No, I’ve never been stuck inside my home during a global pandemic. This is a first for most of us. But I have been anxious, scared, and underemployed, which is my new normal since being laid off from my full-time job in tech just before the Coronavirus struck the States.
In 2009, during the recession, I was laid off from the company I founded. At a time when thousands of fellow writers were axed and faced with a doomed publishing industry, I was forced to reinvent myself. As someone who savors security, I was scared shitless. And as a former entrepreneur, I was accustomed to being the provider of opportunities — not the other way around. Looking back, though, I’m grateful that the ground crumbled beneath me.
After at least a year of struggling in New York, I ended up on top — over-employed, in the best physical shape of my life, and ready to take on new curveballs. Looking back, I remember feeling aching fear but also mustering up courage to move to the country’s biggest city, negotiating my way into an “affordable” apartment in Brooklyn, and becoming extremely resourceful with my scraps of freelance income. There were plenty of forces working against me: no partner, no dependable income, no internet or TV. But the forces working in my favor were the most important of all: myself, my health, and grit and determination.
I used the bottomed-out economy as an opportunity to start over from scratch. I designed a new minimalist routine: go to the library for free internet and job hunting, exercise, explore the city. With no job offers and tarnished pride, I veered off track for a bit, thinking I should try to become an NYC public schools teacher (long story). But then I got back to my writerly job hunt and landed two jobs, moved into a new apartment, built a savings account … and met my husband.
So, here I am again. This time around, a life-threatening virus is taking the world by storm, the stakes are higher, and I have two kids to support and a mortgage to pay. I won’t lie, with soaring unemployment, I’m scared and anxious. Who isn’t? But now at 43, I’m also wiser and more confident. I’m in my prime, and I ain’t letting no one squash my pride.
With that 2009 layoff experience under my belt, I’m quick to remember that bad things often lead to better things. When I lost my job in early March 2020, I cried for 10 minutes and then kicked myself into high gear, applying for jobs while disinfecting everything in sight and explained to our 5-year-olds that “the world is sick right now.”
Speeding up to today (March 31, 2020), I’m lucky to say that I’ve accepted a new job offer and am looking forward to doubling down on building Jumble & Flow.
We will survive, goddangit, and we will thrive no matter what.
Looking for a new job? Read How to get a new job during the Coronavirus pandemic: 8 tactics that helped me land a job in less than a month, featuring expert insights from a corporate recruiter with 20 years of experience.
This story was originally published in the Jumble & Flow newsletter. Sign up here.
Amy Cuevas Schroeder is the founder and CEO of Jumble & Flow, the new lifestyle brand that empowers women to thrive in midlife. By day, she works as the director of educational content for Unusual Ventures. She started her first business, Venus Zine, in her dorm room at Michigan State University, and later sold the company. She now lives in the Chicago area, and is raising twin girls with her husband, Martin, a social worker. Between Venus and Jumble & Flow, she’s worked as a content leader for Etsy, Minted, and Abstract, and has written for NYLON, Pitchfork, The Startup, West Elm, and more.
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