The misfortune of being laid off in February. In Maine.

Living in Maine and being a creative professional who has been on the chopping block in at least three of my most recent jobs, I’ve always dreamed of being laid off in the middle of a beautiful Maine summer. Ah, severance and the beach — what could be better? I had always looked at jobs as a necessary evil, and the idea of a (short) mandatory break wasn’t unwelcome. But, alas, I got my pink slip when I wanted it least: Seven months into the best job I’d ever had. And in February.

It’s bad enough that it’s already a horribly depressing time of year, in an already horribly depressing year. The anxiety of how to pay the mortgage was pressing. But even worse was the thought that I had finally gotten pleasure out of a job, and had been paid well to do it. I was afraid it would never happen again. So what to do now? After a week of sleeping in, losing track of time (the days go by so fast!), and generally bemoaning my situation, I decided to focus my energies on getting back into the working world. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

1: Getting some jobs in the pipeline, and keeping an open mind. I have a mortgage to pay, so the idea of a permanent vacation, though lovely, really isn’t realistic. I could wait forever for the “perfect” job to show up, but I think I’ll be waiting a long time, and I might miss an opportunity in the meantime. Applying to jobs makes me feel like I’m doing something productive, while also gauging my marketability. 18 days in and I have two interviews scheduled, and that feels good.

2: Assessing other possibilities. I’m 42 years old, and am not wed to sticking stubbornly to the same career for another 20 plus years. My husband successfully transitioned from IT to nursing and is now more engaged and active in his career than I have ever seen him. Changing careers is still a viable option, so I’m taking the time to think about what I might like to do, and what that path would look like from both a timing perspective and a financial perspective.

3: Considering going solo. After 7 months of working remotely, and several years of working remotely part-time, I love the flexibility of working where I want, when I want. I’m not completely convinced that I could tolerate the instability of freelancing again, but I am looking into some side gigs, such as creating a Udemy couse on copywriting, and some part-time remote work.

4: Working on personal writing projects that I haven’t had time for. After all, I may not have this much free time for a while, so I’m trying to take advantage of it and work on projects I’m really interested in, like my book about food history, and my murder mystery novel. I’m also catching up on my reading, and taking online courses in completely impractical topics like King Arthur and archaeology.

Losing my job was hard. Even though I was not the only one to get the ax — my whole department was cut , plus many people in other departments — it’s hard not to take it personally. In America, we’re defined by what we do, and it’s difficult to admit that I’m “between jobs.” The psychological side is nearly as hard as not having a paycheck. But I’m trying to stay open to possibilities, to not panic, and to believe what everyone keeps telling me: When one door closes, another opens.