“You will have good luck and overcome many hardships.”
“Don’t be hasty. Prosperity will knock on your door soon.”
“Accept the next proposition you hear.”
If you’re a fan of Chinese take-out, chances are good you’ve come across these phrases, or something like them, after cracking open a fortune cookie.
These sayings are actual quotes taken from fortune cookies I’ve devoured during some lighter moments of my journey through unemployment.
Though I knew those predictions were designed solely to satisfy my appetite for entertainment, a part of me deep down secretly hoped those little, banner messages were harbingers of better days to come.
When I first proposed writing this 10-part series following my layoff back in February, my goal was to provide a first-hand look at how quickly – and how drastically – one’s good fortune can change.
Although I had an outline to work from, each installment practically wrote itself, enabling me to share the ups, the downs, the twists, the turns, the incredible highs and the devastating lows of being gainfully employed one day, unemployed the next and, at long last, finally returning to work.
Unlike the people at the center of most unemployment stories, I’m not a guy who watched his $200,000 salary evaporate, was forced to sell his second home, or had to forgo the family vacation to Cancun because he lost his job.
I’d grown tired of reading about people whose situations I simply couldn’t relate to. I’m just an average Joe, living in an average home, earning an average salary and living paycheck-to-paycheck to help his family make ends meet.
When I lost my job, my life was anything but average, and I had no idea whether my story would have a happy ending, or whether it would even resonate with anyone. Fortunately, some readers personally contacted me, giving me great feedback and encouraging me to press on. I’m forever thankful for those kind words of encouragement at a time I when needed them most.
My secret hope was that someone who was unemployed and reading about my plight would realize they weren’t alone. And if the series did have a happy ending – which, thankfully, it does – it would give hope to those readers who had none, as they continue struggling to rebuild their working lives.
It’s by no means easy, but if I can do it, so can you.
As for me, one journey has ended and another has just begun – a journey that’s sure to become an adventure, considering my new job is about as far outside my comfort zone as could be. But being unemployed taught me to embrace change, instead of fear it.
It also taught me to believe in myself, to be forever thankful for my family and friends, and that life is filled with opportunities – some which you create and some you discover in places you’d least expect to find them.
My advice? Keep your eyes and ears open and pay attention to where life takes you.
When things are great, you’ll always feel like you’re in the driver’s seat. However, life occasionally wrenches the wheel from your grasp and drives you straight into a ditch.
With determination and persistence, you’ll find your way back to your path, although your destination may be different (and for the better).
Whether you’re working or still looking for a job, stay focused, stay strong, have faith and don’t ever give up. Also, be mindful of whatever good fortune you’re blessed with and never take it for granted.
Even if it’s baked in a cookie.
Sean Baker of South Portland has a personal perspective on unemployment: his more than two-decade career in broadcasting came to a sudden halt in February when he was laid off by a Portland radio station. This is the final installment of his series for The Forecaster. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.