Breaking Up Is Hard To Do - Goodbye!
by Jon Minners
"Listen, I've given this a lot of thought and I have come to the conclusion that things are just not working out," I said, looking tenderly into the big circular eyes of my current companion. "It's not you...it's me. I just don't think I am able to commit anymore to this relationship and it's better to just end it now than drag it out."
With that, my year-long relationship was over. Me and 2009 were through. I had to say goodbye. And although I could tell it hurt, 2009 stormed off into the next room, packed its bags and walked out of my life. But like any relationship, it will be a few weeks before my relationship with 2009 is officially over. There is going to be that last blast of alcohol fueled sex on December 31, but come midnight, I will find a new year to ruin my life and take half my soul. In the meantime, 2009 and I are sorting through this breakup, deciding on a number of issues affecting us both. For instance, what will we do about our mutual friends? I have decided to let 2009 keep unemployment, foreclosures and financial disaster while I will keep hard work, determination and never-quit. Those guys know how to party and I don't want to lose them.
Like millions of people around the world, I can't wait to say goodbye to 2009. Not only will I be able to say goodbye to the most annoying glasses of the last decade, but maybe...just maybe...I can say hello to a better world. 2009 began with so much promise. On December 31, 2008, I went to the Huntington Hilton in Long Island for a massive blowout to welcome in the New Year with more promise than ever before. I had a great time. The food was amazing, the drinks kept flowing, and after it was all said and done, I didn't have to travel far to pass out in bed. The actual start to 2009 brought a breakfast buffet complete with both an omelet and waffle station...always a welcome addition to anyone's life. I went home with a smile on my face, looking forward to what 2009 had in store for me.
Later, as I sat by my computer screen watching coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration, I felt a sense of promise. Surely, America was changing for the better with the election of its first black president. How could one not believe 2009 would be their year? But that was not the case. The economy had another idea, not just for me, but this whole world. I had lived through several recessions, but they were so small they barely even registered an impact in my world. When you get through rough economies, it's almost hard not to believe you are invulnerable to the nations problems. How wrong I was.
In 2008, I decided to make a major change in my life. I decided to leave full-time journalism behind. So many hats I wore, but I wanted an entire new suit and I took a position in public relations. Unfortunately for me, the job I applied to was a temporary assignment; a job meant to set me up for my transition into this new career. At the time of my decision, I thought to myself, I am an excellent worker. You don't rise through the ranks of a newspaper so quickly without having a strong work ethic and great skills to match. I knew that when my assignment was complete, I would have my pick of public relations jobs, because I would prove myself in a short period of time.
And I did prove myself, landing several stories in major media outlets all over the nation and even Canada, Mexico and Japan. There was no doubt in my mind that when my contract was over, I would find a job fast. But the economy officially tanked in November 2008 and I remember that day well, because I was working an night-time gig and proud of the fact that I got through my first major event as a public relations rep. On my way home, I noticed so many news trucks outside Lehman Brothers and I never realized the impact it would have. Even when newspapers covered the collapse of Wall Street, I couldn't comprehend the disaster that awaited. "The economy will pick up after America becomes more certain of its direction. Once the election is over, things will get better." Obama won the election and the economy got a little worse. "Once Obama takes office, he will fix things." And Obama took office and the economy got worse, still. "I'm not making that much money...this is only affecting people making $100,000 a year and more...I'm sure I will find a job."
On March 6, 2009, I officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. After 15 straight years of some form of employment, I was at home...every day. It would pass, I thought. I made getting a job my new job, and so I woke up at 8 a.m., drank coffee, bought a paper and then started sending out my resume until 5 p.m., sometimes later, each day...every day, including weekends. They say unemployed people send out resumes on average 1 or 2 hours a day. I'd like to think I drove up those statistics, but yet, nothing was coming through. Apparently, no one had heard of how great Jon Minners was or no one cared. Suddenly, I no longer felt that great about my skills. I entered a bit of depression, believing that maybe I was fooling myself all these years...maybe I would be unemployed forever...or maybe I would have to leave my dreams of being a writer behind for a life working in a field I would never enjoy - stewing, and longing for what once was. Or maybe I would end up homeless - you don't have to live on the streets to be homeless...even if friends and family did take me in. The You, Me & Dupree situation wouldn't work in the long run and having "7 different kinds of smoke" wouldn't land me a book gig and the admiration of Lance Armstrong. Life doesn't work out like they do in the movies.
Then the interviews started coming. Some I failed miserably while others had left me with a good feeling. I had just completed several interviews with a city agency and I made it to the final two, knocking my final interview out of the park. I was sure I got the job and I decided to go out and enjoy one day of peace and relaxation. I ran the track at Astoria Park. It felt good. I deserved one day to myself and it was a beautiful day. There wouldn't be any more days like this when I started working again. But I missed a call during my adventure. It was the agency I had been interviewing with and they left a message; the kind that came across like there was good news in store for me. I called them back anxiously, excited that my good day would become great. Nope. They decided to go with someone else. Although the position didn't require it, a bad economy led someone with a plethora of management experience to apply for a job they never would have applied for before, and thus a job I would have been offered any other time in any other situation became a job for someone else. It would be a growing theme. I had more than enough experience as a journalist and not enough experience as a public relations rep. I was overqualified for a position in a dying industry and under-qualified for a position in a competitive field. Well, that just sucks.
But does it? 2009 was horrible, but I am going to look at it a bit differently - and say that my dilemma led me down a path and in the end, I was a lot better off as a result. I won't realize how better off I am until the fruits of my work play out in the future, but there is a silver lining under the dark cloud of unemployment. The job I left behind last year still uses me to freelance all the time. I am doing things in journalism that I only dreamed of doing years before, but never had the time due to my lack of free-time. In fact, I actually had an opportunity to freelance for a major daily, which was a dream come true for me since I first decided I wanted to be a journalist in Mr. Shaw's 1st grade writing class. Check that off my bucket list. The contacts I made during my stay at the paper led me to several part-time and freelance job opportunities that have taught me so much more than I thought possible in both the fields of journalism and public relations. I learned a valuable lesson - never burn a bridge, which I am glad I never did...and always network with your contacts.
I learned that same lesson while at my first PR job. It was there that I met someone I would like to think of as a mentor. While she developed my strengths, she helped me deal with my weaknesses and helped me land a part-time job that guided me into the New Year. Part-time or not, it sure feels good not to be home, and actually working in an office setting. Here, I have made new friends, made valuable contacts and learned a bit about myself in the process. Lessons learned - learning is a never-ending process and when our back is up against the wall, we are all capable of doing some amazing things. I will talk more about these lessons in the future.
But I will tell you this...Do you remember when you have a bad relationship and that person puts you through the wringer on a physical and emotional level, but when it is over, you just realize how much better you are today than you were yesterday? Even when you make mistakes and you are broken up with and you enter a new relationship, if you are paying attention, isn't it funny how that relationship is so much better because you learned from your stupidity and no longer make the same mistakes? 2009 is like that. It put me through the wringer and scarred me. I never worked so hard to be rejected at every turn. But I never quit and in the end, I picked up more experience than ever before. My resume is pretty impressive. I know how to sell myself better and how to enter an interview with much more confidence than ever before. I know I can get the job done, no matter what it is. And I learned to save money. Living off unemployment helps you learn to appreciate the little things in life. Living off of part-time wages does the same. I know now that when I do enter the full-time workforce again, I will be a whole lot better off. And I may be able to own that house I always wanted to own, because I will save money rather than throw it away at the latest game or movie I will forget about, sometimes before the wrapping comes off.
So, even though 2009 and I decided to part ways, rather than kick her out the door and forget about her, we decided to remain friends. I go to her when I have troubles and need to remember how to overcome the odds. And I look forward to my relationship with 2010. We are getting to know each other and are taking it slow. She's a little older and a bit wiser. I think our relationship might be a little better. I am taking what I learned from 2009 and applying it to something new. Big things are going to happen this year. And if we don't get along, at least I know the sex will be great!
For more witty commentary from Jon Minners, visit his blog, The Milk's Gone Bad, at http://tmgbblog.blogspot.com/.