"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings." ~Lewis Carroll~
Every New Beginning Comes From
Some Other Beginning's End
After 20 years at DMNS (17 of those as paid staff) my time came to an end. Not voluntarily, but necessarily. Such are the times of COVID-19. Strategic pivots are facts of life in the museum world, especially so in times of economic and social uncertainty. If you're in the field long enough, this comes for you too. Only the luckiest of us never experience one. This time - it came for me. In the end, what matters is the Museum remains secure and solvent in this moment of history. And it will. I'm confident.
So, my last day of work was October 9th, 2020 and the Museum declared its separation with me on the 15th of October. I was stunned, shocked, sad, afraid.. all of those. For the first time in my life, I didn't have a plan, or even a plan for a plan. But after about 48 hours, an unexpected feeling began to creep in: freedom.
For the first time in my adult life, every choice was up to me. For now, there no more meetings, no more projects, no more politics. I'll glad come back to those when the time is right, they come with the work that needs to be done. But for now? This moment? I'm free. And I will embrace this moment. But it wasn't long until panic began to settle back in. I'm jobless. During the worst economic downturn in history. In a field that is already super over saturated with will qualified, brilliant people. Now exacerbated as flocks of museum professionals across the country are let go and furloughed - just like me. ... Well, poop...
Breathe. Always remember to breathe.
I'm good with this. Applying for jobs and writing cove letters detailing my passions and my products over 17 years in museum collections management. I'm pretty awesome. It feels god to feel good about me. I found a TEDxDocklands Talk by Anthony Metivier some months ago and his two questions of stuck with me:
"Are my thoughts useful? How do they behave?"
I have come back to this countless times in the last few weeks since getting let go. They've helped me focus my energies into being productive and pragmatic. Yes, I still have frustration there, just below the surface, but when it gets to much and I'm just stewing and flailing, I go back to those two questions. Refocus. Its not about not feeling, its about allowing yourself to feel them for a little at time - like a pressure release - and then returning to your life.
I've now put together 7 serious applications in the last in 3 weeks. Another will go in tonight. I have to apply for 5 total a week to maintain my unemployment benefits, so some of those are jobs as big box store stockroom associates. I'm often told that I'm not qualified for those jobs as I have no experience stocking shelves or ordering merchandise. I find these humorous. But at the end of the day. They're right. I have not that experience in that environment. I'd still gladly do it while I find my next position.
Right now, as I type this. I'm watching the nation vote. And I'm at peace. I'm applying for for some incredible opportunities around the country and would be ecstatic if I eventually get to join any of their teams. A new beginning will come along, and I will welcome it with open arms with all of me. But, right now its about the journey - the journey between an end, and a beginning. Tomorrow and the weeks that follow may be chaotic- but RIGHT NOW they are not. I'm going to sit in this moment and let it wash over me because it's just that. A moment.