Who Am I If I Don’t Have a Job?

colleagues from my old job at what to expect, senior editor

colleagues from my old job at what to expect, senior editor

Two weeks ago I quit a full-time job I (most of the time) loved for…no other job in sight. With our move to Paris, I plan to freelance. Before I left my job, I felt excited about the potential of working for myself. But now, with only prospects but no contract in the queue, I’m riding the roller coaster of thrill and panic, wondering: Who am I if I don’t have a job?

Since January I had been waiting impatiently until the right moment to quit, given my husband’s current job and his new offer. But the deadline kept getting pushed back— from February 1st to 15th to, finally, March 1st. The wait felt impenetrable; I couldn’t wait to leave and thought I’d be nothing but excited to take the leap, have some time to myself and figure out what I “really wanted to do.” I know I am extremely fortunate to be in the position where we can take that time out to move and figure things out.

When I told my boss about our move, she was wonderful, allowing me stop working exactly two weeks after I gave notice so I had the rest of the month to pack and prepare for our move to Paris. She also told me that as long as they have a freelance budget I can continue to edit and write for them for a dozen or so hours a week—a great base for my freelancing. As I told colleagues and friends about our move, many offered unsolicited to put me in touch with their friends and colleagues who’d lived in Paris or might be able to help on the freelance front. I’ve met with a good handful over the past two weeks for coffee and they’ve been extremely helpful, offering yet more contacts and the promise of work with the right pitch.

Still. That last day, as I packed boxes I felt sad about leaving things undone at work—especially as we have just, in the past few months, had big successes in SEO and app traffic—and it’s weird having to be OK with that. I helped built the base for the group’s success, but now I couldn’t really enjoy the rewards. It felt as if I was standing on the edge of a freezing lake on a hot summer day, preparing to plunge in.

Now that I have, and we’re in limbo packing and preparing for our move, sometimes I wake up in dread that I made the wrong move—one that I can’t take back, since it’s so hard to get the job that I had in our industry (supply=low, demand=high). An more than once I’ve woken up wondering what my new identity is. I can’t tell people I’m the senior editor of What To Expect, as I’ve enjoyed doing for the last four years. So I tell them…what? I’m an American married to a Frenchman? I’m an expat? I’m looking for work?

I don’t have the answers to who I am, at least yet. So I just have to learn to be OK with the stage where I’m not yet sure who I’m about to become.

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