband that pays for everything. I could go join my boyfriend for lunch in the middle of the day. I was enjoying my new hobby, and discovering even more things to do. It rocked, really. Except I was financing this lifestyle with my savings, which were slowly (or not so slowly, actually) dwindling.

Don’t get me wrong though, I was still looking for work the whole time….but I can’t exactly say it was an aggressive search.

What I’m basically saying is I was delusional. I was living in this fantasy world where my unemployment existed in a vacuum. It wasn’t really happening. For most people unemployment would’ve been PF blogging GOLD! Hello! When else are budgets more important than when you have no money coming in?! However I retreated.

Nothing is more evident to me now….I have a spending problem. Instead of budgeting like a madwoman I resigned to having to spend all of my savings. What else could I do, right? I proceeded to spend as if I was still more than I did when I was making $60k a year!

You know, I always think back to a comment someone made once on this blog…to paraphrase, they basically questioned whether having such a big emergency fund was really a good idea. If I had enough money to last me over a year without working, wouldn’t that be counter productive? I wouldn’t be motivated to go out and find a job right away. I’m sad to say they were right.

Anyway, I don’t start my new job until Monday, but I figured it was time I broke the silence here. Thanks to anyone still reading! And please, no disparaging comments. It’s taken a lot of effort for me to be this open, so please be respectful.

Continued from Part 1

So, all this time, from even before I got laid off I started thinking…..what would I do if I no longer had a full-time job? Lots of things crossed my mind: be a professional belly dancer (yeah, right), take an apprenticeship at a bakery, become a reality TV star (heehee)….in other words, they all seemed totally unrealistic, if not impractical.  Of all the things that briefly popped into my head there’s one that I have given a second, third, and fourth thought to….and that was teaching.

I haven’t always wanted to admit it, but part of me has always wanted to teach. (When I was in kindergarten I remember I really wanted to be a painter “when I grew up”….then I realized you had to have some kind of talent, or painting ability….of which I had none. After that I moved onto wanting to be a teacher. That actually lasted for a while, maybe until middle school when I realized that teachers didn’t make a lot of money.) Childhood memories aside, of all the things I’ve considered, it feels like it would be the best fit for me.

Sadly, I had never actually mentioned this to anyone. Last weekend though the BF was asking if I had any backup plans in case nothing comes up in my former line of work; if I had a new career in mind. I wasn’t sure if I should share but I did. What did I have to lose by sharing? (And I followed the revelation with a laundry list of why it probably wouldn’t work out anyway…..yeah, I think I have a negativity/insecurity problem.)

The only problem? (Here we go again…) The economy.

I don’t know if it’s the same where you guys are, but here, in a state that has been greatly affected by the burst of the real estate bubble, falling home prices, and the subsequent fall in the tax roll….schools are suffering from budget cuts and lack of sufficient funding. So now they’re laying off people in the school districts, cutting pay, freezing raises, etc. I’m making an effort to remain positive, but after some quick searching in the state databases there aren’t many opportunities right now in the school districts. Someone mentioned teaching at private schools….but I would imagine they are doing even worse.

So, I dunno….I feel I’m at a dead end again, even before I start.

For the sake of this post though, and to sum up what things I would need to do to get started towards becoming an educator (and to perhaps keep some hope alive, lol). Since I have an engineering background, according to the state I could take some tests and teach Math or Physics. Or, I could also apply to be a substitute teacher. And the costs would be:

General Knowledge Test: $130
Fingerprinting: $71
Substitute teacher application: $21

Subject Area Test: Physics: $200
Subject Area Test: Math 5-9: $200
Subject Area Test: Math 6-12: $200

So, um, yeah….I guess the first thing to figure out is if I really want to teach. It’s not cheap enough to just do on a whim, but at the same time I can’t be a serious candidate  if I don’t first have my test scores, then I need to figure out how to get experience. Then I have to worry about whether or not there are any jobs out there. (Right? Or am I going about this totally backwards.) I figure if this is something I really want to do, then I should give it a real shot. It won’t be worth the trouble if it’s just something I thought up to pass the time.

At a minimum I would need to take the GK test and fingerprinting to be a substitute, which would give me some experience along the way. (FYI, I actually looked up the test prep guides and they have a few of them at the library! Unfortunately they’re in high demand, but at least I know I could take a look at them and “prepare” without committing to anything.)

I know my life isn’t limited to a choice between A or B, it never is. I’m sure there are many other things I can do….including being an entrepreneur. However, in the past I’ve learned that I don’t really have what it takes to be a good business owner. For one, I hate marketing myself and I’m a terrible salesperson. (I actually left out “sales” when I was typing….I hope that doesn’t mean I subconsciously think I’m a terrible person.) Even so, in the event nothing comes up in the following months I have to have a backup plan….including picking up part time jobs (it wouldn’t take much to earn more than I’m getting from unemployment), and doing some other things on the side/from home.

We’ll see what happens. I have a lot to work on, but I consider it progress that I’m even typing this and sharing with you all…

There are two main thoughts that have brought me to this point:

  1. There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities out there right now in my line of work.
  2. The last few months of my old job were pretty miserable. (You can read some snippets about that here and here.)

For the most part I’m paranoid about bringing traffic to my site if I mention the industry I’m in….but I think it’s pretty relevant to my career crisis…so I’m going to say it. To put it simply, in my industry….we build stuff. Buildings. (Ok, if you need a further explanation….feel free to ask, but I’d say it’s pretty self-explanatory.)

You’d have to be hiding under a rock to not know what’s happened to our industry, for the most part. With the bursting of the real estate bubble the first round of companies went down (the ones that specialized in high rises), then as the economy kept sinking lower and lower more companies were in danger. For a while we’d get scary news…companies across the street laid of 100 people in one day, or gave 30% pay cuts throughout. I consider myself VERY lucky for lasting as long as I did.

I suppose it’s starting to pick up in some regions, but basically that just means companies are getting enough work to keep their currently employees busy….I haven’t seen true growth in this area yet. So jobs? Yeah…right. (Actually, I have seen lots of postings for upper level management. I find that pretty interesting…I read it as a sign that companies are trying to expand their previous business models, go into new sectors, etc.)

Take that (no jobs) and add it to the fact that I’m not even 100% sure I want to go back to that industry…..and, well, there’s a lot of insecurity. I briefly considered (and would still consider) working for a sub contractor (I worked for a general….which manages all the subs), but there’s still no guarantee that I wouldn’t end up hating it.

So, all this time, from even before I got laid off I started thinking…..what would I do if I no longer had a full-time job? Lots of things crossed my mind: be a professional belly dancer (yeah, right), take an apprenticeship at a bakery, become a reality TV star (heehee)….in other words, they all seemed totally unrealistic, if not impractical.  Of all the things that briefly popped into my head there’s one that I have given a second, third, and fourth thought to….however, this post has gotten a bit long, so I’ll tell you in Part 2 tomorrow!

These have been a couple of rough months at work. It all started with another one of those mysterious conference calls with the company owner/president. We didn’t think much of it then, after all, it was the same old news as always: the economy sucks, we’re working at it, we’re still hoping to maintain the quality of the company. You know, that stuff. The one notable thing was he mentioned they were looking at laying off a handful of people. Hey, a handful? That’s only 5, right?

Well, our regional manager (who was there with us during the call) clarified that it’d probably be a few more than 5 people getting laid off. After a boom in business, followed by a bust, it’s only natural that a company our size should get to “right-sizing”. (You like that one, huh? No more downsizing….nope, we’re RIGHT sizing.) Anyway, nothing really interesting happened for a while after that.

Then one day the office manager, who I’m fairly good friends with, shows me a spreadsheet she was preparing for her boss. It was a list. Of people. That were getting “right-sized”. It wasn’t a handful, more like 10. (That’s TWO hands.) I didn’t look at it too hard, but it was easy to pick out a few names of people I knew. Scary. (It didn’t occur to me until afterwards that my name could be on there…..although she probably wouldn’t have broke then news like that, would she?)

Within the next few days the news broke out. They laid off our human resources department, a big name in marketing, and several others.

And then on Thursday, out of the blue they laid-off the receptionist/administrator. The shocking part was that she’s been doing administrative duties on two of the projects I’m working on. She’s been swamped, as I am. But apparently that isn’t enough anymore. They just need to let go of more people. (It was heartbreaking. I’ve gotten pretty close to her over the past few months and knew several things, such as the fact that she is going through a divorce right now, her middle-school aged son is starting to have problems at school (likely due to the divorce), money is tight, she had a death in the family that morning. Talk about a rough day.)

Things are getting scary, my friends. Now its only a matter of time for me. Not if, not why….but when. I predict December. When my project wraps up. Right in time for the holidays. Nice, isn’t it? Hopefully I make it that far. We’d need to land another project for that, and from what I’ve seen….well, there are none in the pipelines.

I was talking to a friend, who happens to be in the same industry as me. There are about 20 people left working in their office….their regional office. (To give an idea of how small that is, there were once over 100 working there.) My friend is the only person left in that department. Scary.

Needless to say I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis these past few months. Sure, losing my job isn’t the end of the world. Many have endured it. My biggest worry is that once I’m out of a job, it pretty much means the industry is dead. Let me rephrase that….my industry is pretty much dead right now, and I’m hanging on by a thread. Once I’m out of this job, it’ll be a WHILE before I can get another one in the same industry. A year if I’m lucky.

So what will I do?

I have no clue. One part of me is horrified that I allowed myself to move out, knowing that I could be out of a job at any minute. I knew that this summer while I was looking at apartments. The other part of me knows that had I not moved out, and then lost my job it would mean I’d be living with my parents for a VERY long time. So….hoorah for independence, I guess. I’m suddenly VERY glad I didn’t buy a house and wipe out my savings.

Another part of me is somewhat exhilarated. Afterall, a steady job leads to complacency. This would be my chance to try new things, explore a new career path….but then I also realize that there’s no way I’ll be earning as much with any of those paths. The part of me that always said “money isn’t that important” now realizes deep down inside that I only said that because I “finally had money”.

Anyway, I’ve got a lot to think about. I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, whether or not I like it, and whether or not I see it right away…..

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