Dear unemployment,

Written by Callie Dickey

As I’m now on what feels like an upward trajectory- I’m hoping this means our remaining time together is short- I felt I should reach out to try to close this chapter on a good note.

After all, let’s not forget that this whole uprooting-my-life-to-be-closer-to-family thing was my idea. And like all major milestones in my life (including crazy new hair styles and planning my wedding), my commitment and enthusiasm got the better of me and the planning phase was pretty non-existent. Ya gurl has many virtues, but patience isn’t one of them. Why waste time planning when you can be doing? Oh, because of little gems like “financial stability” and “student debt.” Whoops.

After said uprooting, I struggled to balance all the roles I now found myself trying to fill with my free time: wife, housekeeper, job hunter, freelancer, daughter, sister, aunt, friend. Somehow the days seemed shorter, and I felt like I was just trying to stay afloat.

In my job search, I was working harder, not smarter. I found myself putting up road blocks that I mistook for stepping stones in the right direction. I’d put all my energy into the ONE THING that would get me over the hurdle, agonizing over every detail, terrified to let pieces of myself out into the world lest they be judged less than perfect. I was SURE these efforts would get me comfortably to the next phase of the process, only to find another road block and start this process all over again.

It’s true what they say about working in a vacuum. I felt utterly lost, alone with no direction. Oh, how I hated you then, and myself for not doing enough, being enough to get through this by myself. But here in these moments, tears streaming down my face, I saw glimpses of what could be. I also realized I couldn’t do this on my own.

My husband Thomas coaches me through the worst of my self-doubt and guilt to make plans, to talk about goals, to break down this giant, terrifying, nebulous task into manageable pieces. My mom Liz — who is currently building her own business — and I share our progress honestly, celebrating our successes and commiserating over growing pains, sharing words of wisdom when we need it most.

Each day I’m working to build myself back up with the help of my support team. I feel more sure of myself with every concrete step I take. Every embrace or kind word from a loved one. Each kindness I offer myself.

These days, I feel like I’m finding a better balance. I focus less on trying to be everything to everyone, and instead try to focus on the areas of my life that really need my attention. I’m finding peace in embracing my reality, in leaning into my feelings instead of away from them. However unpleasant or difficult, they’re here to tell me something and I’m trying to listen.

My life is full of family, which has grounded me in a way I never expected after being apart from them for so long. I’ve been reaching out to friends and colleagues, building relationships and finding the community I’m so desperate for in my new world. And I paid attention when something told me to take notice of the good things that were coming into my life as a result.

I don’t exactly know what’s next for me, but I can confidently say that I am moving forward. I’ll try not to forget the lessons I’ve learned along the way, but you understand if this is the last time I reach out right?

Best Wishes,

A Woman Finding Her Way

Photo by Olivia Leitch  Illustration by Tara Johnston

Photo by Olivia Leitch
Illustration by Tara Johnston

Callie Dickey is an art director and graphic designer born on the East Coast, raised on killer work ethic and kindness, and was seasoned in Texas. She currently lives in Alexandria, VA, where she enjoys small-town life while being a stone’s throw from DC. When she’s not spoiling nieces and nephews, you can find her at Happy Hour or in the lobby of The Line Hotel.

Chelsea Francis