Like everyone else around me, I took it for granted redundancy is not something that happens to you. My first close encounter with this dreaded 'R' word was five years ago, when my husband, a civil servant, took voluntary redundancy. I must confess that it did not really matter much to me. I had always earned more than him, I loved what I did, and he hated his job. So absolutely failed to understand why his self-esteem hit rock bottom or why he appeared depressed at the best of times. It is that constant feeling of being 'finally found out' that gnaws at you, something I do now know. Combined with that sense of the enormous amounts of time that you wasted worrying about work-stuff. And that feeling of not belonging, and being made to feel like an outsider. I felt like the foreigner I truly am.
I came across Louise Chunn's (editor, Psychologies) outpourings on redundancy when she was "dumped" from Good Housekeeping. (It was around the same time I was reflecting on my sufferings) . I understood every syllable of that piece, and because I knew Louise it struck more of a chord with me. I even cut out the article to keep at my bedside. It was one of those many things that told me why I was at home and out of work when I was at the top of my game. All this time I was surrounded with love and affection from all the people and the industry I had written about, but it wasn't till I found another job that I got my mojo back.
The second time around, redundancy was more mind-numbing. I don't remember feeling anything. When I think back to that hot summer day when I was told I was being redundant (again) I remember a robotic-self. Very calm and collected. The only time I shed some tears was when I called up home to talk to Papa.Can never bear to disappoint him. He was of course more than encouraging. And hubby dear, as always, demonstrated his 100% faith in me. "You will find something better," he said!
But what surprised me most was how I felt this time. I was ready for a new challenge, ready to take everything I had learnt with me and start afresh. Most importantly for the first time I felt sort of free.
I remember walking around Soho in my ridiculous heels ricocheting across cobbled streets and finally falling into a pub to enjoy my afternoon G&T. And it felt so good. I sat there for hours. Not drowning my sorrows, but remembering the shy 26 year old shy Indian girl who celebrated her first job in this country with a double espresso outside Carluccio's in Soho. It was my first taste of the Western world, where no one even looked let alone judge a lone woman.
And if there is one lesson I have learnt in these 11 years of living in the Western world is the importance of freedom. The beauty of freedom of thought and action. Simple everyday pleasures that allow me to live the life I want.
And that is what redundancy meant the second time. I'm not sure if paying off the mortgage with my redundancy gave me that sense of abandonment or my middle age. It might be knowing that what I left behind was a job. Just a job.
I have learnt that I will always have the skills to look forward to and enjoy in the next challenge. And that the freedoms that this world has offered me has allowed me the ease of spontaneity.
I am on to pastures new soon, and I am willing to go full throttle again.