Editorial

Furloughed, Fucked and Full of Fear

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This is painful for a number of obvious reasons, but pointedly painful since I finally thought my years of struggling, scraping and scrounging – years of beating the shit out of myself until I’m half dead to make rent – might be over. Suddenly, I’m thrown in the opposite direction, forced to kick the struggle into higher gears than ever before. It’s really almost comical, as if I were sprayed years ago with a potent income repellent that simply won’t wash off, like a tattoo.

When people ask me why I never went further as an actor, one of my cheeky stock responses is that I’m clearly not interesting enough, smart enough or pretty enough. That sarcasm actually comes from a sick belief that I’ve subconsciously sold myself. When it comes to earning a living, achieving success or finding companionship, I’ve told myself on some level that those things are for people who are smarter, more interesting and more attractive than I. (Although my stock line about being single is that “I’ve yet to meet a man who’s man enough.”) When it comes to ostensible markers of success, I’ve always felt like an outsider, looking through a window into a party that I was never invited to. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I’ve always been somewhat of a loner. I don’t feel like I’m good enough.

I have to give the CEO of our company credit for calling me directly to inform me that I was being furloughed. It was the right thing for him to do, and I appreciated his directness. He said some very nice things about me and the value I brought to the business, and that the current situation made my continued salary unsustainable. (Un)fair enough.

Now here’s the translation I played in my head: “You and what you offer are really not essential to the business, and we really can’t continue to waste money on something that has such low value. Thanks for coming, but we don’t need you. Best of luck.”

Of course he said none of those things, but it’s where my head goes. As I maneuver through life, I often operate with a GPS that navigates with a map of feelings instead of facts. It’s not a fact that I have no value. It’s just a feeling. But it is a fact that I often feel like I have no value (if that makes any sense).

How have I gotten this far, to the age of 50? By faking it, of course. I feel as if I have fooled enough people into thinking that I’m smarter, more interesting, more valuable, more attractive than I actually am. And that’s how I’ve survived. Underneath every accomplishment I’ve ever achieved lurks the classic imposter syndrome, telling me I don’t deserve it and that someone will eventually discover my grift.

When the CEO called me yesterday, it felt like someone finally caught up with my grift and called me out on it. (Again… not a fact. Just a feeling, however fleeting.)

I’m not writing this to solicit any sympathetic responses or comments like, “But George, you are smart, you are…,” etc. Truly. I’m just telling the truth, revealing that I’m a regular guy riddled with a lot of insecurities and, right now, a lot of fear. And if anyone else feels this way, know that you’re not alone and that it ain’t just you.

So here I am, furloughed, fucked, furious and full of fear. I have no idea what’s next.

Back to faking it, I suppose. And somehow coming up with a Plan Z.

Post Script:

Among the group of people who help me stay sober, we have a little prayer about acceptance. I’ve been repeating it to myself on a loop, and it’s given me some solace.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

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17 Comments

  1. Mr Paul Teale Reply

    George I always enjoy your posts and feel for you at this time, hopefully some of that 2 trillion will trickle down to you as you could do with a break, keep your chin up and stay safe!

  2. My dear George, I’m so sorry to read this. You add tremendous value to anyone who takes your talents into their universe—nothing less. You are at once a learned partner, a bright spirit and a friend—anyone who engages you will be all the more successful for having done so.

    I get the imposter syndrome; it’s such a common affliction. But your ability to kick down barriers and survive will never evade you.

    As the challenge of actually meeting a Coalition of the Willing is so much higher amid the virus, work your indirect presentation. I will keep my ear to the ground for you.

    Your voice is vital; keep puting it out there, my friend. Godspeed. <3

  3. You’re not alone in those feelings: imposter syndrome, the treadmill of trying to escape to something more than you think you are, the pandemic and what’s to come. I know our lives are very different–I’m holed up in San Francisco with my wife and daughter. And I know it’s certainly awkward to say something in comments instead of being next to a human being and just listening. But I hope you get everything you deserve and if there’s a way to send a virtual hug, I’d do it.

  4. George, I’m sorry to hear. As a long time follower, I think you will bounce back from this and go beyond your own expectations. Stay strong and safe.

  5. From your babysitter ! Can I remind you that we can’t get to where you’re going without the journey. Eventually we find out it’s really all about the journey! Love you always ! Mkay

  6. You sound exactly like the sort of person who needs to work for themselves….hang in there.

  7. Nicole O’Shea Reply

    I have always looked up to you, George for your resiliency, your adaptability, and your sense of humor. Go dedicate yourself to a new plan. If you need something, and I can help you with it, I will.

  8. I am really very sorry to hear this. First of all, can I say you write beautifully? You really have an ability to express yourself. My husband lost his job of 15 years in September. We are a family of five and I hadn’t worked since our second child was born. We lived on savings for 6 months, and my husband started a new job in January. He is in a business that will most likely be hurt by this pandemic. I say all this to let you know that I KNOW the stress, anxiety, etc. you are going through. Two weeks ago my chest was constricting and although I am normally a calm person, I was suffering some severe anxiety. A mindset that has helped me immensely is to only think of TODAY. I don’t allow myself to think of the past for too long and I certainly am not thinking further ahead than today. Of course, I plan, etc. But I’m not allowing myself to go down that rabbit hole of the future. I realize that Jesus has taken care of all my yesterdays even if they weren’t exactly as I had planned and that I will be ok in the future. I had come to that conclusion and literally the next day, my daughter’s school sent this poem in a newsletter regarding the covid situation. It really helped me and I hope you might find comfort in it too.

    Today, I will live today.
    Yesterday has passed.
    Tomorrow is not yet.
    I’m left with today.
    So, today, I will live today.
    Relive yesterday? No.
    I will learn from it.
    I will seek mercy for it.
    I will take joy in it.
    But I won’t live in it.
    The sun has set on yesterday.
    The sun has yet to rise on tomorrow.
    Worry about the future? To what gain?
    It deserves a glance, nothing more.
    I can’t change tomorrow until tomorrow.
    Today, I will live today.
    I will face today’s challenges with today’s strength.
    I will dance today’s waltz with today’s music.
    I will celebrate today’s opportunities with today’s hope.
    Today.

    by Max Lucado
    “Anxious for Nothing”

  9. Karen Blauser Reply

    My heart is aching for you, George. You are in my prayers. There just has to be a wonderful rainbow ahead of this dark storm you are in at present.

  10. Mitch Teplitsky Reply

    Hi George – I’m the guy who spotted you at the W 81st St entrance of Central Park and said: “Are you George Hahn?” (and have the photo to prove it:) ) Just wanted to echo, you’re not alone, and keep writing/sharing. You’ve written so many things that I can relate to. I’ve been pretty active in a men’s group for the last several years (both in NYC and Bloomington), and this is exactly what we grapple with and share and support each other – those feelings we hide. Well, I’m back in Indiana for now, but always returning to NYC. I l’ll look forward to reading/hearing more about your adventures, and perhaps meet up again, randomly or otherwise!

  11. Wow George, so sorry to hear. I have to say I admire how you express your fears and self doubt.

    These days everyone is fearing that phone call. I’ve been telling myself to keep busy because its hard to hit a moving target. I’ll see how long that holds up.

    Between the death rate and unemployment rate it’s really hard to be positive, but I hope you pull through. When the smoke clears I hope you find an old agent and put that great voice of yours to work.

    Have you tried to contact the people at Monacle? They have bureaus all over except right here in NYC. You could be that voice.

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