Some years ago in an emotional support group for job seekers, I asked participants to choose one word to describe how they were feeling. Of all the offerings, one word jumped out at me and has been with me ever since… adrift…feeling adrift…
Picture yourself in that boat…Having come a certain distance, but not at your destination. Being adrift felt then and does now, like it is a waiting place. The waters are not choppy or turbulent and the boat is not being rocked. Is it a patient, hopeful place of change, where we know something is on the horizon or around the bend, but just isn’t visible yet? Maybe instead, it is a restless and yearning place that is impatient and anxious.
Could being adrift be not only a waiting place, but a resting place when we need time and space to process where we’ve been, before we can set course for new directions? Take for example, the person who described her unexpected unemployment status as being adrift during my emotional support group.
Adrift During Job Search
She expressed having difficulties motivating herself to find work. In the few efforts that she had made, she encountered both ageism and sexism. She was 50 years old, with 25 years of experience in her field and it didn’t seem to count at all. Only her age and grey hair did.
During the course of our conversations in group, she discovered that her resistance to job search was her need to first process being laid off. It went deeper from there into realizing how unhappy she had actually been in this last job. Trying to find a similar situation didn’t feel very motivating.
Her time adrift in transition was a time to sit back, even if just briefly, to be comforted by the gentle motion of the boat in the water and to make space for new perspectives, reenergizing and redirecting where she might look for that better fit. And yes, she did find a job, one that suited her. and supported her skills and values.
Job search is not the only transition where we can feel adrift. Let me introduce you to Monica. She is recently divorced and has traveled quite a ways through her change in life circumstances.
Adrift In Divorce
Monica was counting on finding her new life after all the uncertainty and emotional trauma of closing the door on her long marriage. However, she now finds herself feeling stuck instead. There is no going back, but at the same time, there is no movement forward either.
Monica feels empty, lonely and yearning for a new connection that will give her the certainty of being part of a couple again. She misses what was dependable and secure in her marriage. Most of all, she desperately wants to be loved.
While she has tried to busy herself with doing and seeking a new Mr. Right, there is no match on her horizon. She sits in her boat feeling impatient and restless.
Monica came to a new perspective through processing the story of her marriage and divorce with the help of a counselor. She discovered that before she would be ready to love someone else, she first needed to learn to love herself.
Her time adrift allowed her to heal and truly see what had not worked in her marriage. From that point, Monica began to find herself, to befriend herself and to love herself. This self- discovery has given her new direction in seeking the person she would want to be with. For now, she is grateful and content to be quite secure and happy in living with herself.
What About You?
Can you relate to having a time in your life when you felt adrift? Being in that waiting time of what was and what might be, happens in all of our life transitions. The circumstances might differ, but the need to pause and reflect is the same.
During the middle of this summertime, consider giving yourself some time to be adrift in your boat, gently rocking in placid waters. This pause in time and space might give you just the rest and refreshment you need for new perspectives and movement.
What do you think?