When one door closes, another one opens. That which does not kill you makes you stronger.
These and a dozen other platitudes and pick-me-ups were uttered from the mouths of well-meaning family and friends when the recession caught up with me in early 2009. A magazine editor with an electronics trade pub, I was laid off in February of that year from an already bare-bones staff after 10 years of writing, editing, traveling, and generally making the magazine sound good in the ears of its 100,000+ readers.
I was scared. This wasn’t like the last time, in 1996, when I was still living at home, still going out with my friends and partying, and still dodging responsibility. This time, I had a wife, a rent, car payments, vet bills, and all the other things that come part and parcel with, dare I say, maturity.
I quickly filed for unemployment benefits, deposited my final check, and fired off e-mails and phone calls to all the contacts and friends I had made during my career. Now they knew my job status, and they knew I was out there, looking. I felt good. People I had worked with had an eye out for me, and some actually came up with solid leads that led to good-paying freelance work.
By May, three months later, I had enough freelance work to stop collecting unemployment. And by July of that year, I was contacted by the HR person of a software developer who had found my resume on an online job site. “Wow,” I thought, “those things do work.”
For eight months, I was involved with two major freelance projects in Manhattan, and doing really well financially. I was able to pay down some of my debt, and aside from finding a job, that became my main focus. It felt so good watching credit cards fall by the wayside, with zero-dollar balances and such.
Finally, in March 2010, the software company offered me a full-time position. My official starting date was on my 39th birthday, and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve made great friends here, get to hang out in NYC, and get to do work that really engages and pushes my skills. Plus, when all is said and done, I’ve effectively doubled what I was making at the Long Island-based trade magazine.
But it hasn’t been all great: I still have a two-hour door-to-door commute on the Long Island Rail Road to deal with.
I know my story is an anomaly for these times, but it does happen.
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