“Just when you think you’re in, you’re out!” I first heard these words some 30 years ago at a seminar. I can’t recall the name of the professor, nor the subject matter; however, the aforementioned quote is lodged deep within the gray matter of my brain. It bamboozles me when these words make a grand entrance into my consciousness.
Because we are human, most of us have, at times, felt indispensable. We think or say statements like these: He would never do that to me. She is my friend and will tolerate my bad moods. My job is secure — no one does what I do. My spouse or significant would never be unfaithful to me. I can have it both ways and…(fill in the blank). Until one day, Bam! The proverbial boom drops. We are faced with the stunning reality that in the big scheme of things, most times we’re replaceable.
Technology is moving faster than the speed of light. Robots are already replacing human workers at an alarming rate and are forcing down wages. I read that every robot that is added to workforce per thousand human workers can cause wages to drop by as much as 0.25 to 0.5 percent. Geez! A robot may be training to do our jobs. Perhaps, the much-loved robot R2-D2 depicted in Star Wars movie in 1977 wasn’t all that far-fetched.
Robots aside, perhaps we’ve felt smug in our place of employment. Then, one day we are informed that we are being replaced by a younger version of ourselves at half the pay or worse yet, the job that we nursed from infancy to maturity is now considered obsolete.
No one is immune. Take a gander of the dizzying sequence of events swirling around this administration. The hiring and firing of top level officials is mind-blowing. Those who held catbird seats have had their wings clipped. Meanwhile, the political contagion continues to spread and more heads may roll.
While the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives duke it out, we the people, have the power to vote them out of office. Tempers are boiling over at Town Hall meetings. Our representatives in Congress are walking the thin red line and they know it, or they should.
Even being the President of the United States does not guarantee job security. Impeachment is a consequence of conviction. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached; however, they were later acquitted at trials held by the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned before he faced impeachment.
Enough politics, how about our relationships? We all have been subject to, known someone who or read about betrayal from a spouse or partner. The signs were there, but folks don’t see them, refused to see them or walked around with eyes wide shut. Looking back, there was a whisper of the truth: An errant text message, more time spent at “work” than at home, cell phones went to voicemail and so on.
Then one day a pink slip arrives in the form of a confrontation or a confession. We didn’t know the person we thought we knew. The duplicity is heart-shattering, but here it is staring us in the face. We have been replaced.
Francoise Gilot, artist, author and longtime girlfriend of Pablo Picasso writes, “No one is indispensable to anyone else. You imagine you’re necessary to him or that he will be very unhappy if you leave him, but I’m sure that if you do, within three months he will have fitted another face into your role and you’ll see that no one is suffering because of your absence. You must feel free to do whatever feels best to you. Being someone’s nurse is no way to live unless you’re unable to do anything else. You have to say something on your own and ought to be thinking, first and foremost about that.”
A little back story: Picasso had numerous affairs, two of his mistresses killed themselves and two went mad. (Good Lord! Over a man?) Francoise Gilot was the first women to leave Pablo Picasso, the rest stayed on as doormats. Picasso told Gilot, “Nobody leaves a man like me.” Gilot replied, “We’ll see.” She went on to marry Jonas Salk in 1970. Yup, even the great Picasso was replaced!
Did a situation change to other than you had hoped it would be? Did your dreams and hopes disappear in one fell swoop? These are grindingly difficult times — changes, adjustments, and readjustments will come without our consent.
If life has twisted on you, try to remember the words of my professor. “Just when you think you’re in, you’re out.” It happens! And when you’re out, suck it up. Straighten your crown and walk away with grace like the queen or king that you are.