This phrase keeps coming up recently. "The End" warns the back of a designer t-shirt (Isabel de Pedro's fall 2010 collection) and jumps out of this month's cover of Scientific American. Is doomsday really approaching?
What is the worst that can happen and is it really the end? Does the end mean meeting the grim reaper or the end of something less fatal, such as the end of summer, a short-term or stressful job, borrowing the family car, or a warm weather romance?
Here are five lessons I learned from endings:
Whatever ended deserves to be acknowledged.
My colleague Eugene Muscat, professor of business at the University of San Francisco for 40 years, unexpectedly died of a sudden heart attack a few weeks ago. The way I mourned his passing was to attend his mass and write a note to his wife on how he impacted my writing and teaching and the education of his students. Acknowledge your ending. For example, prepare a feast, or get together with friends, or take a walk in nature.
Endings are an opportunity to share values with others.
My colleague, Eugene, was a very giving professor. His son mentioned that his father had been on his cell phone for hours in the middle of his recent European vacation, helping a student from China secure his visa to study in the U.S. His giving nature inspired me to give free access to my Careerwell tele-interviews (except for the cost of their distance provider) to USF alumni for the rest of the year. If you are sad or mad about your ending, look outside yourself and see how you can help others.
Endings are an opportunity to tell stories.
Ending stories need to be told. If you can't tell your ending story right away (i.e., when my father died, I immediately went back to work as owner/full time operator of a fashion boutique in the Village at Corte Madera, where the Apple Computer store now stands), then tell it later, when you can catch your breath. If you need help telling your story, ask a friend to listen, write about it, take a writing course, join a support group, create a piece of art, talk to your hairdresser or doctor, seek help from a spiritual advisor or counselor, contact a local agency. Whenever my computer breaks down and I need help at the Apple Genius Bar, I tell the geniuses the story of when I owned the shop and the Genius Bar was a cappuccino bar for our customers, and how, when I closed the store, two guys carried the bar through the center courtyard of the Village like a funeral procession. There are many ways to tell a story. Ask for help if you're stuck. If you can't find anyone to listen to your story, then call 2-1-1 in Marin.
Endings are an opportunity to learn.
Summer endings are a good time to take stock of where you are, where you have been, and where you are going. Look at three or four skills that you are good at and like to use, as well as at a couple skills you like to use but aren't good at. Register for a course or training that you need for a career you are thinking of pursuing. Volunteer, apprentice, intern, join an organization, or do something that relates to a subject that interests you.
Endings may or may not be beginnings.
It's up to you.
Dr. Sally Gelardin (International & Multicultural Education) is a National Certified Counselor, Distance Credentialed Counselor, Job Loss Recovery Coach, LeaveLight End-of-Life Planning Facilitator, Adjunct Faculty and Women's Studies Portfolio Advisor at the University of San Francisco, and Career Development Facilitator Instructor. She interviews industry experts through Careerwell.org. Contact her at Sally@AskDrSal.com or visit her website.