everybody put your best suit or dress on.

A year ago, when I was 29 and just shy of my 30th birthday, I didn’t expect that I’d start the new year off almost virtually rock bottom.  After roughly two weeks off from work over the holidays, I went back to work at a job that had heightened my anxiety over the course of the year, but I went back with a positive outlook to turn things around and convince myself that it would be okay.  That lasted until I was fired just three days after coming back from holidays, and thus catapulted Jocelyn’s Sinking Ship.

I spent a month unemployed, my first time ever as an adult, which was also my first time being fired from a job in the field I was working in; I was mortified of the possibility of still being unemployed by the time my 30th birthday rolled around in late February, but I accepted the first job I was offered and started exactly two weeks before the big Three-Oh. I honestly don’t know what I was more relieved about, though: the fact that I’d gotten a job,  or that I’d gotten it before I turned 30.

I felt really good about it the first month or so of my working there, until the person I’d been hired to work for left and my gut feeling kept telling me that this job wasn’t going to work out, nevermind last until the end of my probation period.  Every day was a struggle to get out of bed and force myself to go to a job where I’d spend 8 hours counting down until 4:30; then I’d spend the rest of the day dreading when my alarm would go off the next morning. Lather, rinse, repeat for another 6 weeks.  But, surely I wouldn’t be fired from two jobs in a row, especially not in the span of four months — that doesn’t actually happen, does it?

… except that it did,  just shy of my probationary period.  I’d already been looking at getting out and had applied for other jobs and had other interviews already, but they got me before I could get them.  The day before I was let go, the woman who ultimately hired and fired me said “see you tomorrow” to everyone she walked past; when she got to me, she made firm eye contact with me and kept walking.  Her mind had been made up, but she’d wait until I got to work the next morning to tell me.

I can’t say that I wasn’t relieved, because I was.  After I’d been let go from my position, it felt like some sort of weight had been lifted from my chest because I knew I wouldn’t have to go back there anymore;  I just had to keep looking for a job, which I’d already been doing.

Searching for jobs in the field I worked in continued for a couple of weeks. That was put on pause when my eldest cat, Shadow, fell extremely ill. Letting her go was kinder than putting her through an intravenous treatment plan that wasn’t guaranteed to help her.  Thirteen days after getting fired from my second job in 4 and a half months, I had to say goodbye to my best friend that I’d had for nine and a half years.  I was done with 2014, and it was only the middle of May.

I think it takes hitting rock bottom to figure out where you want to go from there, which is exactly what I did.  On a whim, I applied to go back to school with hopes of entering the journalism program — something I’ve talked about extensively, and something I had wanted to do 10 years ago when I went to University the first time (I won’t rehash this story). I’d applied to the program after the deadline, but a good friend of mine helped me out, I got everything I needed to get together, wrote my statement of intent, wrote the exam, and found out in the middle of June that my application for the September 2014 intake had been accepted.

Finally. Finally. Fucking finally something was looking up for me.

I continued looking for temporary work here and there but nothing came up and I ultimately spent the summer — from May to the beginning of September — unemployed.   Having something to look forward to felt good for the first time in months, so I did my best to enjoy the time I had off because I knew it was only temporary.

Over the course of the summer, I’d oh-so-clichéd done a lot of figuring things out: the kind of person I wanted to be, what kind of people I wanted in my life, letting go of things that weren’t my fault and it felt incredibly liberating, until one Friday night at the beginning of August when I was physically assaulted in my own home by a man I had met up with that evening.  I felt shame about what happened because even though I never initiated anything or wanted anything with him, I still felt like I had done something that warranted the assault.  After I spoke out about it, I was told by many that I should have reported it and that if I didn’t, he would continue on and do the same to the next girl and his pattern would continue.  There’s so many reasons women don’t report assault cases; I shouldn’t have to tell you why. I felt shame for not reporting him because by not reporting what happened, I felt that what could potentially happen to others would be my fault, and that is a heavy weight to carry around.

It’s been almost 5 months since that happened, and while I know that it truly isn’t my fault, I still feel guilt. I still wonder about the what if’s. I know that it could have been a lot worse.  I know that it wasn’t right.  I know that it’s not a thing that should continually happen. I guess I just really hope it isn’t.

My first semester of journalism school made me fully realise that doing this was exactly what I wanted to do all along — I just took a detour getting there, but I’m there now.  It’s no secret that it hasn’t been easy:  it really, really hasn’t, but it’s been worth the battle because I care about what I’m doing and it’s an incredible feeling finally doing something you know you should have been doing all along.

I sit here on the eve of 2015, reflecting on all the things that tried knocking me down in 2014, but truth be told I’m in a better place at the end of the year than I was at the start.  It’s stupid and cliché, but sometimes those exist for a reason, but every situation I had to fight through lead me to a better opportunity. If I hadn’t been fired from two jobs, maybe I wouldn’t have made the decision to go back to school; maybe I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to truly fight for what I want because, if anything 2014 taught me, it taught me that I am worth a lot more than I’ve habitually settled for in any aspect of my life.  I feel like I’m finally narrowing it down by chasing dreams and being more selective about the kind of people I want in my life; the ride’s still a bit bumpy, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

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Author: Jocelyn Aspa

early 30-something. journalist. sports fan. puns. cats. mental health advocate. not taking myself seriously (most of the time)

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