So, it turns out that my group will not be affected directly this round of layoffs. I got the news yesterday afternoon, and I had very mixed emotions.
On the one hand, it’s a huge relief to not have to start my job search again. It’s also a relief not to have a job search hanging over my head during the holidays.
On the other hand, I was looking forward to having some time off and taking a break.
Then again, I guess I get both of the above, because over the coming months, people are going to be pretty checked-out, due to the ongoing merger of our company. The buyer still needs to figure out where we fit in, and who knows where we will end up. The metaphorical sea of management decisions will continue to wash up on our metaphorical shore, and who knows what it will all bring? Metaphorical driftwood? Detritus from past wrecks? Erosion? Metaphorical treasures that have been buried out at sea for a long, long time, only to be washed up onto the beaches of our lives — surprise!
I fully expect that over the coming months, people are going to be in various states of dissolution and departure, as they either dissociate from the trauma of not knowing what’s to come, they go looking for other jobs, and they freeze in the face of not knowing what direction to go.
What’s our motivation for doing what we do, every day? Clearly, that motivation is going to be changing over the next months for a lot of people, since the motivation they have had for many, many years — being a part of a local company that’s made good on the international scene, and tying their identity to that company — is going to change… even disappear… as our employer gets merged into a completely different company. For those people who relate to their job in terms of just keeping the money coming in to support their families, things may not change much… other than a profound existential angst over whether or not they’ll be kept around. That angst is justified.
It can be pretty unnerving for everyone who doesn’t take charge of their own frame of mind and their future. We have no control over what goes on around us, and we have no way of knowing if anything we do actually tips the scales in our favor. For those who are in wait-and-see mode, it’s the worst of all worlds. Because nobody in positions of power is going to tell any of us what’s going on. They can’t. Or things might fall apart.
So, we have to just keep on keeping on.
Or make our own way.
Personally, I’m in the process of making my own way. I’m taking this opportunity to regain my focus on building something independent from my day-job. I’ve got some ideas I am developing, some projects that really bring me a lot of happiness and a sense of purpose. They’re something that I have control over, and they let me express myself and my own interests, even while I’m “stuck” at a job that’s being run by someone else who doesn’t know I exist, and frankly doesn’t care — insofar as I have nothing to do with them directly, and I can’t do anything significant for them, other than performing my small part in their grand scheme.
Having my own projects relieves me of the resentment I feel about that. It gives me a way to redirect my energy in a positive, productive direction. It takes the pressure off, because it lets me create something of my own, as part of my own unfolding life… not a helpless pawn (as one of my co-workers described us yesterday) at the mercy of management and their schemes. It gets me off the tenderhooks of waiting for management to make up their damn’ minds about what’s to become of us. It lets me take action in ways that matter to me.
Bottom line, I make a lousy pawn. Truly, I do. I need more than that. I’m capable of more than that. And, in fact, there’s more in store for me… and I don’t find any comfort at all in seeing myself as being too small to matter. None of us should feel that way… although some feel more comfortable with that perspective, for sure.
Anyway, it’s all a work in progress, and when I take the attitude of a student observing what’s going on and learning from it (rather than being a hapless victim of an impersonal universe), things get a lot more tolerable. And it becomes about me making sense of this all, rather than me succumbing to the senselessness of an impersonal cosmos that frankly doesn’t give a damn about me or anything that has to do with me.
I don’t believe in living only in that kind of world. It seems to exist, but beyond that, within my own heart and head, there is so much more.
So, that’s where I’ll look for my next steps.
No more waiting for me. Onward.