Today is week three – to the date – post layoff. I must say that time flies when you aren’t tethered to a desk plugging away all day in an office! As you might have read in the “About” section, this is my second layoff in about 3 years. One would think that this would feel like old hat to me and I’d be able to skip a range of emotions that naturally flood in when you are “let go”, but that’s not the case.
A layoff feels like a break-up or a death in your family of oneJ. Its considered a major life changing event, so for those of you who find yourselves feeling what you are feeling, don’t worry, you are normal and if you don’t feel anything…then you need to tell me what drug to take to numb the mind!
First there was the shock, but in my gut I knew it was coming – my dream 3 weeks prior pretty much painted the picture for me. Then I celebrated my 35th birthday with my closest friends, 3 days after the layoff and discovered that it was difficult for me to feel happy. It was great seeing my friends and knowing that I have such an amazing support group, but I think at that point the layoff was starting to set-in along with the fact that I was no longer feeling young and not sure what I was going to do in the next phase of my career.
Week two was spent fighting off a horrible cold that had probably been brewing for about a month prior to the layoff and it finally took hold, taking me down by the jugular. And boy, did I ever feel like a big loser – a 35 year old snot-face, house pants wearing, 2 days without a shower or visitors, jobless loser.
After feeling sorry for myself for a couple more days, I finally saw the light and started taking action – plugging away on my resume, setting up the online job search feeds and networking. After all, people would not be knocking on my door offering me jobs! In looking back at my “crazy energy” during this time, I think it was more of an anger frenzy driving me to try to tackle this new problem head on and not let “THEM” tell me I was a loser!
Now it’s week three – and I’ve settled into my new life, however temporary, and have accepted whatever the universe has in store for me. Setting up a weekly routine is helpful and I’ve also started exploring hobbies that were put on hold, like photography, and I’ve begun new ones like blogging and soon plan to start painting abstracts. Exercise is also key – especially cycling, walking, boxing and yoga (love the boxing and yoga…beat shit up then relax away the bad energy!). And, most importantly, I’ve been given the gift of time to share some quality time with my almost 90yr old grandmother (birthday is this Sunday), helping her with grocery shopping, listening to her stories even if they sometimes feel like stories from “back in St. Olaf” – she loves the company and I have an opportunity to make her day brighter with these visits.
So – I realize I have rambled on a bit – so going to end this with a few words of advice to those loved ones who are possibly concerned about “how you are doing” post layoff. Remind them that you will experience a range of emotions, some of which are hard to watch you go through. But, you have to go through the cycle and the only thing they can really do to help is listen, validate your feelings and show compassion and empathy. They can’t fix the problem or give you answers and the last thing they should be doing is telling you what you SHOULD be doing. The “shoulds” don’t help – it just feeds the anxiety and we know what we “should be doing” and will do it when we are ready. Just get us out of our house pants, out of the house and find ways to make us smile – the rest is up to us.