Picture it: there you are, enjoying your modest (yet pride inducing) newsroom gig. Something you've been at for a few years, but you've worked at getting for nearly two decades. You're itching to volley for more, but life has thrown you a couple roadblocks that have made the volley more of a folly. And then, the call comes. You hear 'That's it--thanks so much for everything, peace out sister friend. Job is over. We're so sorry.'
Welcome to the last few weeks of my life. To say things have been different is putting it kindly--but I try to be kind at every turn of the road (often to my chagrin). When the carpet is yanked, it's hard to not take it personally: was it something I said? something I did? someone who didn't like me? It's also easy to armchair quarterback: why didn't I push to be promoted? was my remote situation what hung me? In fact, just typing this verbiage (all of which I allowed myself one week to ponder) is exhausting to my brain. Because I've decided that none of it matters in the end. The job is over and I can either suffer because of it or I can not suffer because of it.
Don't get me wrong-I am by no means some hugely evolved person looking down from on high (nor do I consider myself to be one). I'm merely a mother and a wife and a me who has worked since the age of 14 and enjoyed pulling my own financial weight accordingly. I'm a me who touched down in NYC at the age of 19 with $50 and a dream that I was able to realize. I'm a me who comes from strong, stoic farm stock and managed to crack into corporate America, the Ivy League and the NYC literati. And I bled for it.
So, this sucks.
But, this is also an opportunity. An opportunity to get creative, to stretch, to grow. An opportunity to fail and flop and flip. It's a chance I've never had in my career adventures--I can negotiate my own terms and my own path BUT with the creds to actually be able to do it.
Some things I've learned thus far:
1) PIMP YOUR CONTACTS--this was the smartest move I made and I did it the night I learned of my impending layoff. Why? Over the years, people come in who really take to you. Like me, you can have your quirks, but for some reason, they like you and that's GOOD. When your chips are down, you can call on them and they're often full of ideas and people they'd love to hook you up with. This also teaches you who really has your back and who can pound sand (POUND. SAND.) Also, note that this goes both ways--when you're called upon, don't be a stingy pants.
2) FEEL YOUR FEELS; BE CAREFUL WITH THEM GRUDGES--despite being burned a handful of times in my working life, (POUND. SAND.) I still think it's very important to keep your psychic self defenses up and simultaneously maintain openness. This is a fine dance--do you act natural and chat weather with the passive aggressive B*face who threw you under the bus? Do you smile and say 'Hiiii, how arrrrreeeee you?' Well, it's anybody's guess what you do, but I'm always partial to the sideways smiley meh face :/ while nodding gingerly. That said, there are people I'd about face and run in the other direction if I saw them and that's ok too. On the flip side, I have known people--not me, surely not meeee ;)--who were so hurt by what happened to them at work that they were hanging on long after the shelf life expired. To that, I say: it's still ok, but make sure you are at least trying to move on. Opportunity starts with O as in Get Over it--or something like that.
3) TAKE THE TIME IF YOU CAN--a friend of my family told me something very profound when I announced my layoff "take a BREAK. God has given it to you." I had to really chew on this because I love working. It's all I've known for so long and the idea of a break didn't sit well with me at first. Shouldn't I be frantically on LinkedIn firing off job applications and networking? Shouldn't I be at a career center and my school alumni office handing out resumes ? Shouldn't I? Shouldn't I? Shouldn't I? NO. Because that creates static and soft landings (if you're blessed to have one) are the anti static to cling to.
4) ANNOUNCE YOUR SITUATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA--I debated this one. Do I tell Facebook that my job is ending and I'm looking for work? The answer is HELL YES YOU DO! Remember that contact list I mentioned? It's there too. TRUST!
5) EVALUATE, SOUL SEARCH, REGROUP AND THEN MOVE ON--Part of the good that came from my self-outing on social media is that people reached out to me in droves. They had ideas and leads and encouraging words for me. They shared their own stories and inspired me. They helped me remember that I built this ship, and as surely as I built it, I could continue to guide it with a little elbow grease. They helped me understand that everything I've done up to this point wasn't for nothing. And, some of them gave this upstart former assistant job leads and recommendations. So, I'm a quest but I'm still soul searching. That's something I'll be doing for a while, I think--but with each key stroke, I am steering my boat away from the sad situation that was taken from me and the bright future I get to create.
And, mahalo to that. Mahalo!