What's the evidence?
The rain poured incessantly as I splashed my way down the street toward Sofra Bakery and Café. The little space was overflowing with people, adding to the overwhelm I felt. My friend Pam walked in and gave me a warm hug. We found a table and sat down. She gave me a compassionate look, sighed and said, “So, Kristina. Tell me what happened.”
I recalled the meeting with my managers the month before.
“You have three months to prove to us that you’re worthy of your job title,” they had said to me. Regardless of whether this statement was a true reflection of my skill level or not, I knew in my gut that — no matter how hard I worked — I would need to find a new job by the end of the year.
Regardless of whether this statement was a true reflection of my skill level or not, I knew in my gut that — no matter how hard I worked — I would need to find a new job by the end of the year.
My parents handled the news with empathy and expressed confidence in me. I was terrified, however, to tell anyone else.
The “what-ifs” began to claim space in my head:
“What if people start to think of my work differently?”
“What if people won’t think I’m cool anymore if I’m not working in food media?”
“What if I can’t find another job?”
The shame escalated to where I struggled to get out of bed every morning. I’d go outside to the harbor on my lunch breaks and cry — the rise and sudden crash of the ocean waves mimicking the way my grief would well up and then release through my tears.
Two weeks later, a friendly but pointed voice piped into my thoughts: “What’s the evidence that you can’t find a new job that you’ll love just as much, if not more?” I recognized the voice as that of my former counselor from UD, Rebecca Cook. She guided me throughout my college career, often reminding me of my own resilience and strength with a simple question: “What’s the evidence?”
She guided me throughout my college career, often reminding me of my own resilience and strength with a simple question: “What’s the evidence?”
The truth was that I had no evidence that I wasn’t capable of finding a job. A little door opened, a way for me to walk toward what was coming.
I confided in friends, mentors and trusted colleagues. Many expressed a willingness to help me network. My former UD professors told me stories of how they, and their friends, experienced similar situations. A mentor, a highly respected editor, frankly stated, “It’s time, Kristina. The universe is telling you to move on. You can, and you will.”
“It’s time, Kristina. The universe is telling you to move on. You can, and you will.”
I wrote Pam Willis, owner of Pammy’s restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whom I had met at a panel discussion on women who own restaurants in the Boston area. At the discussion, I learned she had been following me on Instagram. We formed a warm camaraderie, and I made it a point to catch up with her whenever I’d stop in for dinner. I wanted to stay involved in the food industry and thought she could have some advice for me.
“Wow,” Pam sighed, shook her head and took a bite of her falafel. “Well, I think you can still be a part of the food industry in other ways besides your full-time job. Heck, I was an actress and jewelry maker before I became a restaurant owner.”
Our conversation helped me voice my strengths and weaknesses, and I realized I had far more career options than I once thought. Toward the end of our time together, she said, “You should meet my friend Lydia. She’s knows many food writers in the area. I think she’d be a good connection.”
I contacted Lydia; we planned to meet for coffee. That November day at work, my managers confirmed that my time at the company was definitely ending. I felt gutted. But I pulled it together as I walked into the Harvard Square Starbucks that evening.
Lydia told me about her connections to the food industry. She also mentioned she worked for Harvard Magazine. “We are looking,” she said, “for a digital content strategist — someone to manage our social media, email newsletters and web content. Would that be of interest to you?”
As her words sunk in, I said, “Yes. Actually, that’s the exact combination of my skills and experience. How can I apply?”
I was called into Harvard Magazine’s office to formally interview with the staff. On the day before my last day at work, I received the job offer from Harvard.
I moved on — with joy.