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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

Happy Anniversary To Me

Today is my anniversary, and that's not a good thing. I will not be celebrating with flowers or champagne or a nice dinner because there's nothing to celebrate. Five years ago I became my own boss, but it wasn't my choice. I was in the middle of updating the company website when I was called into the conference room and laid off. I couldn't have been more surprised, and that's probably the thing that stings the most even five years later. I certainly should have seen it coming. The signs were SO obvious, but I was SO oblivious. It was one of those "it can't happen to me" kind of things, but it did happen to me.

If it has ever happened to you then you know exactly how much it sucks. The first few days weren't bad because my family and friends surrounded me with lots of love and support and booze and chocolate and hugs, but eventually people go back to their lives. I couldn't go back to my life because my job was my life.

What do you do when you don't have a job? Some people would use that time to further their education; lose weight and get in shape; write a best-selling novel; start a non-profit organization to help the homeless; find another job. I didn't do any of those things. I sat very still on the couch in my pajamas and stared out the window. My mind was blank and also full at the same time. It was like watching a movie inside my head. I would do this for hours. Sometimes I would change up my routine. I'd go outside and stare at a tree while the movie played in my head. Sometimes I woud wear yoga pants instead of pajamas. Sometimes I would even shower and wash my hair but not that often. It took too much effort.

Was I depressed? Hell yes, I was depressed and mad and sad and every other feeling. Thank God people didn't try to cheer me up because that's the worst. Sometimes you just have to feel all the feelings and be done with it.

While staring into space I'm sure It probably seemed like I was doing nothing, but what I was doing was very, very important. I was trying to figure out how to go from giving 24/7 to my job/career to no longer doing that. Let me tell you, that's a very, very, very difficult thing to do but it's absolutely vital. If you or someone you love is going through this please know that you cannot skip that step so just be patient and as understanding as possible. My husband was and is patient/understanding, and I'm forever grateful for that because if the shoe had been on the other foot I don't know that I would have been that gracious.

I don't have any other words of wisdom to offer. It happened. It sucked. I lived over it, and now five years has passed. I'm my own boss these days, and that's pretty cool except for the fact that my boss can sometimes be a moody bitch.

Speaking of moody bitches, I recently read "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler. What she has to say about her showbiz career really resonated with me. I wish she had written this several decades ago because I think it applies to every career. It's actually brilliant, and is the exact opposite of what I always believed to be true. This is what she has to say: Ambivalence is key to success. AMBIVALENCE IS KEY. You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.

I realize this is extremely difficult. I am not saying I am particularly good at it. I'm like you or maybe you're better at this than I am.

You will never climb career mountain and get to the top and shout, "I made it." You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other. Our ego is a monster that loves to sit at the head of the table, and I have learned that my ego is just as rude and loud and hungry as everyone else's. It doesn't matter how much you get; you are left wanting more. Success is filled with MSG.

Ambivalence can help tame the beast. Remember, your career is a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you don't depend on it. It will reward you every time you don't act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you. If your career is a bad boyfriend, it is healthy to remember you can always leave and go sleep with somebody else.

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