Instability is a Way of Life

Back in December 1998, Exxon purchased Mobil for $73.7B creating the world’s largest company. In Northern Virginia, where After December is set, the corporate headquarters of Mobil made ready for change. Many of our neighbors, classmates, and friends were affected by this merger. Many of them moved away, lost jobs, and worried about their future. All right before Christmas.

selective focus photography of santa clause hanging decor
Photo by Oleg Magni on

Uncertainty is part of life. We know the only thing constant is change. We know we have to learn to adapt. We know our lives will shift, morph, go off balance and then get back in balance only to go off balance again.

The resiliency we develop through change is the most valuable skill we can earn.

More than change, though, Corporate Life taught GenX that we couldn’t depend on our employers to look out for us. From the dissolution of pension plans in favor of 401Ks, to the merger-acquisition frenzy of the late 80s and the tech bubble of the 90s, corporate drama created an environment of constant instability.

Add to that the fracturing of the American family through rising rates of divorce and the scandals of trust at the highest levels of government and GenX didn’t so much recognize instability as realize it was a constant state of being.

That may be why so many of us are obsessed with stabilizing now. But that’s for another blog.

When Brian’s parents announce they’re moving, it comes as both a shock and relief to Brian. He’s always hated Northern Virginia and is glad for the excuse to not have to return, and yet he recognizes the loss of “home” is imminent and that his parents have a life that doesn’t include him.

Many of Brian’s realizations are about others having lives that don’t include him.

His friends tell him about their own experiences. Kacie’s parents moved away a while ago, Chris’s parents have been thinking about moving back from Atlanta. The ties that bind them are each other, their shared history, and their commitment to their friendship.

Brian has to decide if “home” is a place, or if it’s about the people who occupy that place.

When companies make decisions that transform lives – whether it’s relocation, layoffs, or promotions – there is a ripple effect. Not only do our physical circumstances change and our mental capacity as well, but our trust is a little tarnished. We are more likely to adapt in the future and less likely to trust that the stability we’re promised is real.

What can we depend on, then? I like to think Brian and The Crew decide to depend on one another. That they invest in each other. And that their bond, forged in Tony’s loss, will be unbreakable.

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