No, I’m not going to be that employee who bad mouths her employer for laying her off. It’s really not my style. Because you know something? Shit seriously happens.
I was somehow sane enough to wait to write anything. Last week I was pretty blue, and I didn’t trust the words that would pour out of my weakened spirit. Then I performed the classic “should I or shouldn’t I” blogging dance. Should I write about losing my job?
Even though I wasn’t at fault, I felt ashamed when I set my sad little box of desk belongings on the kitchen floor. Over and over again, I replayed any possible missteps I might have taken at my job over the past two years that led me here—to being let go.
I remembered how hard it was for me to find an empty box through my blurred, tear-soaked vision on my last day. I looked all over the damn office and I couldn’t even find one. So I dumped some random files out of the closest box on the counter and made a run for it.
All of last week I was trapped in the unforgiving fog of failure. As it lifted, I realized I needed to write about my experience. Because writing is my free therapy, and also, I know a lot of you out there can relate to losing a job.
I don’t believe writing about a layoff should be taboo. This post isn’t about blame or injustice, or any other negativity that is a waste of energy—it’s about living and learning.
I have only lost one other job in my life. It was just after 9/11 and I was slaving away at the front desk of one of those big, boring chain hotels. The hospitality and tourism industry was hit pretty hard. Instead of layoffs, they trimmed the fat by finding excuses to fire their part-time staff.
That was me. And that was when I first learned how wonderful being fired can be.
Don’t get me wrong. I was 19, up shit creek with no savings, a full-time college student living at home but making just enough for my car payment, cellphone, and some junk food.
Like an unstoppable avalanche, that sudden life change prompted several more life changes. I packed up my stuff and moved to Texas to reconnect with my family and get the hell out of dodge.
I left behind a no-good, abusive boyfriend who was on his way to prison and never looked in the rearview mirror as my self-destructive self became smaller and smaller, until it finally faded in the distance.
About a year after living in Texas, I met Mr. H. And, this all happened because I got fired after a terrorist attack.
That was fifteen years ago.
This job was the first time I knew stability. For going on two years, I kicked ass every day. I really enjoyed what I was doing and I loved my team to pieces—so much that I truly felt like they were my second family. Believe it or not, this was my first salaried job in life.
So, yeah. I had finally found my place, a career path, and I felt pretty damn secure.
I certainly had no idea that Monday was going to be the last time I would laugh with my team. We were on an office scavenger hunt, as a reward for our awesomeness in Q1.
The next day I heard a word I had never heard before…severance. Because it was so foreign to me, I didn’t understand what he meant when my boss said it.
On Wednesday the news was shared with the whole team. I tried to wrap things up in between depressive fits. It was pretty impossible.
Thursday I packed up my things into the sad box I stole.
On Friday I was hungover from booze and emotions, sitting in my living room without knowing what to do with myself. You think you should be doing what you normally do on Fridays—attending end of the week meetings, powering through your to-do list to make Monday more palatable, planning the fun weekend ahead. I was lost.
That weekend I made a choice. I needed to bounce back—the pity party was SO over.
Even though I felt like I had been hit by a bus, I started updating my LinkedIn profile. With Mr. H’s incredible support, I finally decided to take the plunge and pursue a freelancing career.
Yep, I hired myself.
I picked up the healthy habits I had shoved aside during my emotional rollercoaster ride. I meditated, practiced Yoga, ate a big ass salad, drank lots of tea and water, and cooled it on the self-medication masquerading as indulgence.
Slowly, but surely I’m climbing out of a very unexpected dark hole.
It was challenging to get a Life Enthusiast post out—it took me longer than usual to format it, and I smiled big when I hit that publish button. I’m behind on reading my people’s blogs and I miss my third draft very badly.
But, I’m coming back…not as the person you all knew before. I’ve seen and felt too much this past week to go back. And, I don’t want to anyway. I want to look forward—I want to absorb the sunlight and deflect the darkness.
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The weekend before I got let go, I let go of all of my hair.
I wanted to make space for new things in my life. I didn’t know one of those new things was going to be severance. All I knew is that changes were coming.
I’m not exactly ready to say I’m happy this layoff happened. I am absolutely thankful for the experience and education I gained at my job, which are allowing me to go after a career as a freelance writer and content strategist. My boss took a chance on me and gave me an incredible opportunity. I’ll never forget that.
I’ll also never forget all of the beautiful people I worked with. I learned so much from them, enjoyed many awesome times, and they will always be a second family to me.
In the end, I learned that the modern-day human quest for stability and security can’t be found in a job. We can’t expect someone else to provide those qualities in our lives, and we can’t wait for them to come along and land right in our laps. They have to be found within us.
Have you ever gone through a drastic change that led to a whole new life?
P.S. Shameless plug…have some freelance work? Check out what I do on LinkedIn and talk to me!