Last time I told a little tale about “disassociation”, my view of what begins to happen as a former employee has less and less contact with the former job over time. I said that ex-employees slowly begin to think of themselves in terms other than associated with the company. The morph begins here. Some people, extroverts especially, begin to show withdrawal symptoms from mild to severe from the instant social network that the old job used to provide so finding a new job might in reality be an attempt to quickly end the uncomfortable position of not having a social “nest” to be in. The introvert may show withdrawal brought on by the absence of a “place to go every day”;  the background noise of the old job in another way. However, since the greatest problem for an introvert might be “invisibility” on the job (what do you DO here anyway?), the task of finding a new place with the right background noise is agonizing and tiring because of suddenly having to talk  so much to so many new people. Please put an end to this agony quick once again.

Six months later, however, in some job seekers‘ heads  attention and interest begins to wane. It may take more effort to keep focused on the passion As the “old work identity” begins to dissolve like an Alka Seltzer tablet. The dispossessed, disincorporated former employee begins the real search for a new home; a new body,  I would say. This is stage two of the shape shift; a place where the seeker is not what she was nor what she will be.

As I remember, this was the place in the process where my self-image imploded. I tried on jobs and titles one after another and became increasingly frustrated because none of them felt “right”. Questions about where exactly I fit in society got me out of bed at 3:00a.m. for weeks. Nothing is more stressful than to have to put some title, any title on a resume. Nothing is more mortifying than stumbling through a makeshift answer to “what do you bring to the table?”, another form of , “tell us about yourself”. What belongs in that blank space? Nobody I knew had any answers. I was expected to figure it out on my own as most good career counselors usually recommend. What do you really want to do? What is your real basic passion?

But, “figuring it out on my own” takes time. So much time without a landing target frustrates networking partners because to them it  looks like a lack of focus or seriousness.  It seems so much easier to just stumble into yet another short-term “throw away” job. End the pain fast. Never face the real question. Hide from the real answer. The next step is life or death: stay a formless blob or snatch up the courage to participate in creating the new reality; making the new body.

That is the place where I ran out of tears. I decided to become myself.