I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS LOST UNTIL I WAS FORCED TO FIND MYSELF

After almost 19 years at a job doing work I loved, I was part of a “reduction in force” which means in one short 15 minute meeting I became unemployed. There have been some hard moments and #allthefeels —  from those that have given me an unbelievable amount of support to the disappointment of those who have not reached out. But I’m not writing about the details of losing a job and becoming a stay at home mom (a secret wish of mine for years).

Instead, I want to tell you how ashamed I am. I’m ashamed I’m not more upset that I was laid off.

I loved what I did: I sold dreams. I developed marketing to recruit students to a college. I packaged dreams and aspirations and goals. I got to be part of the beginning of the adult lives of young people…and see them launch whole careers. I worked with a great team of creative, intelligent, fun people. The job part of my job was great. My teammates were unbelievably good. So, I didn’t even realize until I was not going to work every morning that I had lost myself along the way.

In this picture I was 29. Strong and brave and confident.

I think it happened so slowly, I didn’t even realize it. I stayed at a place I allowed to eat away at the very characteristics of me I strive every day to grow in my children: confidence, self worth, bravery, integrity, kindness, loyalty, creativity. I also didn’t realize: my kids were watching.

I believed staying in that job was best for my family. It paid well, it was convenient, the benefits were good, the vacation time was very generous, I was good at it, I was comfortable. We were comfortable. These were all huge pluses for my family, for our kids and our lives. I didn’t realize the small pieces of myself that were chipped away in the name of “doing what I thought was best.”

If you are wondering if the role you’re playing in your life right now is where you should be, ask  yourself:

Am I being bullied?
Are those leading me or partnering with me kind? 
How are our successes celebrated?
Am I appreciated?
If my opinion is different, is it welcome?
Do I believe in myself?
Am I free to stand up for those I believe in?
Do I like who I am?
Do I trust and respect those that give me feedback?
Am I proud of the role I play and the way it plays out?

Be honest with yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to change anything immediately. If it’s a job or a relationship or an organization you’re involved with – these answers matter. You don’t have to make changes right away. But if your role lacks kindness, you aren’t able to value yourself or you don’t feel valued, and you don’t feel respected, it’s time to think about changing things long term. 

When I told my kids I no longer had my job, my 7-year-old said, “Maybe now you can work with people who are nice to you.” In truth, it was a very select few I allowed to crumble my self worth, but my boys heard me talking to my husband and they saw the days I couldn’t stop the tears.

What was I teaching them about standing up for myself? About self worth? About women in the work place? I spend a ridiculous amount of time building my kids up, growing them to be brave and focused on doing the kind thing. Choose Kind isn’t just a slogan from a movie, it’s my life’s goal for them…and yet, I was showing my kids that it was more important to have the right paycheck or stick with what was comfortable than stand up for myself, than fight to be appreciated and respected.

Adulting is hard. Being a constant example to these little sponges is challenging. In the middle of life and #allthethings it was impossible to see I was lost. The me I loved, the one I was proud of, the one who knew she was worth something, the girl who deserves to be appreciated,  she was wandering around lost. And she didn’t even know it. 

But I do now. I’m not going to lose her again. My kids…my family…I…deserve better. 

My family (minus the 2-year-old) at a wedding last weekend. I’m found!

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6 Responses to I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS LOST UNTIL I WAS FORCED TO FIND MYSELF

  1. Nina August 10, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    I am so crazy proud of you. And I’m so happy you are not in that negative environment anymore. You are a ray of sunshine and should not be contained like you were. The sky is the limit for someone as brave, tenacious and hard working as you.

    • meghancooley
      meghancooley August 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm #

      brb…there’s something in my eye. Thanks, so so much. For #allthethings and for listening for so many years.

  2. Andrea Heinz August 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    YES! So excited that you can find a new adventure, but I am glad that our paths crossed in your old job. Whatever you do next will be amazing, just like you!

    • meghancooley
      meghancooley August 13, 2018 at 9:32 pm #

      Aw shucks. Thanks. And I am SO grateful not only that our paths crossed but that we stayed in touch. LOVED seeing you and meeting your family this summer. One of these days we’ll have to come visit you!

  3. Bonnie Tucker August 11, 2018 at 7:06 am #

    I relate to this so much. I had a similar employment, not what you did, but how I felt and why I stayed. I constantly felt like I was drowning, but the pay and benefits were amazing. Losing that job was the beat thing that could have happened for my mental health. Not at first, because it did to a number on my self-worth, but once I began to heal and realizes how toxic it was for me personally. I still have friends who work there who are happy, but it was a place that was killing me slowly. It was definitely a me issue. I took a year off to heal and be with my kids, then slowly eased back in with a part time job. I’ve been back to working full time for almost 3 years now, and I’ve found a place and a position that I love. I feel appreciated and it’s really nice.

    • meghancooley
      meghancooley August 13, 2018 at 9:31 pm #

      Bonnie, YES! All this. Toxic is such a good word – sometimes the damage is done before you even realize it. I’m so glad you are in a better place and frame of mind. Thank you for commenting.

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