“They’ve started early.”
I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I knew it was inevitable, but I had no idea it would happen so soon.
“I thought we were going to have two weeks to prepare,” I said, my voice shaking.
My co-worker responded with sympathy, “We’ve severed ties with all recruitment agencies, so freelancers can no longer work here.”
I nodded my head, trying to keep my cool. Then, I did the only thing I could think of in that moment – I picked up the phone and called my boyfriend.
“Tom, I’m about to be laid off,” I said abruptly. I felt numb. “I’ll be home soon.”
Tom was silent for a moment, took a deep breath, and replied with resounding conviction, “Everything is going to be just fine.”
I didn’t believe him. I felt embarrassed, scared and cheated. I felt like a failure. After all, it was my first big writing gig and here I was – being laid off.
The rest of the evening was a blur. I packed up my things and drove home in silence. Tom ordered us a pizza, and I cried. You know, the kind of crying where you’re shoving pizza in your face, drooling a little? Yep, that was me.
But guess what happened next?
I didn’t die.
Sure, I was out of the job for a couple of months, but I landed back on my feet in no time. Tom was right. Everything really did turn out to be just fine. I survived being laid off and – dare I say – grew exponentially in the process.
3 Things I Learned from Being Laid Off
While being laid off did turn out to have a happy ending, it wasn’t all flowers and roses along the way. Here are a few things I learned during those two months:
- Save Your Money, But Live Your Life
Yes, you’ll probably need to live on a tight budget after being laid off. After all, the time it takes to find a new job isn’t always certain – sometimes it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the state of the economy.
But saving your money shouldn’t stop you from living your life.
Being laid off is devastating – and even if you think you’ve accepted it you’re probably going to have a few low moments every now and then. This is completely normal.
However, there are plenty of free activities you can do to get out of the house for a few hours and take your mind off of things. For example, you can go for a walk in the park, or around your neighborhood, or you could pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read from the library.
After I lost my job, Tom and I would frequently go to the local, budget-friendly diner down the street. While seemingly insignificant, these early-morning trips were everything to me during those two months.
I learned that just by getting up in the AM, interacting with the waiters, and playing a little Sudoku was all I needed to feel like life was so much more than having a career.
- You’ll Learn to Become Interdependent
One of my biggest flaws? My pride.
I’ve always been the independent type – financially, socially, artistically, etc. But something I learned after being laid off was how to be interdependent.
Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, explains how we develop through three stages of personal and interpersonal effectiveness:
“Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”
For years, I felt I had reached ultimate maturity by being totally independent. I paid my own bills, had my own place and rarely relied on my parents for anything.
I never asked for anything because I thought it was a sign of weakness.
See, being laid off forced me to ask for help – not just financially, but emotionally, as well. As embarrassed as I felt at first, I quickly realized that becoming interdependent opened the door to embracing my own vulnerability.
I can’t do everything alone. No one can.
Yes, I probably could’ve survived financially on my own during those two months. I could’ve kept to myself without letting anyone know how scared I was. I chose, instead, to let go of my pride – to reach out to my friends and family – and to accept that 1 + 1 was so much greater than 2.
- You’ll Have No Choice but To Take Care of Yourself
This one might be the most important lesson of all.
Okay, so you’ve been laid off. You wake up every morning, get on LinkedIn, scour the job listings over a cup of coffee, and apply to each until you’re blue in the face. You even go out of your way to reach out to your network and cold call companies to see if they’re hiring.
Well, you can’t apply to jobs all day, every day. So you’re probably going to have a lot of extra time on your hands. There’s no reason to feel guilty about this.
I repeat: there is no reason to feel guilty about this.
Life has handed you a challenge that you can only control to a certain extent. At the end of the day – after you’ve searched, applied, and called – there is absolutely nothing else you can do but wait until you hear back.
This will drive you insane.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of you. That means eating well, doing the things that give you joy, meditating, getting some well-deserved rest and exercising – all things that are difficult to do when you have a full-time job.
Take advantage of this extra time to take care of yourself. If you’re feeling guilty about it, know that it will serve you well once you land your next job. You’ll feel more energized, nourished and rejuvenated – something a potential employer will see right away.
Being Laid Off Made Me a Better Version of Myself
When I was interviewing for what turned out to be my next job, my soon-to-be manager had heard about everyone being let go from my last company. An incredibly sweet person, she expressed deep sympathy for the situation.
I thanked her and then proceeded to tell her that while a difficult experience, it was exactly what I needed.
She cocked her head, slightly confused.
“You see, before I was laid off, I was going through the motions. I worked hard and barely had enough time to take care of myself. I was often getting sick, feeling sluggish and barely having enough time for friends and family,” I said.
During those two months of unemployment I was forced to confront my situation and take care of myself. I relied on the people who cared about me, reevaluated my career, and readjusted my priorities.
Being laid off was anything but a misfortune – it was a blessing in disguise.
Author: Caitlin McGillicuddy
Author Bio: Caitlin McGillicuddy is a twenty-something freelance copywriter and editor, specialized in digital copy including social media, email, SEO, and web copy. Based in Columbus, Ohio, she is passionate about conversion copywriting, blogging, literature and creative short-form copy. Contact Caitlin for coffee and collaboration!
Link to social media or website: https://caitmcgillicuddy.com