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Job loss is a big deal. In the Holmes and Rahe stress scale losing your job is ranked as the eighth most stressful thing that can happen to a person (the only things more stressful than job loss involve death, divorce, and going to jail). If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s completely normal. I feel that way too.
I didn’t think much of it when my boss called me into her office that day. But as soon as I saw the representative from HR sitting in the corner, I had a pretty good idea what was about to happen. I remember asking, “Is this what I think it is?” and it was. I lost my job that day. The next part happened very quickly.
Budget cuts. Very sorry. Laid off. I’d been with the organization for 15 years.
It was over in about half an hour. I remember feeling numb at first, shell-shocked. I went for a long walk afterwards trying to figure out what I was feeling. I think I felt just about everything — fear, anger, sadness, pain, confusion, embarrassment. I remember saying it out loud: I just lost my job. The words felt so strange in my mouth.
This huge part of my life, of my daily routine is over. Done. I was cut loose and I’m either floating or falling, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Titles and roles matter — they tell us who we are and where we fit. When those things were taken away I felt doubt, fear, and insecurity. For more than a decade I’ve been Senior Editor. I have no idea what to call myself now. This huge part of my life, of my daily routine is over. Done. I was cut loose and I’m either floating or falling; sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
I know that some people find change and options liberating, but I tend to find them oppressive. I am a planner (which is a nice way of saying that I worry about the details). Now I have so many questions I can’t answer. I don’t know if I’m looking for another job in the same field or if it’s time to throw off the ropes and try something completely different. Do I want to stay in an office setting? Do I want to go back to school? Is there another job like this one out there, and if there is, how do I find it? (And what if they don’t like me?)
The future has become this big unknown thing and it’s scary. More than once I’ve said, “I wish I could just skip this uncertain part and jump ahead to when I’m in my new role and it’s comfortable again.” Well sure, don’t we all? Growth is hard and it’s often messy and painful. I know that this is just the end of a chapter, not the end of my story, but it’s hard to remember that when I’m doing the hard work of looking for work.
"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." — George Addair
I try to think about what I really want and what I would be willing to do to get it. There is hope mixed in with all of this unwanted uncertainty. It’s just hard to see it some days. As I write this, I don’t know what comes next for me. I have all the questions, but none of the answers. Talking about it helps. If you’d like to talk to someone about your experience, use the form below. A mentor will contact you soon to listen, offer support, and journey with you.