I’ve never had particular feelings about February before; it’s kind of an in-between month, like when you’re 17, you’re more in-between-16-and-18 than actually 17. February is more of an in-between-the-new-year-and-the-start-of-spring month than anything really. Sure there’s Valentine’s Day, but I’ve never been a fan of that holiday anyway.
I can’t help but take notice of my February parallels, though.
In February 2020, I was laid off from my first big-girl-job, my first gig postgrad. It was quite sudden and very unexpected. After the shock and sadness wore off though, I decided to take advantage of my sudden free time and travel. I went to San Francisco, to Yosemite, to Phoenix, and to Chicago. (In hindsight, spending my income to travel right after being laid off wasn’t the brightest idea, but granted, I didn’t know what would happen right when I started looking for a job again.. *ahem* pandemic.) I managed to squeeze all that in before COVID became widespread in the U.S. in March. It was a whirlwind of change and momentum that halted so suddenly I felt like a cartoon who runs face first into a brick wall and flattens, stumbling away looking like a pancake.
My new normal became cooking for my family and cherishing the irregular amount of time we got to spend together; slowly I felt myself inflating again. Going to college in Chicago was one of the best decisions of my life, but I missed everyday family life immensely when I was away. So this time at home, especially with my sister, felt like a gift, if one wrapped in horrific paper. We were and are very fortunate to have been able to have that time together, and I try my best not to take that privilege for granted. The little bubble inside our home felt safe and happy, almost like it existed outside of time and the normal rules of the world.
In April that bubble popped and landed me in Alabama, moving in with Tom and treasuring all those new memories and experiences. Finding work again was on my mind, but far enough in the back that I could rationalize ignoring it for a bit. Most of my friends and family were worried about keeping their jobs, so the prospect of getting hired didn’t seem likely. But as the weeks progressed and Tom got into a routine with flight school, my desire to be useful & creative began to increase. I spent hours on LinkedIn, tweaking my resume, writing god-forsaken cover letters, dropping emails and pitches into editors’ inboxes, writing said pitches, and applying to random jobs. As you can probably gather, it wasn’t fruitful. The monotone routine of doing the same thing over and over without differing results was depressing (what’s that saying about insanity…). The majority of the time, even with follow up emails, I simply never heard back.
When the holidays rolled around and Tom had block leave, I decided to give it a rest and try again in 2020. And when the holidays faded into the new year, I picked up that same routine without the rejuvenated hopefulness I was expecting after the break. Then I got a text from a friend saying a non-profit he freelances for was looking to hire, and he recommended me for the position. I was honored and flustered and simmering with nervous excitement. I didn’t even tell Tom I had an interview until I was in the middle of said interview, thinking he would be at work when I took the call. Telling people felt like jinxing it.
But today, on February 1, 2021, I started at Corner to Corner as a part-time Digital Media Specialist & Copywriter.
Growing up, I had a parent who loved their job and a parent who tolerated their job, and sometimes hated it. As I grew, both my parents instilled in me the importance of doing something everyday that you love, that invigorates you. They supported me as I majored in creative writing and minored in history and Irish studies because they knew those topics inspired me and fueled my creative spirit. They supported me when I landed my first job as a Communications Coordinator at a brand-spanking-new lifestyle store because they knew I was curious and excited about its potential.
Last month, when I was still in the dredges of application, I texted my dad about being at the point of just applying for some customer service job even though I knew I would hate it. He responded with this text:
“You’re a smart girl Paige. You’ll figure it out. Just make sure you’re not miserable doing something.”
His serene surety in my capabilities gave me peace and confidence in myself when it was wearing thin. I got lucky with a network connection (honestly, is there any other way to get a job now?) and I am so so grateful to that friend for thinking of me. But I am equally grateful for my parents endless support in so many ways, as well as my boyfriend’s devotion to me on so many levels.
I finished up my first day of work and saw the parallels of my 2020 February and my 2021 February and felt compelled to write about this new moment of hope, gratitude, inspiration, and excitement. 2021 feels full of possibilities.
To supplement this post: I am a straight, white, upper-middle class, woman who is very privileged to be where I am and to have people in my life able to support me, emotionally and financially. I recognize that privilege.