Milestone: Re-entering Workforce

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My iWatch shows I have about 4K steps to my self imposed goal of 10K steps a day. I walk around the house as lightning glows outside. A peal of thunder is enough to shake me from my reverie. I look outside and the weeds that have taken over my front yard irk me. A sense of being overwhelmed has me reaching for the landscaper contact I have worked with before. I shoot off an email and continue to amble around the house ratcheting up the step count.

I start work full time on Monday after a five-year hiatus. I am not quite sure what I should be feeling. I am equal parts excited, anxious and scared. The journey to reentering the workforce has been rocky. I have been applying on and off over the past couple of years. Each attempt has been half-hearted, a way to assuage the guilt that came with the territory of being a non-earning member of the household.

A few months ago, my older twins and I talked about what it means to grow up. As I waxed eloquent about why education and financial independence is so important for a woman in today’s world, I felt like an imposter. I hurried to dwell on my working years. I told them about how I helped save money, buy a home and why it gave me a feeling of self-worth.

They listened and moved on, as ten-year-olds do. My words, however, haunted me. I often tell other mothers in my various circles that children mimic what we do, not what we say. I have seen it way too often at home. The quest for a paying job suddenly became important. I made lists of things I wanted in a career and things I absolutely could not deal with. It helped narrow what I was looking for, yet the mechanics of running a home, raising three children one of whom still stayed home all day kept me from actively searching.

Laddu managed to get into an enrichment program at her new school which meant she would be away all day from August. It gave me the impetus I needed. I logged into LinkedIn and tinkered with my profile. I casually mentioned to friends that I was looking for jobs. I joined conversations on Twitter about reentering the workforce. One such conversation landed a phone interview with the HR of a local company. It did not go very far but it gave me the clarity that was lacking. The fact that I had an interview made me feel hopeful. It made me excited at the prospect of being back in a professional setting. It also made me realize the ambiguity of the previous years was gone. I really wanted this.

In early May, a good friend pinged me on Whatsapp to let me know of an opening at my old workplace. It opened up today, so hurry she urged. I did. Weeks after I sent my resume in, nothing happened and I figured the five-year break really did matter. The trouble is, when you feel like an imposter, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every action, every day becomes a way to beat yourself up, to remind you of all that you are not.

The interviews eventually happened. I prepared unlike early in my career where I would swagger in knowing I had it. Notes littered my home office with helpful hints on how to answer questions about the product, the domain, and non-technical questions. Perhaps because I was prepared, nothing in the interviews touched upon anything I had reviewed. I felt confident. I knew this was something I really wanted to do.

The offer came the day Saathi and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. The next few days, I filled out forms, followed instructions for a drug test and refreshed the background check status multiple times a day. Eventually, it seemed like everything was in place and this going back to work thing was really happening. I wanted to write about the anxiety, the joy, the fear but held back. The fear of jinxing everything is real.

Today, however, as I walked I realized I have come far. The truth today is that I have an offer and I expect to start work in a few days. It is a momentous thing for me. I should be celebrating this moment instead of waiting perennially for an imaginary shoe to drop. So, I gathered my children around. I told them how much I would be making. I told them how happy I am. I talked about how things would change around the home. We high-fived. We hugged. We celebrated.

Over this weekend, I will pick out an outfit, I will prepare a bag to take to work. I will mull over schedules. I will revel in the fact that I will modeling behavior I want my children to emulate.

Send me positive energy people.

14 comments

  1. All the best Laxmi, u r a loving,living example for your kids to emulate. Everything will work out well, with total cooperation at home.good luck to u always.

  2. Good luck and best wishes Lakshmi! It is not easy to enter back in the workforce after such a long break, kudos to you for making it!

  3. My first comment here. Best wishes and sending positive energy your way. Your writing is enjoyable. Thank you for taking the time to blog.

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