“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” ~Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
By Amanda Gillooly
BLB Guest Blogger
These days, I like to consider myself an opener of doors. Five months ago I considered myself a journalist.
I’ve been busy these past few months applying for newspaper jobs and freelance gigs, and I won’t lie to you: There is a tremendous sense of loss when you get laid off. And it isn’t the paycheck or the embarrassment I’ve come to realize is routine for nearly all of us -- it’s the loss of self.
No capes have ever been required for me to think I could save the day. All I ever needed was a couple ball-point pens and a legal notebook to feel invincible. I proudly extended my hand and introduced myself as a reporter for whatever paper I was scribing for at the time. And I do mean proudly. I have identified myself as a reporter/writer/journalist since I irked the Moon Area School directors by circulating a survey about homophobia way back in high school.
When some people talk about their first loves, names like Dan or John or Matt are whimsically recalled. Mine wasn’t a man, but a publication. And I’ve fallen head over heels with almost every newsroom in which I’ve valiantly battled the deadline. When I signed the separation papers with the Observer-Reporter in June, it felt like the most important -- most identifying -- part of who I am was signed away, too.
Since then, I have spent more time than I’d like to admit mulling over the layoffs, and all it ever does is fill me with a bile and bitterness. I wonder if it ever occurs to the guys doing the pink slipping that they aren’t just eliminating a person’s job. They are eliminating that part of the poor bastard sitting across the desk.
As the weeks tick by with no job offers in sight (and few legitimate jobs to go around in a tremendously competitive market) I’m trying a different plan. Yes, the applications will still be sent. Yes, I will continue to freelance. But I’m going to start using this time to develop the parts of myself I neglected when I was too busy classifying myself as a writer. This month I started a novel, finished part of a professional project and lost 10 pounds. I’ve learned to make a stellar casserole and have become domesticated enough that I am mulling aprons and once again allowed to bake in my home unsupervised.
While the job market rebounds and the newspaper industry learns how to compete in the world of free online content, I’ll be working to make myself more of a Renaissance woman.
I want to work on being better. Not bitter.
And I hope you all do, too.
Amanda Gillooly previously worked for the Observer-Reporter and now freelances for The Innocence Institute of Point Park University and PittsburghMom.com. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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