The Day I Discovered I Was Irrelevant
Written by Laura Prather on March 11, 2018
Life is an unending journey of discovery. Not only of the world around us but of ourselves. We start our lives believing we are invincible and have a better handle on the world and culture around us than our parents and grandparents do or did. Every single generation believes this. It’s part of our nature of discovery. In one way it is healthy because it pushes the envelope and leads to new ideas and fosters creativity. On the other hand, while the passion and intrigue of youth are much needed, so is the grounding, experience, and wisdom of our later years. Honestly, I always dreaded growing older because I thought I would lose the vitality and love of life and learning. But what I have found is that it has only increased. But even better, that love and vitality of life are now partnered with experience and wisdom; and as I am finishing out my final two years in my 40s, I feel as though I am just now entering the best years of my life.
Ironically, not everyone shares that perspective.
In 2017 I decided to go back into the workforce after a 20-year break in the corporate world. I had been existing as an entrepreneur and home-schooling mother for the last two decades. My son is now old enough to not need me as much. (That was my goal, to raise an independent, healthy adult and now I get to back off and watch him blossom.) I realized I was in a transition time. A time of letting go of motherhood and rediscovering myself. Wondering how to use the gifts and talents I had accumulated over the years and what to do with them.
In other words, finding where I am relevant.
Always an entrepreneur, I was dabbling in a few ideas, including Microbusiness Mentor, but I also thought it would be wonderful to have a steady job and income. One that I could leave behind my work at the office door, but would also give me some confidence and more experience to prepare for bigger dreams.
I applied for many jobs. I searched and searched and found several that I believed were right up my alley, so to speak. Even though I had not had a proper “job”, I had never stopped working as I created my own entrepreneurial adventures.
One after another I was refused even an interview. Gone are the days where you can introduce yourself face-to-face.
One organization, in particular, was especially interesting to me. I loved everything about them (and still do). I applied for at least a half-dozen jobs in a short period of time. Always getting their denial via a form email. I did have one interview and I thought it went so well, I was convinced I had the job. Fortunately for someone else, they were selected and not me. Not one to give up, I kept applying at the same company and finally one day I received an email that changed everything for me.
UNUSEABLE AND IRRELEVANT
I was familiar with the form email from this company, so my heart dropped when I saw the latest email from them. I knew I was being rejected, again, for a position – even though this time I opted for a minimum wage position just to get in the door. However, when I opened the email, something in the template had been altered. They had taken the time to add a sentence to the rejection notice. It said, “you neither have skills or experience”.
Wow. What a blow. All I could hear in my mind was that I was unusable and irrelevant.
Immediately, I thought of a conversation I had with a friend not more than a few days before. She is in her mid-50s and crazy talented with business and organization skills. But, like me, chose to work PT jobs and other ventures while raising her 4 children. She has been looking for work and made this comment: “I’ve discovered that I am unemployable”.
MORE THAN A RESUME
After I received my email stating I had no skills or expertise for a minimum wage job, I decided to stop trying to convince others that I was more than capable of being a strong asset in their organization. Instead, I knew I had the experience and tenacity to create the perfect “job” for myself. Yes, it takes more effort and is uncertain, inconsistent, and challenging but I am just now entering the PRIME of my life and I am not going to waste the grey hairs that I have earned.
I am far more than a one-page resume can reveal, having much to offer. You’ll find me working and creating until the day I draw my last breath. I and many others have been around the block and just because someone didn’t give me a paycheck for the skills I learned and utilized over the years, doesn’t mean I don’t have something to contribute.
I’ll be bold enough to say that common sense skills are far more useful than textbook knowledge or simply clocking in and out and doing what someone else tells you to do. It’s like listening to Siri tell you where to drive and blindly following her (and usually getting lost) versus looking at a map and using your brain to determine how to get to your destination. (That’s an entire post by itself).
FINDING A PLACE
I’m not knocking those with corporate jobs or the younger generation at all. However, I’m saying that I’m tired of corporate people looking at those who chose to work from home or volunteering their skills – whatever their reasons – as irrelevant or unskilled.
Everywhere I go, people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond are asking where they fit. They feel like they have so much more to offer. Some want to leave the corporate world they’ve been in for 20-30 years and rediscover their passions and creativity. Some are moms with an empty nest who want to know how do they contribute to society?
My heart breaks because in these men and women I see the wisdom and experiences and skills desperately needed in our society. Creativity and passion without wisdom lead to foolishness. We need every generation to be active in the workforce.
While I’m still sad I didn’t get to join the team at this particular organization, I am thankful they said what they did. It lit a fire under me and I determined to show myself that I can do it. I CAN create a business that meets the needs of my family AND changes the lives of others – impacting people, families, communities, and nations.
Plus, I realized that I don’t need a paycheck to tell me what I am worth.
[Related article: Go Ahead…Tell Me I Can’t]