How the Worst News at Work Became My Best Opportunity

My career started like many of us Gen Xers. I joined the work force just as jobs were scarce—it was the early 1990s and we were in a recession. I was full of nerves—after putting myself through college I had school loans due and a car payment too. I needed to get a “real job” stat.

But luckily enough I found a job working in publishing (my dream!) on a technology trade publication. The tech industry was starting to boom. I was once a guest at an industry party and so was Bill Gates.

After brushing elbows with Mr. Gates (ok, he was on the other side of the room) I decided I wanted more. Being ambitious, I decided to hopscotch through some jobs. I wanted to fill some skill gaps and also make some leaps in my salary. I also got married and we wanted to buy a house.

After a few jumps, I had my second stroke of career luck. I found a company that felt like home. I loved my boss and my co-workers. Sure there was frustration and times I played the lotto, wishing for my ticket out. But for the most part there was opportunity, growth and a certain amount of stability and comfort. I rose through the ranks, became VP and lead a team. Eighteen years at one company is pretty rare these days. I secretly wondered if it would last.

Then things started to shift. We had survived the economy shrinks and rebounds but our industry had changed and we were struggling to keep up.

The layoffs started. One round at a time it seemed like entire departments were let go. People were whispering more and more. More closed door meetings. Who would be next?

My thoughts raced. Do I stay and see if I can make it through? Or do I go? I had a side hustle for a few years and I wanted to make that full time. Then I’d think, "should I just find a new job? Learn news skills. Make more money?" That sounded like the best option but I wondered, was I still marketable?

Then one evening I was on the train headed home checking my email when I saw the meeting invite from my boss’s boss. It was for first thing the next morning. The title of the email was something like "Marketing Assignments". At first my heart lifted, a new project! Finally, something to sink my teeth into. But then reality hit and my heart dropped to the floor. Could it be my number was up?

It was. After all that time “my position was eliminated”. I was given a week to clean my office. It took me a half-hour to pack up and say goodbye. Things had changed so much.

Yes, it took time to adjust. The first few weeks I was out of sorts but the truth is I never looked back.

You see, like you, I’m a Gen X Lady. We’re used to having to make it work. Sometimes we’re overlooked and we have to raise our hands even higher. But we also know so much and we’ve worked hard and are experts at what we do. We’re one of the first generations to hold the door open for other women instead of fearfully running through it and locking it behind us. I find that we are optimistic, realistic and when we get knocked down, well we get back up.

And that’s what I did. I became a coach and expanded my side hustle. And then in my third strike of career luck I was introduced to Jackie and we started The Resting Mind.

So when things start to get rocky, I ask you to dig deep and see how you can make it work. I know you can because I’d never underestimate the power of a Gen X Lady.

Marissa Bishop