I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found…

After a long silence, I’m back…in more ways than one.  I’m happy to report I’ve been gainfully employed for almost three  months now.  And I’m back to programming on my own project…and writing a blog.

Why the silence?  You would think that while I was unemployed, I’d have a lot of time to write.  And that’s true.  But as the title of this blog implies, I was lost.  I couldn’t focus on anything.

Anatomy of My Unemployment

After the initial depression and rage of being involuntarily separated, I settled into a somewhat productive rhythm where I looked for jobs, did some programming on my project, and took care of my son over the summer and doing a lot of cooking.  And all was well…OK, all was at least not totally sucky.

Soon the summer faded into autumn and I still was no closer to employment than I was the day I was let go.   By September I had only had one interview.  But not many rejections…because a rejection letter would imply that you would actually receive a response.  And a job that I had previously applied for re-opened at a local company and I re-applied.

And…nothing.  I did get a second interview and was promised a response within a week….And nothing….three weeks of calls and email to company netted….an email that they wouldn’t be extending an offer.  I had other interviews and never heard another word from all but one of the companies. 

Autumn became winter and again, I had no more prospects than on the day I was escorted out.  And the winter weather drove me inside and one of my only outlets, running, was shut off.  And more emails and calls…and no response. 

And Then a Ray of Hope

Then an interview….and then a programming assessment test (that told me I wasn’t a great programmer), then a second interview and almost 7 months from the day I was involuntarily separated, I started a new job.

The Emotional Toll of Unemployment on My Psyche

Months of being ignored made me feel more and more worthless.  Each unreturned call or email was another chip out of  my confidence.   I could make no plans and had no plans.  I had no schedule other than getting my son up for school and being here when he finished.

And as a result, I couldn’t focus.  I’d sit in front of the computer to program or write…and…nothing.  I’d mess around on Facebook or play games or go play on the Wii.

 What I Learned from This Ordeal

  • I (apparently) am a more structured person than I thought I was  – I’ve always thought I was more of a random person, but apparently I need structure.  I had no schedule or anything to frame my day. And I got nothing done.  Since returning to the nicely structured world of 9:00 – 5:00, I am able to get more accomplished in less time because I think I know I only have x minutes to do something, so I focus and do it.
  • “I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me” – I guess I needed Stuart Smalley with me during the dark days of my unemployment.  In my new job, I’ve been able to jump in and be really useful – in fact, coming up with a solution for a problem that the vendor hadn’t figured out yet. Self confidence certainly takes a beating when you’re unemployed and it’s hard to remember that you are as good as you think you are.  See this excellent article by Pamela Slim.
  • Working as part of a team sure beats the lone wolf approach – In my new position, I’m part of a group supporting a couple of systems and we are part of a bigger team supporting a whole line of systems.  And I like it!  Although we’re dealing with the challenge of coordinating changes and activities, it’s a refreshing change from having to do everything yourself!  For most of my career, I’ve been the only person working on a project or, in the case of my previous employer, the only IT person responsible for all of the systems.  Having a much smaller, focused scope of work is…refreshing.

Mike Has Found His Groove

I feel like I’m finally getting back in the groove.  I realized that despite being ignored, rejected, and told that I’m not a good programmer, I AM a decent programmer.  Maybe I’ll never build truly amazing, transformational software, but I’m a decent developer.  I have the desire and stubbornness to not give up on problems.  I may be a bit of a jack of all trades, but it continues to serve me well. 

So, I’m back and I’m getting back to development and blogging. 

I am geek, hear me roar!!!

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