Bite the bullet
Magnate Warren Buffet is famous for saying: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” This pearl of wisdom, like most of Mister Buffet’s quotes, is based on his broad experience in doing business with all sorts, shapes and sizes. And as a consequence of its connotation, this insightful quote very much appeals to our imagination.
So it might come as no surprise that precisely because of this very connotation, the quote was also used way back in 2007 by The Economist as a punch line in foretelling the upcoming economic crisis. Now, still stuck in the midst of that same crisis, I am quoting Buffet as part of a reflection on my (recent) career span and that of many other over 40s like me.
Some years ago our mother lost her second leg due to her diabetes. I can still taste the slight panic in the back of my throat. She was already well in her seventies; no way that this could be anything else than a bad-bad-bad premonition. Or so I thought…
However, much to everyone’s surprise —the general practitioner, the physical therapist and home care included— our mother bounced right back. In a good two months time, she was able to independently transfer herself from her wheelchair to her bed. I stood in the doorway in total awe, completely stunned at the strength and resilience of this seemingly frail little woman. And I dubbed her ‘indestructible’ right then and there.
As my mother’s daughter, I could only hope that her sense of survival had been passed on to my genes. Sure enough, I was soon to be tested life wise and career wise, and I felt her inner strength and faith in me. I knew I was going to make it; for I was definitely a fruit of my mother’s loins.
Legacy of underemployment
No doubt having indestructible genes is a powerful thing. Yet deep down, there’s always this uneasy lurking feeling that one day you will meet your Delilah. Time passed and I’m in the present day with my present disappointment: I turned out to be only human after all. As you might remember from Confessions of an Unemployable, my choice to be underemployed as opposed to be unemployed, backfired.
Angry that my body refuses to do what I want it to do. Angry that I am literally scrapping the barrel to get by. Angry that we’re heading straight into a double dip recession and thus a prolongation of this meagre job market. Angry that the (average) employer remains frightfully clueless and stubbornly short-sighted in his refusal to hire the over 40s. And yes finally, I am angry —and scared stiff— that there’s only a string of McJobs awaiting me —for once you’re caught in the loop; you lose your seat at the table.
Mommy’s genes and Life’s cycle
Yet, despite my blind anger and stifling despair, I do realise —again— that life is but a cycle. I also realise —again— that once you’ve hit rock bottom; there’s nowhere else to go but up. And I do remind myself that Hard Times strengthens you and builds character.
And we all know that anger, if managed well, is the perfect tool to help you hit that reset button. Honestly, when the going is good, we are all too easily and willingly seduced into believing that we’re David slaying Goliath.
Paraphrasing Buffet, it’s only when the water goes down; you know what you are really made of. And I know that I am made of my mommy’s genes. I can bite this bullet. I can crunch this job recession. And so can you. Let’s face it; an economic and career crisis is just too painful a learning experience for us to waste.
Your turn. Tell me, how are you coping with this (double dip) recession? What do you do to keep your hopes and your spirits up? How do you broaden your career prospects?
(Source image used: Richard Elzey)
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