“Rachel, it’s not your fault. How would you know this was going to happen?” I say to myself to ease my mind. All this is true. If you told me in August 2019 that I would be unemployed by July 31st, 2020, I would have laughed and called you cray-cray. Like many people, I did not see COVID coming. In this time, I learned a lot about myself, and I have gained happiness, peace, and newly acquired strength. Before I talk about what I have learned through being an unemployed higher ed professional, I want to give a little background on how I got here.
Before being unemployed, I was THRIVING as a 4th-year Residence Hall Director (not an RA for those who thought I was). I received many accolades, kudos, and positive reviews from supervisors and colleagues! Yet, I knew that it was my last year working in this position. My position was only temporary and non-renewable after my 4th year.
While my contract stated it was time to leave, mentally, I knew that I was ready for a change. I learned from the beloved Dr. Pink was that, When you feel like you are no longer learning, it is time to grow up and grow out! It wasn’t that I hated my position, but I knew it was time for me to go out and gain new experiences.
I was ready for a new experience new challenges to tackle. Be careful what you wish for because boyyyyy is this a challenge, haha!
As my 4th-year commenced, I started applying for new positions. I would get a few 1st and 2nd round interviews, but some of the jobs didn’t seem like the right fit. In late February, early March, I told myself that I would start picking up on my search a lot more. Another mistake, but hey, we live in learn. March 2020 came, and so did the shutdown of the world.
I still was interviewing during this time, but I knew there was a possibility that I would not get a job. I even had housing until the end of July; however, I knew that moving back home with my family was inevitable (damn it).
July 31st came, and I moved out of my apartment and into my old playroom in my parents’ house. The move went thanks to my boyfriend and his family. But as I settled in, there was a sense of calm. Not because of being THRILLED to be back home because that’s a dub. I felt calm because my mini anxiety attacks ended. After unpacking things from my apartment into a storage unit and a new small room, I can finally breathe. Oh yeah, I don’t do well with moves at all! I hate throwing things away. I also was recovering from surgery (but we’ll talk about all that later).
Where was I again? Oh yes, I felt a sense of calm at home. While I enjoyed working, I was able to work on myself. I now can focus on me and do things I like to do, like this. Last but not least, it was the first time I did not have to go through the dreaded Student Affairs August! If you know anyone who works in student affairs, you know that the year’s time is busy.
I realize that I need this break for myself. I am an extremely hard worker, I enjoy going above and beyond. I LOVED taking on extra roles and tasks, but that meant I had less time for things I liked to do. I now have time to chill.
Today, while I still apply for jobs, I have vowed to focus on myself a little more. My boyfriend told me I will not get this time back, so do what I want while working on finding a new job. And that is precisely what I am doing. I know I will find the perfect position for me soon. But I want to focus on things I am passionate about, like my health, this blog, and my future Etsy shop.
This is for the many Higher Ed Professionals who are currently looking for a new job. It is okay to be sad and discouraged about the search, which is entirely normal. But if there is something you’ve always wanted to do, do it NOW! You will never get this time back, do something for yourself. Give yourself that same energy that you would give to your job. You deserve it!
In part two of this post, I will talk about my job why I am not scared of being employed… again. Because yes, it has happened before…