Going back to work is like getting back on a bicycle

bicycle raceIt’s much easier said than done, but going back to work is like getting back on a bicycle.

I remember that day, more than 10 years ago, like it was yesterday. After six long months of being unemployed, I was driving to an interview. It was time to get back on my bicycle.

Those six-months of unemployment were the worst of my life, bar none. As I drove the 45 minutes to the interview, I was consumed with the thought, I’m not ready to go back to work. I didn’t feel the confidence I would need do well at the interview. I was surely going to bomb for sure.

I felt like getting off at the next exit. Just turn back and go home. Not only was I interviewing for a position I wasn’t familiar with; I was about to change my career. Going from marketing and attempting to enter career development wasn’t going to be easy. “I’m going to bomb,” I told myself.

Prior to the interview my wife and I had a blowout fight—one among many during my unemployment. You see, what they don’t tell you in the school of the job search is that being out of work affects not only you, it strains relationships with the people you love, as well.

Depression,  anxiety, anger, feelings of hopelessness, and other maladies are not uncommon during the course of unemployment. It’s not something people want to succumb to; it just happens. Unemployment is a test of couples’ will, and it impacts families and friends. Most will go through a period of grief, others will seek the help of a therapist, and others will require medication.

My job search hadn’t been a smooth transition. I went on interviews for positions that weren’t in marketing and didn’t do well. I stayed with three young children who demanded constant attention, so there wasn’t a lot of time to focus on the steps to take necessary for a successful search. My dog walking business felt more demeaning than productive, and being the only father at playgroup was embarrassing. So now it was time to get back on the bicycle.

The director, Sharon, and I sat side by side with a small table separating us. I immediately felt like she was in my space. I was going to bomb. She asked me questions about my background, questions that seemed more out of curiosity than trying to find faults in my character and employment history. I asked questions at appropriate times throughout the interview. She led the interview like a discussion.

I had this sense of calmness and lucidity, evolving into confidence and enthusiasm. Hell, I didn’t know if I could do the job, but I was willing to try. The argument I had with my wife was buried in my mind. My answers were direct and articulate. They must have impressed her. I wasn’t going to bomb. “I want you to meet our marketing manager,” she said.

Pat welcomed me into her office like a school nurse. The only question I remember during the entire interview was hers, “What do you look for in an office environment?” I told her a professional environment but also one with banter and practical jokes. A smirk appeared on her face.

I was offered the job that day. All that was left to do was spend a day doing intakes with my job developer. I wasn’t getting paid for it; it was more like a situation aspect of the interview to see if I was right for the role and the role was right for me. Then I would tell Sharon if I wanted the job.

My wife told me I should take the job even though it paid 18K less than my previous one. The commute will suck I told her. I don’t know if I can handle the job I confided. Don’t know if I’ll like it. A lot of uncertainty, a lot of doubt, not sure I wanted to return to work.

Another thing they don’t tell you in the school of the job search is nothing’s for certain. There isn’t a crystal ball that will predict your future. Coordinating a program to help people with disabilities learn how to use Microsoft applications sounded interesting, but could I do it?

It turned out that I excelled at this new position. I learned more in three months than I did in seven years while peddling software applications I didn’t particularly care for. In this new position I was making a difference in people’s lives. I was a natural.

Most importantly…I got back on my bicycle. And things went back to normal.

Photo courtesy of dnuospeelsa, flickr

4 thoughts on “Going back to work is like getting back on a bicycle

  1. donna

    great article and love the ending!
    i’m prepping to go back to work full time after a life transtition and being a stay at home mom for 13 years! …daunting!


  2. vlbrown

    Then there are those of us who realize, after the “job elimination” that we were far more stressed by the job than we know. My latest period of unemployment hasn’t been the worst months. It’s been the best. My feelings of anxiety and depression only begin to rise when I’m looking at job postings.

    Commute. Manager. Performance reviews. Noise. Cubicles (or worse, far worse: open plan office space).

    I’m getting anxious just thinking about those things.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      It’s not secret that your comment about open-space office speaks to your introversion. Mainly because you are an introvert, and I highly intelligent one at that. Yes, I didn’t mention what a relief it was to get laid off from my marketing gig. Thanks for commenting, Vicki.



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