Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up in the Air

Go see this movie...Especially if:

1. You have been laid off (Its like a badge of honor these days?)

2. You travel a lot for work (I mean A LOT, not the annual trade show once a year)

3. You are female (George Clooney = 1 hr 49 minutes on a 30 x 70 foot screen, yum)

The movie is about a consultant (dreamy George Clooney) who is hired to travel around and “downsize” people. Part of the movie focuses on a new strategy for firing people - over web conferences vs. in person.

I didn't quite rack up the miles Clooney’s character does in this move but I traveled at least once if not twice a week for the better part of 4 years for work. I became a whore for loyalty points at hotels and have reaped the benefits of lots of free vacations. I am such a sucker for the contrived loyalty they talk about in the film (What?! A chocolate bar on my pillow and free bottled water! Sure, I’ll drive an extra 25 miles to stay at a Westin!) I actually recognized and/or stayed in at least 2 hotels in that movie. I hope to never travel that much again unless it is by the private jet of my sugar-daddy.

Anyway, there is a scene where they are firing a middle aged guy and he is understandably distraught and upset and asks what he is going to tell his kids.

George Clooney looks at his resume and noticed that a long, long time ago the guy had majored in culinary arts but is some sort of mid-level office worker. Clooney is trying to explain to him that now that he was downsized he had an opportunity to go do what he always wanted to do with his life. He asks the guy a great question:

"What did the first pay you to give up on your dream?"

On the even of my move, forced upon me by the economy, where I have to rent my own home to strangers while I shack up in an apartment - this question really got to me. I cringed as I remembered that wide-eyed idealistic little 21 year old who sold out to the man for a similar salary in 1998.

That scene made me realize that I have had a gnawing sense of failure about this whole move. I mean, 11.5 years ago I graduated from college and came to DC to go do something B-I-G. It’s been so long I don’t even know what hat something is anymore but it’s certainly not close to anything I have been doing for the last few years.

I came here to change the world but 11 years late the world changed me. And I am not sure it was for the better.

I earn a living. I may even have passed on much of a social life for a few years to earn an even better living. I’ve been good at all my jobs – varied as they have been. I work for a great company with a friend who threw out a life boat to me when, as they say in the movie - my old company put me on boat, took me out, pushed me off and let me swim for my life (paraphrased).

So I sit here in my little condo I was so proud to have bought myself 3 years ago and go thru my stuff as I pack and toss out the old box of business cards that had that lofty VP title on them.

As I get ready to start over in a new place, I’m surrounded by moving boxes. I’m getting ready for the move with a little bit of hope, a lot of uncertainty, and a dash of fear.

I’m trying to get through this major change - and resist the urge to build those boxes into a little fort and hide away and never come out...

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