About a year ago, I started the process of returning to the workforce. I wanted a step-by-step and how-to article, book, manual or something to help me get a job. I started on LinkedIn and The Muse, and Glassdoor and Indeed and all these other places. I knew I needed to for sure do 3 things:
- Update my resume (are you kidding me? What do I do with that giant SAHM gap?)
- Update my LinkedIn profile (Do people really use that? How do I write something that will get me searched?)
- Network (oh boy, I have no idea if my “work pants” even fit anymore. Do I still own any? Can’t I just wear black yoga pants?)
I am pretty type A, but I have more of a perceived need to research in EVERYTHING I do than most people. Before I even touched my resume, I had to make sure I had ALL the information to update correctly and which format to use (chronological or skills-based?). Cover letter – yes, I changed it every single time I applied for a job. I also tried different formats for those (email introduction or disruptive cover letter?) Does this already sound exhausting to you? It was. But I just kept doing more of the same thing. I couldn’t just go out and DO any of this though. When am I, a SAHM who’s returning-to-the-workforce, supposed to find the time to find a full-time job? Or hell, even a part-time job? It’s full-time work staying at home and it’s full-time work finding a job – and you don’t get paid for either. When my husband ended up out of work too, finding a job became more of a priority for me than ever before and I was left drowning.
I hooked up with a friend/mentor from my church while she was taking courses to become a certified life coach. She needed coaching hours, I desperately needed the coaching. It was a divine intervention in my chaotic job search if I ever saw one. We began with some truly awesome stuff like StrengthsFinder 2.0 and some other personal development assessments. I learned some new things but was also reminded of my strengths, abilities, talents, and interests that got buried deep down when I decided to stay home.
This was all good, but my Type A personality kept saying “this is too slow.” I continued meeting with my friend because it was strengthening my soul and self-confidence. Between my actual job search and meetings with my coach, I had this nagging thought (that actually started about three years ago) about starting my own business of helping other moms return to the workforce. After applying for a few jobs, cleaning toilets, networking breakfasts when I was able, folding and putting away laundry, updating my LinkedIn profile (I still need a new picture….), making dinners, having a few phone interviews, and wiping tears and giving time-outs, I decided to take a step back and just focus on this business idea.
Some friends of mine from grad school began a workshop series called, “The Power of Your Journey”, and I decided to attend all four sessions because I thought it would kill two birds with one stone: I could learn a few things about myself, but more importantly, I could network. Maybe there I would “find a job.” I didn’t find a job through these sessions, but I did begin to think more about what one of the facilitators called a “pebble.” That nagging idea – it’s like a pebble stuck in your shoe. You think because it’s small it won’t bother you that much. But it’s still there. It might roll to the side and you won’t feel it for a bit, but it rolls back to that sensitive spot under your heel. Eventually, you have to make a choice: keep ignoring the pebble, or take the damn thing out and do something with it. It’s taken a long time for me to take my pebble out, but I have now made the choice to do so.
I struggled quite a bit after I took this pebble out – I was caught in a storm of “needing” a job for financial reasons and pursuing what I know now to be a calling. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad in reality; I know many many people have it much worse than we did during this those months. The struggle wasn’t so much financially though – the struggle for me was letting go of the notion that I was ONLY meant to be a SAHM and rediscovering who I am NOW because I stayed home.
Not all women feel called to take on an outside role if they don’t have to. My mother didn’t and I have friends who don’t. Personally, and I do mean personally, I had nudging feeling my whole life that I wasn’t only meant to be a mom. That is, without a doubt, my most important role on this earth, but it is not my only role. I have a calling to do something to serve God and fullfilling that calling has become my “job search.” Through my faith – which wavered at times (much like my confidence and self-esteem) – I was able to stay strong during this storm.
Currently, I live in dual roles and the emotions and thoughts that come with that are like raindrops to me. Rain that can keep me cold and wet and depressed, or rain that comes out during the sun and makes me want to dance and splash in the puddles. The rain can keep us drowning on our toughtest days and the rain can be used to make us grow. I think of my faith as an umbrella, have decided to walk through the rain because ultimately, I am not in control. I cannot make the rain stop, but I can choose how to react to it using my faith umbrella as protection, a shield, a sword, a walking stick, and a boat to get through the rain.
It is through this analogy that I share my stories. The purpose of creating a community of women that empathize, encourage, and empower each other to use their faith and walk through the rain – the kind that drowns and the kind that grows.
This blog post is part of The Lake Country Mom #REALLIFESERIES. This was written by a local mom, Tracy Gingrass as was willing to share her story.
You can find more of her writings at Returning Through Raindrops.