I resigned from my job after my move to New York and have only been looking for a job for a couple of months. And, I am lucky to have a supportive husband who has far less issue sharing “his” money than I do (quotation marks are mine not his). So, necessary PC-caveats aside, why do I feel so low?
First, I feel like less of a woman. As a somewhat normal immigrant girl growing up in Northern Virginia, my parents had one goal for me: do well in school. Which, when you grow up and meet real life means, “do well in school and do everything else that Western and Eastern values tell you to do.” I sorta got over that whole problem of having to do it all and started appreciating myself for being a multifaceted woman who could easily negotiate Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, the mosque, and the work-place...all in the same evening. Now that the latter is gone, my womanhood has been severely clipped. And, it makes me not want to do anything else. My career, a fundamental element to who I am and what my family and I spent so much energy working towards, makes me feel like a stool without one leg. Without it to balance me, I cannot seem to fulfill my other responsibilities like returning that darned curtain to Home Depot or buying bread. I never saw how much one element of my identity actually fueled the the other parts of me.
Second, being unemployed exposes the reality that all women are not my friends. In the race to prove we can do it all we are sometimes each others’ biggest naysayers. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, women are 71% more likely to be harassed by other women. That perhaps explains why a handful of peers have asked in feigned empathy, “So what do you do all day?” or “How do you keep yourself busy?” A very stern, upright Madeleine Albright sits atop a throne in my mind when I meet these types and she screams, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women!” I should really get the t-shirt.
Third, I never wear my work clothes anymore. My waking hours are spent in one of two pairs of precious black leggings instead of the crisp comfort of suits just returned from the cleaners. Make-up is a “frequent, but not always” phenomenon and my flats have usurped closet real estate previously owned by heels. On the up side, I have finally started browsing the “Casual Wear” section at department stores…
All in all, I know I am lucky. I’m also fortunate that other people have so much confidence in me. The pressure remains though to live up to the expectations (or lack thereof in some cases) we collectively build for each other. In my re-careering pursuit, I am struggling to learn that being jobless does not mean being nobody; it just means learning to recognize the same face in the mirror whether or not I am wearing make-up.
Noor recently resigned after five years of working at the federal government. She is new to married life and New York, and is re-careering towards education innovation.