Swallowing the unemployment pill

“We’re going to have to let you go.”

This is one of the worst sentences you can ever hear in your life. One day, everything is going great at work. You’re in the routine, making things happen, enjoying a steady paycheck and then just like that, your green field of grass turns brown. The sun hides behind the clouds and things become very, very cold. It’s unexpected, swift and usually with no way out. It’s being let go from your job and it sucks.

Unfortunately, I heard those very words three weeks ago. It came as a shock to me, something that ironically came when I was working late one night. I got the call to come into the boss’s office with the classic ‘You got a minute?’ Here’s some advice: if you hear that phrase, be prepared for anything…or run. When paired with ‘Hey, close the door,’ just run…run as FAR away as you can. Feign diarrhea, say your house is on fire or that your brother is giving birth. Just do anything but go in that room.

It wouldn’t be fair to say exactly what was said from either side during this discussion, but the end result was the same: I was no longer going to be enjoying a regular paycheck. Because I wasn’t fired (my position was simply eliminated), I got a nice recommendation and a severance that will get me through for a while, but at the end of the day, I am now jobless and need to find that on ramp onto whatever is next in life. Another friend of mine (in yet another ironic twist) was let go…both of us I highlighted in my last blog. Huh…that’s really, really weird. Apparently this blog is now like that tape in The Ring or something.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the seven stages of grief, a series of emotions people go through after they lose a close one. There are definitely stages involved with situations like this too.

1 – Anger: If you think highly of yourself and your skills, you’re going to be pissed…like punch someone in the face pissed. I vented and fumed about the situation for the better part of the following week. I was furious, frustrated and filled with that bad, bad feeling no one likes to have. Then, it just goes away. You talk and you talk and you talk and eventually, it all comes out in the wash. I’m not angry anymore and it feels very good to be at peace with the decision. I feel like Manny Ramirez or something.

2 – Sadness: I really liked my co-workers and was sad that I didn’t have the chance to say good-bye. I think everyone wants to go out in their own way, but alas, that obviously wasn’t the case here. You start to get complacent and gloomy for stretches, wondering where everything went wrong and maybe what you could have done differently. I loved our group and where our potential was to go as a company, so to not be able to see that to fruition killed me inside. At the risk of sounding less than manly, I was heartbroken. When you work for a small business and you believe in the message, that can happen. Part of this feeling will never go away, but for the most part, I’m ok with this now.

3 – Fear: What will I do for money? How will I pay bills? What should I do next? The economy is bad…what if I can’t find anything? What if…what if…what if? Honestly, I didn’t suffer through this like others that have mortgages, kids and other types of immediate bills but there were pangs of ‘Holy sh*t’ over the past few weeks. Thankfully, I feel I have a skill set and background that won’t have me on the sidelines that much longer. I wasn’t scared that much…just mildly concerned at times. However, I would be terrified if I had a mortgage or a family that relied on me to bring home the financial bacon.

4 – Sunshine: Day by day, conversation by conversation, the clouds start to break and the sun comes out again. You start to get things done like updating your resume and Linked In accounts, reconnecting with people you lost touch with and seeing what else is out there. When you’re in the cocoon of your current life, you don’t see or look for other opportunities that are right in front of you. Eventually, you start to breathe again and realize everything is going to be alright. Great friends, family, advice and life experience help this a lot.

After taking a mental week off to do nothing job-related (a necessity for the recently unemployed), I started climbing out of the grave. I started an email marketing blog where I continue to give the industry tips and tricks, building upon a name I had built for myself over the past 18 months. I reached out to a few magazines about freelancing and heard some encouraging news back. I looked myself in the mirror and decided on exactly what I want to be and how I want to do it. I talked, I listened and I acted.

I live by a corny old adage that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, those reasons are cold and cruel and make no sense but in time, they do. Getting told we don’t want you anymore was a hard pill to swallow but slowly, the effects of that pill have worn off and your friendly neighborhood Nason has emerged from its induced slumber.

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