Saturday, March 6, 2010

March comes in like a lion, indeed ...

Today is the anniversary of something that has already proven to have made an impact on my career -- and will long continue to do so. Oddly, yesterday was, too, as I realized last night. And so was Thursday. And Monday was a milestone career day as well, although in a much different kind of way.

So, that whole "March comes in like a lion" thing? Yeah, I buy it.

One year ago today, on March 6, 2009, I had a meeting that changed my career -- and, really, my entire life. In a matter of minutes, I went from being employed at a place where I'd worked for nearly seven years to only having a couple of months left at said job courtesy of an impending reorganization, kicking off what I referred to as "the ultimate PRofessional test" in a guest post I wrote for Rachel Esterline's blog a week and a half later.

On the surface, losing your job is a bad thing. (Note those three words: "on the surface"). But once you get past the surface and stop focusing on how you think you're supposed to feel or how others are telling you you should feel, you might find a whole new world.

Anyone who has gotten to know me during the past year knows that I chose to approach being unemployed as a professional and personal opportunity rather than as something bad that happened to me. It turns out that that benefited not only me, but also others. Just the other day, I was reminded of this by a friend who recently lost her job and was able to land back on her feet relatively quickly. In an e-mail, she said, "Whether you know it or not, all those posts you've been making for a year now really gave me a positive outlook when it happened to me." Wow!

But I digress ...

When I found out that my job was being eliminated, it came at a strange time. The day before, I'd had a really fun, creative shoot for "Inside Central," the TV show on which I'd worked for several years (my clip starts at the 20:28 mark; and yes, the way I did my stand-up was my idea). And the day before that, I'd achieved something very exciting for a PR pro: My first hit in The Wall Street Journal, which came without the aid of ProfNet, HARO or anything else. It was completely self-generated, which made it all the more satisfying to accomplish.

So, imagine the feeling of being on a huge professional high on Wednesday and Thursday, then losing your job on Friday. That's exactly what happened!

In an oddly similar -- and almost identically timed, which I failed to realize until yesterday -- twist, it was March 5, 2002, when my young career hit a scary bump. I was working as a print journalist at the time, and the day started out like any other ... but it ended up being the most frightening day of my entire professional life. It was the day that the worst crime in the history of the county occurred: Three people were shot and killed in the parking lot of the county courthouse.

Covering this horrible crime was terrifying and draining on so many levels. And I still clearly remember one of my bosses saying, "This is the kind of day that either reminds you that this is the job you were meant to do or sends you running in the opposite direction."

A few weeks later, I had a job interview downstate for an advertising copywriting job. I ended up not taking the job, but I did switch roles at the paper when an opportunity to transition to community news -- honor rolls, birth announcements, senior citizen card showers, military honors, etc. -- arose. Ultimately, I ended up leaving the paper (and the news business) altogether just five months after the incident.

So, the first week of March and I have a pretty bumpy history, but ...

The tide seems to be turning, and March seems to be coming in more like a lamb in 2010.

On Monday, I marked a truly happy early-March career milestone: 10 months after my first day of unemployment, I started the job I told you all about a few weeks back.

And the verdict? So far, so good. The commute (which I'll have to do for a few more weeks) tires me out ... but I come home every day with my soul intact, and that's more important than anything.

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