Celebrating my survival

One year after retrenchment
I am writing this one year and three days after being retrenched. A whole year!

The spirit of this blog is purely me celebrating myself. I am giving myself a high-five for my journey of survival.

If retrenchment was personified, and I encountered him on the street, I would sing Elton John’s – I’m still standing, after all this time

I am not going to list all the lows and the losses – if I wrote about what made me cry, you would cry too.

This is also not my survival guide and how I have been navigating my way and driving myself through a year of unemployment and re-invention. I have shared this in my previous blogs which can be read here:
Another kind of endurance
Unemployed…90 days in
Choosing my pressure release valve
My retrenchment survival guide

Perhaps one day I’ll write about all the roles I played and all the things I did in this year, but that’s another story.

The next thing
When I first got retrenched, I thought it would be a temporary space I’d landed on, and would soon go from there to the next job, and life as I knew it would be restored. The months went by, and recently I realised it would soon be one year. That realisation caused me frustration. And then I thought to myself:

This is a chapter of my life I can never get back. I will validate it!

I decided that in the future when I look back at this time, I don’t want my memory to be of a purgatory that I languished in. I want to look back in amazement and wonder and say: ‘What a year!’ ‘What an incredible experience!’

What if it was my perception of how things should be that caused disappointment and frustration – because I thought the ideal outcome would be another job and until then I was just in a waiting space? Waiting for what? Actually I am living in this space, not waiting for the next thing. This is the next thing. And I am embracing every aspect of it. It’s my life. I’m living it and I have decided to love it and to laugh in my space where I am right now.

Maybe it’s been a kind of gap year – not intentional, but a gap anyway – from where I’ve been and how that formed who I am now – a space to transform into the new me. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t know how everything will work out, but I am here and I’m going to live it and love it, just the way it is – not the way I think it’s supposed to be.

I’m thankful
I am grateful for many things and people along this adventure. I am not going to mention individuals by name because a comprehensive list would be endless, and is ongoing still.

I really appreciate everyone who asked: ‘Did you find a job?’, who listened to my plans, ideas and news about my interviews, disappointments and achievements. I am grateful for everyone who tagged me in a post about a job, or sent me a link. I am thankful for the friends who kept in touch and understood that retrenchment is not contagious, and that unemployed people still enjoy coffee and conversation. I am deeply grateful for my running family and club who always give me love and support.

It means a lot to be warmly welcomed and loved when I show up, and to not be criticised when I don’t. By the way,

Just because I showed up, doesn’t mean I didn’t cry all the way there

I am humbled by the new friends I made, who still found me worthy of friendship while not being in a position to give them anything, and not having known my previous successful version.

My arsenal
So what do I have that helps me to be resilient and survive?

– My upbringing – my parents’ character and values are not lectures, but examples and compass points. I learned from them about facing hardship with grace and dignity
– My own character built onto by reflection, self-insight and working on self-improvement over the years
– My years of karate practice, with the teachings of my Senseis, and the character-rich wisdom of the masters that paved the way before
– I guess my own spark inside that makes me be me
– My running – if I can endure and finish Comrades Marathon three times, I can apply that sense of commitment, goal-setting, focus and determination to other difficult aspects of my life

References that resonate

– A quote from one of my favourite poems – Desiderata – ‘…Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune….’
– Quote from my favourite book, The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay – ‘I learned that in each of us there burns a flame of independence that must never be allowed to go out. That as long as it exists within us we cannot be destroyed.’
– The movie Collateral Beauty, starring Will Smith

What I’m most proud of
A big part of my self-celebration is knowing that I am honouring my truth. I am not betraying myself. I can’t.
It means that I had to say No to some opportunities that would answer my financial needs, but not my inner peace. Although very difficult, I said No – even though I had nothing else in place. It was difficult for my friends to understand. I explained: ‘My well-being is worth more. It’s all I‘ve got.’