Monday Was a Hard Day
Monday was a hard day. It was a job I had been waiting and hoping for. I thought I was a shoe in. I was rejected. I asked why? Something about over qualified. Not sure what that means except perhaps a meager attempt to make me feel better. It doesn’t work . I hang up and the tears start to flow. I don’t mean a trickle, I’m talking the full faucet, puffy eyes and nose kind.
In the past, when I have that kind of reaction, there is something deeper. I’m generally pretty tough and can blow things off, but this touches something raw. I’m a middle-aged woman and my world feels just a little off kilter. Many years ago, my husband and I made a conscientious decision to have me leave a traditional career trajectory and stay at home with our then, three young sons. I opted for a career as an entrepreneur in a home based business which allowed me the flexibility I wanted to be home with my sons and still contribute to our family’s financial needs. Yes one of those home –based things that I, a professional, would have never thought I would do, but I was desperate enough to try. My sons are now grown and I have to say, have become delightful young adults, gainfully employed, kind, conscientious citizens, who are out of the nest with no intention of returning and if I had to do it all over again, I would make that same choice. The years I was able to be at home with them are priceless, but it does feel a little bit like I am being punished for a job well done. Successfully building a homebased business and raising children wreaks havoc on a resume. I have to say, in the place where I now stand I find myself a little bit lost.
The phone rings. Mary. How do I describe her; except that she isthe person in my life who is always for me. She knows me well. We have journeyed on parallel paths, so my experiences, in a very real heartfelt way, are her own. She knows what this kind of small thing can trigger and how disappointment and sadness can bring you into a very dark place very quickly. She also knows that in my core, I am the ultimate doer, and my natural reaction is to frantically scramble my way back into perceived control. Her wisdom and calm words tell me to allow myself to grieve and be still. We pray, and in my deepest being I know that all of those things that I am going to hear, things like a door closing and a window opening, and God saving me from something, and there is something better, I know these are all true; but right now, I just want to say, God what the heck? Why even dangle the carrot? Why get my hopes up? I don’t allow myself to go there. I try not to ask so many questions. Sometimes things just happen and the answers are rarely clear. I’m not saying this cynically, or with lack of faith, I’m just working on getting more comfortable with being small and leaving more to mystery.
So I take Mary’s advice…sort of. I go for the quiet part along with some internet numbing. As I’m aimlessly surfing, I stumble upon a posting Why We Need Older Women In the Workplace I read, “ By the time a woman reaches the age of 50, she’s earning 55 cents on the dollar. And because they step on and off the track, women in general have less retirement savings than men; they are less likely to be participating in employer pension plans; once they’ve left the workforce, they have a terrible time getting rehired, largely because age discrimination, which is against the law, is directed particularly at women who are past the age where society deems them attractive.” The tears really begin to flow. This article is me! I know I am capable. I know what I have to offer. I know how hard I work and that I can be a role model. How can older women become an asset in the workplace when no one is willing to let them try? I realize that demographically I find myself among the most underrepresented and undesired group of the employed. Not exactly how I saw myself, but numbers don’t lie.
In a moment of rare transparency and vulnerability I share my heart on Facebook. It totally goes against my grain, but I post the article and share about my disappointing turn of events and simply state that I am sad. And the window cracks open. The response I receive from that moment of transparency leaves me a bit speechless. I must have struck a chord. The words are thoughtful reflections, sympathetic stories , encouragements, and kind affirmations of hope and belief. A thought strikes me; “Is this what you call a tribe?” I end the day, feeling strangely heard and comforted.
The next day, I do feel better. In fact, I think I’m moving quickly through the stages of grief; not much bargaining, a little bit of anger because I do believe it is their loss, and have landed in a place of resolution fairly quickly. I resolve that I am going to continue to look for a job, but it has to be an absolute dream job. As I continuing to look, I see with fresh eyes how biased the workplace seems to be against middle aged women. I went to the website for an online marketing company that targets physicians, and they had a sales rep position open. It is advertised as a swanky, casual work environment with ping pong on the premises and after work gatherings. That in itself could be fun, but the picture of the staff is revealing; one young attractive woman surrounded by a group of men in their mid-thirties and with one older gentleman. . I quickly decided that the last thing I need; being Mama to a bunch of ping pong playing hipsters.
I also resolved to continue working at my home based businesses. As my ever wise, practical husband said, “it has worked for you all of these years”. Along with that tidbit of wisdom, he did bring home a beautiful magenta colored orchid. He knows that I prefer flowers to wine on any bad day. I recognize there is wisdom in sticking to what I know and am excited to continue with my current home based endeavors and exploring any other options that may open up.
Lastly, I am going to start a blog and perhaps at some point a podcast. It has been on my heart for a while to write. I did some initial research into this space and was astounded at how under represented middle aged woman are in the blogging world. Crazy thing that a friend pointed out is our generation is fairly techno savvy so this is somewhat baffling. We do Instagram, Facebook and some of you even tweet, Snap chat and do Facebook Live, so it certainly is not that we can’t. I’m going to step in and am excited to create a place where other middle aged, multi-faceted woman can find community and explore topics that are challenging and meaningful as well as celebrates and encourages thoughtful, living filled with joy and meaning. How do we live intentionally and creatively, what are ways that we can contribute and find and give meaning, how do we see beauty and embrace suffering that will inevitable touch us all, how do we become knowers of ourselves, and seers of God, and perhaps more importantly, how do we become known and seen by Him. You’ve inspired me with your encouragement and kind support and the possibility of creating a community of blessing. So this is my humble start, a dipping the toe into the waters, and worst case scenario, writing will be good therapy for me as I muddle through this second stage of life.