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Unappreciated At Work? Might be Time to Move On

by Jennifer Valentine

For more than a decade, I had two demanding roles: one as the primary caregiver for my aging mother, the other managing a fast-paced data processing company.

My mother was a force of nature for 86 years. It was a challenge for both of us to handle the transition from independence to the ever-increasing need for assistance. I loved my mother, and it was an honor to care for her. She always let me know that she appreciated me.

I also loved my job. I worked for the company from its beginning and felt like it was my baby. I thrived on the challenges of managing and growing a business, working weekends and evenings, whatever it took to get the job done. I had every reason to think my employer appreciated my efforts as well.

Then, within the period of about a year, my mother died, my job ended, and I lost two of my main roles. I was no longer the caregiver to my mother. I was no longer the manager of the company.

As my mother’s health declined, I knew the inevitable would happen. It did not necessarily make her passing any less painful, but at least it made sense to me. I knew I did not have the ability to change the course of nature.

I felt betrayed. I felt irrelevant. I felt like a fool. I felt alone.

I looked for jobs, but often talked myself out of applying. Who would want me? I was stuck thinking about my former job and going nowhere.

Then I decided to attend a Women For Hire Career Expo, where I heard CEO Tory Johnson speak. In talking about letting go and moving on after losing a job, Tory asked us, “Why would you want to stay where you are not appreciated?” I felt as if she was speaking directly to me.

Rather than telling myself, “I’m not wanted,” I changed the message to “I’m not appreciated.” And, I was right, I wasn’t appreciated. I decided at that moment, the first change I had to make was with me. It was time to move on. The old job was not coming back. My new role is to value and appreciate myself, because no one can ever take that away from me.

I still miss my mother and I’m sure I always will, but I no longer miss my old job. While I am actively seeking my next employment opportunity, I am also exploring my own business idea and I’m taking a course to learn about the possibilities in that industry. I have moved on.