On Wednesday morning, we were smacked with another bout of ice. I was sure it was going to make me late to work, and since my recent frequent absences had basically put me on attendance probation at my job, I was certain being tardy would be the death knell. I'd been threatened with possible termination if I missed any more work and/or showed up late for any reason. Most of the offices where I applied would not accommodate scheduling interviews around my 8-5 job, so I had to call off work several times during my job search. I knew it was putting me on thin ice with my boss, but it couldn't be helped if I was to escape that place. So, knowing I would likely lose my job for being late for having to drive on Mother Nature's version of an Ohio Slip 'N' Slide, I made a tough call. At 6:23 a.m., I emailed my boss and HR. "It's not a good fit," I wrote, "and I won't be back. Thanks for everything, but farewell." (Of course my email was a bit more professional than that, but that was the gist of it.)
It was definitely a leap of faith and/or what some might call foolishness to quit before I had a solid job offer. I mean, while my hardworking kiddo is almost full-time at Kroger and contributes in many ways while she saves up for her own car and future, I'm still the breadwinner (and that's 35-calorie bread, mind you!). I still have two people and three dogs to feed, still pay all the utilities and the rent, still have to stock the place with toilet paper and dish soap and dryer sheets and keep gas in our one car. But there were a couple of factors that played into my Wednesday-morning decision. First and foremost, I had a Civil Service Exam on Thursday for a city job, and that exam couldn't be rescheduled; if I missed it, I had no chance at the job, and if I went to it, I'd lose my current one for another absence. On Tuesday evening, a temp agency I've worked with before called to let me know they would likely have some job leads for me on Friday. Then, as soon as I hung up from that call, I received a call from a recruiter at a job I interviewed for a week ago, and she made me a verbal offer, contingent on me doing well on some assessments I had to complete ASAP. I considered all these things as I had my morning coffee talk with the good Lord, and on Hump Day, I decided to put the scourge of that former job behind me.
It was scary to send that email, and it took me a few moments to actually press send and put myself out of my misery. But, after I quit, I forged on. I studied arithmetic for the upcoming Civil Service Exam. Thursday, after taking that exam that I'm relatively certain I did not do well on (it's been thirty years since I had to find a lowest common demoninator, so my apologies to Mr. Gustafson, my senior-year math teacher),I hopped online to take the assessments for the other job. I also gave my resume another once-over and combed the job ads once more. Ultimately, I must have done pretty well on the assessments, because on Friday evening, I received a written offer. Thus, tomorrow morning, I'll be calling my new HR department at my new company to iron out the details, and I couldn't be happier that it has finally come to that.
Why am I telling you all this on a website geared at nutrition and dieting? Because I love to find connections in life's lessons that apply to every aspect. In this case, I've had to learn or relearn something I should have already grasped in my forty-eight years: Where there's a will, there's (usually) a wait.
I started looking for a new job back in November, when my dissatisfaction at my now-former employer became too much to bear, manifesting in sleepless nights, physical symptoms, depression, tears, even vomiting a time or two, and exacerbated stress and anxiety. I had become a miserable shell of myself because of the job and the workplace environment and culture, constantly obsessing about it and talking about nothing else to my family and friends and canines. My darling daughter was worried about her mother's mental state, and I couldn't blame her. At one point, even my dogs started rolling their eyes and going to the other room. Funny that my company motto was "We protect what matters most," because it seemed to be doing the opposite for me. It cannot be blamed solely on them, but I needed out. It might be an okay job for some, but it just wasn't where I was supposed to be. I knew within the first week that I'd made a colossal misstep in taking the job, so the last six months of it were almost intolerable.
Did you see that? Six months! For around 126 days, I dragged myself into that place that I affectionately came to call The Pit of Despair (I actually envied the Dread Pirate Roberts, as I assumed his situation was less torturous.) All the while, I undertook a job search. I was pretty confident at first, because I've never really had too much trouble landing jobs. In fact, I had a pretty good batting average for interviews, offered almost every job I'd interviewed for in the past, often having the luxury of having to choose between multiple job offers. This time, though, God had other plans. This time, I had a lesson to learn about patience. I applied for about forty-seven jobs from listings on Indeed and Ohiomeansjobs. I sent out twenty cold resumes to companies I was familiar with or wanted to work for. I went on five interviews, seven if you count the phone screenings. I had to get creative here and there with excuses to miss work. I spent every break combing job ads. I revised my resume three times and spent countless quarters printing off new versions at the public library. I prayed relentlessly and asked everyone I knew (including you kind folks) to pray for me. I contacted people I knew long ago to see if they'd be references for me and even took the risk of asking a current co-worker for a letter of reference (albeit someone in another department, as I'm not stupid!). I even contacted my former supervisors and co-workers and begged them to let me know if they saw any job openings that would fit my skills. I did everything I could possibly think of, yet nothing came about. And, all the while, I had to keep working at that place that was draining my soul on a daily basis.
Presumably in the next week or two, I'll be starting a new, challenging job that will use more of my skills. I feel terrified, excited, and motivated by the position in an office that is literally brand new, being painted and carpeted as I type this. The job offers a $4/hour pay raise, more than I've ever made in my life or ever expected to, along with great benefits. I think back to all the Dear John letters I've received recently, from companies that interviewed me, and I am embarrassed at how I reacted. I was angry that no one wanted me, and I didn't understand why God wouldn't let me out of that place. Now, I know it's because He wanted me to learn that waiting has its benefits. The company I will work for is a new facility in our county, one that wasn't even open when I first started applying at places. If any of the positions I looked into had been offered to me, I would have taken them, for less pay and less benefits and worse hours. I grumbled. I whined. I even yelled at God a time or two. At one point, I recall having a long, weepy conversation with my Jack Russell about her mommy being useless and no one wanting me anymore. "Maggie, please don't be mad at Mommy if we have to move into a box in an alley," I said, sniffling. "Mommy will make sure we are next to a dumpster, so you'll have scraps." I fell into self-doubt and feared I would either become jobless and homeless or forever be chained to that desk, robotically entering insurance codes among a group of people who said about two words to me in that whole six months. And all of this was so familiar to me, because it is also often part of the weight-loss journey.
I love Reese's cups. I enjoy fast food. I have an affinity for large portions of cheese. Not eating those things is a sort of Pit of Despair all its own. I whine. I complain. I get mad at God that I can't eat what I want whenever I want, because I need to lose 62 pounds. I sob to my pup that her mommy is never, ever going to be thin again. But I know - maybe now more than ever - that the wait is essential to the weight. Anyone who has gone on this quest knows this, but sometimes we forget, and in our despair, we give in. To reiterate just how long it might take, check out these statements from some women who have fought the battle:
"Over the course of two and a half years, I lost more than 140 pounds."
"Over the course of three years, I lost more than 50 pounds with some exercise and counting calories."
"It took me six years to lose 53 pounds. The first 10 were very easy to lose... But continuing to lose weight was more difficult and, at times, I even gained some back."
"Over the course of the past 10 years, I lost 80 pounds."
(See their stories at https://www.womenshealthmag.co
Two and a half years? Three years? Six years? Ten? Yes, and it could take even longer if you have weeks like I did this past one (I only lost half-pound but assumed I'd gain ten!) Let my job search be your reminder that perseverance is worth it, that we must keep toiling and striving and get through those whining sessions and setbacks and keep going, that we cannot let self-doubt or worry or "failures" get in the way of our weighs. My daughter puts $2 in her Thin Clothes Fund for every pound she loses, and she's well aware that it will likely take this whole year or longer for her to be able to go on that shopping spree. I'm aiming to have a mom/daughter photo taken during our birthday week in September, and I'm honest enough with myself to know that we might not be at our goal weights in that photo, but we'll still be smaller than we are now. We had a major setback on Single Awareness Day when the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates got the best of us, as did a run-in with Pizza Hut. But we will wait, and we will work at it, and we will get there, and it will be worth it.
Keep counting calories. If you fall off the wagon, put the Russell Stover and stuffed-crust down and get back on it. Voice your complaints about the difficulty of your journey if you have to, even if it's only to your dog. But do not quit. Do not give up. Do not think that you will never get out of your Pit of Despair, because if you have a will to put in the work while you wait on your ideal weight, you will get there, and it might just be better than you ever expected!