The same thing happened to me. Someone who was a top tier mergers and acquisition lawyer for 10 years no less, working in the highest echelon of firms, who quit that career to try to be something else and managed to make the improbable transition into architecture in 2019, with a new role in that industry that was maybe just taking off, and having taken a 65% pay cut for this new career no less, and that new career then fired me in 2020, because...pandemic, and architecture.

Someone who was a foreigner no less, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world to be jobless in and at the time an absolute epicenter of deaths and infection rate for covid (NY), now without status to be in the United States but whose own country wasn't repatriating its citizens and let them be kept out (Australia), who once proudly held a passport that was welcomed in so many countries but now the whole world was frozen, closed off, to just about anyone and anything.

Imagine how fucked up I felt for having bombed my life so hard. 

And the worst part is, I felt like I had shadow chosen it too. I survived rounds of layoffs too but saw how despicably this company was reacting to the very human disaster that was unfolding. And I did not pretend hard enough that keeping my job was the most important thing to me and I did not grovel. And then I had to live with the consequences, with my life and my very living absolutely unravelling, with moves upon moves. And with every move I was a little closer to my truth and further and further away from any semblance of stability/security. I write this now from Istanbul, via Croatia, via Miami, via California. I am still not working and I will maybe later this year finally be able to touch down again in Australia. 

I unravelled, hard, and I let it happen. 

Struggling: please know that it's all ok. It's all part of a continuing story. 

Expand full comment

I cried at that China Doll reference, that always grabs me too. I'm learning so much about forgiving myself for just being me and this advice really hit home. Thanks Polly and love to you, Struggling.

Expand full comment

I relate to this so much! I'm self-employed but I had a major dip in clients and income this year and I've been feeling sad, pessimistic, and uncertain about my future. It's a tough lesson-- but we can't rely on the fickle forces of capitalism to validate our worth and purpose. When it does, it's a lovely coincidence, but sometimes we just have to give ourselves permission to play the game of capitalism to survive. It is definitely the big girl thing to do sometimes! For me, it's helped so much to find a way to connect with my soul and creativity outside of work! I've been longboarding and editing my own videos. If you have a side project, when you meet up with an acquaintance, you can gloss over your job and talk about something that actually lights you up!

Expand full comment

"Honesty is the cure to writer’s block. And in my experience, it’s the cure to most other obstacles and blockades that stand in the way of hope. Unfortunately, when something discouraging or devastating or depressing happens to most of us, the last thing we want is to be honest. We want to pretend everything is fine or retreat into a safe cave inside our minds or just flat-out hide from the world, no angles, no plans, no hope involved, until things improve.

When you’re failing or you feel like you’ve failed and you’re ashamed of it, you just want to FIX IT SOMEHOW, grab the steering wheel and right the ship, SEEM better than you currently are, SOUND better than you currently feel, LOOK better than you can currently manage. You want to privately crawl out of that weedy gulley before anybody sees you there, and climb back up to the flat ground and pretend it never happened."

Wow, yes and YES. When you're a professor of rhetoric, you're supposed to be smart enough to KNOW that no one wants to hear your whiny shizz. And yet ... "Honor your feelings." I still think honoring feelings can mean sharing them, too. Thanks, as always, for your just-at-the-right-moment thots & feels!

Expand full comment