1.05.2010

Job Identity

This being jobless is just the pits. I am having such a difficult time dealing with it. I've been without a job before, twice – but nothing like this. Before, I had “just” a job. I was “just” a secretary. I have been a secretary for 40 years. Which is funny, since I majored in Social Work in college. I stopped my education at a Bachelor's, because I got married and had a couple children, never going on to get a Master's – and therefore, never really working as a Social Worker. Settling for “just” a secretary.

Then in 2000, my human resources manager, at the firm I was last working for, found an inner switch in me and turned me on. I was working for an attorney in estate and tax planning. I believed strongly that I had found my niche. I found my calling. Both the HR gal and my main attorney saw the light in me and steadfastly encouraged me to bloom.

With their encouragement, I started the Spokane chapter of NALS, a national association for professional non-attorneys – paralegals, legal secretaries, legal assistants – anyone who worked in the legal field who was not an attorney. I had 30 people show up to the initial charter meeting and eight members joined. At the end of my two years as president (oh, yeah, I was elected president, too), I had 18 members.

I wrote articles for the national website and for our state publication. Topics ranged from having an attitude of professionalism, to ethics as a tool to enhance your attorney and your firm. I organized the state magazine for two years, and received great praise and accolades for my efforts.

It was like a spiritual awakening for me to find that “magic” in my job. It was no longer just a job – but a passion. Gone was the attitude of nine-to-five, quit and run at the 5:00 bell. I was no longer “just” a secretary, but a professional, a highly skilled professional secretary with qualifications that included typing at the speed of sound, grammar acuity like a manual in my head, the ability to read my attorney's mind and anticipate his every need, multi-tasking skills and juggling like a pro, excelling at what I did best with efficiency, accuracy, and talent, all with a high standard of professionalism that shown like a bight star.

I rode on the waves of praise and appreciation from my attorneys, my office administrator, and my human resources manager. I jumped out of bed every morning, joyfully looking forward to my chance to go to work, with a thrill of excitement that I had this great gift of the best job ever!

Then the firm hit a snag in the road when one of their top-producing, multi-million dollar attorneys left, taking with him his multi-million dollar clients. Over the next three years, we closed a branch office, we let several people go, then the firm fired the office administrator and months later, the same with the human resources manager. My two greatest fans. Over the last year, we continued to downsize, and ultimately I felt the blade of the ax across my virtual neck, so to speak, and the dream job ended.

It has been devastating to me to not be able to continue with my job. I have discovered that my job was my identity. It defined me, it showed who I was, it declared my integrity and professionalism. There is a person that lumps on the couch, depressed and unfocused, who looks like me – but it is not me. I am the professional secretary with skills and talents that are bubbling up, overflowing. That person on the couch is a total stranger.

I want “me” back!

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2 comments:

Word Tosser said...

We, especially women, have many faces... many parts of life. We are wife, mom, grandmother, even great grandmother (some of us) and we are friend... even aquaintance to many.... all of this is part of us... while all of these measure some part of us...none of them seem to be as important as the "me" of the job. The job face... I don't know why that is, as we are quite happy with all the rest, each of them fill us and make us happy. But our job, seems to measure us, fills our ego, we feel we make a difference that is seen. The rest we make a difference, as wife, mother, and friend.. but some how... this is different. And it does put us in a flunk... and with yours... your health seems like to slice you in half, as all the other parts lean on a whole you. It is scary, because we want to be in control of ourselves, and this blows it. And then you add WINTER...
So hang in there, with Spring and sunshine, and finding the positive side of you again... you will remember this as a bump in the road. How does this come around.. it is by recognizing it for what it is... and then write down 3 things you are glad about for today.
Good luck and remember all of us over on HBO are pulling for you... and send you silent or even noisy ((((((HUGS)))))))!!!!!!!

JeanieSpokane said...

Thank you so much for your input on this. Words to live by. ((Word Tosser)). My humor is coming back, slowly. And your three good things suggestion will be my next task! thank you again, so much. Hugs right back! (I love HBO)