In a recent study, 98% of participants responded to the question ‘What do you do’ by mentioning their careers, job titles, professions or their businesses. The remaining 2% (Mostly Gen Z) smiled their way out or gave incisive answers like ‘I spread happiness and positive vibes’ or ‘I live my best life every day’.
The 98% there, of course, caught me off guard because it had not occurred to me just how much job titles and professions defined the human identity. It scared me more because I could not help but wonder what happens to our identities when we lose our jobs or go through life experiences, like accidents, that rob us of our ability to practice our professions. It’s a thought I could not avoid at that point in time because I have been apprehensive of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic and those in industries whose future remains grim. According to business Daily’s post , 1.7 Million Kenyans lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
So what next for those of us who lost their jobs or the families directly affected by either job losses or unemployment of their loved ones despite having brilliant academic qualifications?
After the denial stage of the fact that you indeed do not have a source of income to sustain the lifestyle you were accustomed to, and after the anger stirred by the reality of joblessness subsides; you must take a step back and think through your current circumstances and the truths surrounding the situation.
This involves determining the sufficiency of your rainy-day fund and the tough lifestyle changes that you need to take to ensure that the fund sustains you for as long as practically possible. And if no rainy-day fund was set aside for whatever reason, thinking about the survival alternatives available to you, including the possibility of moving back home to cut on the fixed costs that you are not able to meet.
It also entails a critical reflection on the truths that led to the situation. Sometimes factors beyond our control like industry changes, redundancies or even toxic work environments. Sometimes factors within our control like negligence of our duties at our previous workplaces, or quitting careers that felt wrong for us, or the deliberate decision to start afresh.
Or detailing out the specific pain points of your situation, say for example, the inability to meet your financial needs and those of your family.
Accepting reality means that you make the conscious choice to come to terms with reality for what it is, not by the memory of what you were before, and not by the dream of who you will be in the future.
Evaluating your options
The options available to us are shaped largely by our personalities and partly by the truths surrounding our circumstances. A person with an entrepreneurial mindset is likely to consider exploring business opportunities while a person who prefers stability and consistency is likely to only explore alternative employment options. An executive person is likely to only apply for jobs they consider befitting of their status and caliber while a down to earth person is likely to apply for jobs in-discriminatively and work their way up. A person struggling to find their identity and passion is likely to explore a variety of career options for the next course while a person who clearly knows their passion may consider turning their passion into their income generating ‘job’ rather than trying to find a job that matches their passion.
Whichever option appeals most to you requires you to invest time to do your research. For example, if you are exploring the option of going into business, it is critical that you do an in-depth analysis of the market that you intend to venture into, observe the market trends, evaluate current competition and define what your competitive edge will be – the value proposition that will make potential customers choose your product over an existing similar product.
If you have chosen to go the employment way, you may want to relook your CV to be sure that it is appealing to your preferred industry.
*Ps The job hunting phase is probably the most humbling phase that you will ever go through. Be patient and be kind on yourself
And if you intentionally chose to quit your previous job, write down the aspects of the psychological contract between yourself and your previous employer whose violation broke the camel’s back. Was it the unwritten promise of work life balance that was not respected; the strained relationship between you and your boss (es) that was more spiteful than nurturing, or the nature of your job that did not match your qualifications and passion? This is especially important in evaluating your options because you do not want to end up in the same rat hole that you escaped.
Regulating your emotions
The cycle of job hunting (unsuccessfully) or starting businesses that seem to fail for one reason or another can be disappointing, depressing even. Social interactions drain you; comments get to you head and, in most cases, you get a diminished view of yourself that you struggle to see past. Acknowledge all these cycles.
Acknowledge to yourself and to the loved ones around you that you are going through a tough phase, rather than sinking into the never-ending chase of excuses and blame game for your current situation.
Suppress the urge to attribute other people’s success or jobs to sheer luck or their connections that beat the system to hand them their jobs. Or the feeling that your fate is in the hands of those in powerful positions or successful businesses (It is not)
Admit (to yourself) that your life is not necessarily on the trajectory that you had set for yourself, and that is perfectly okay and ephemeral.
Drop the injudicious belief that for as long as you have not found an alternative, the people around you are obliged to ensure that your needs are met at the expense of their own living because reality is, they are not. And in most cases, there is a threshold to how long they can carry your burden alongside their own burdens.In other words, refuse to resign to fate and hold on to the dream of getting back on your feet.
Resist the thought that the worthiness of your life is pegged on your livelihood because your life in itself is worth a lot more than you could ever imagine.
In all these, stay focused on your goal and resilient in whatever path you choose to take because a resilient soul is the best shield to the harsh world that we live in.
Experiment and reintegrate
In the end, all the pieces fall right back into their place. The opportunities meant for you come your way, the trends shift in favor of your business ventures, our lost identities find their way back to us and our bruised egos heal in due time.
Take the phase gracefully and embrace new possibilities because this could be the divine way of the universe whispering to you that it is time to find something even better.
And hey, I thought finding Me more was an almost right title for this blog post because sometimes disruptions force you to look more deeply into who we are. So here is to finding you (yourself) more.
*As usual, sending Love and light your way ❤️
Big little girl | story teller for all seasons | Kenyan |