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Having experienced layoffs while living in San Francisco during the dot-com bubble explosion (if you were living there and experienced it, “bust” doesn’t quite capture it), I am mutually drawn and repelled by any news about job growth or decline. Watching companies swiftly go under in a matter of weeks and others slowly fade away with multiple rounds of layoffs shaped me. I always tried to stay positive in the immediate days following a layoff. “This is an opportunity to find something that is a better fit,” I would tell myself, though I hadn’t yet come close to figuring out what a good “fit” for me would be. Having to worry about making ends meet complicated that desire. More than once, I gratefully accepted a job just to have a job.

For the first few months after starting a less than ideal job, I would successfully convince myself I was so grateful to be working again that the desire to find fulfillment would temporarily disappear. I would hope that the nagging feeling that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing would permanently go away. I wanted to be satisfied going to a job that was just a job. No such luck.

The jobs that didn’t fit would eventually start to deplete me, yet they provided the stability I needed to indulge in the luxury of trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. My compromises of necessity both set me back and moved me forward.

How has the recession impacted people’s experiences in figuring out fulfillment?