I’ve been watching the news lately, and hearing the same story over and over. The economy may be recovering, but people are still losing their jobs, or are unable to find work.
Even people who thought they were “safe” because of their job function or industry are having to face unemployment. It can strike at anyone, and it seems widespread. In spite of the “recovery” I see my friends and neighbors losing employment.
Unlike some writers who write of others’ experience, I can speak to this subject from a personal standpoint. I have been through it. And I came out on the other side.
This week, I’m going to share my story, as well as give some very specific examples of things I did to turn my unemployment into a positive experience.
I’m a computer programmer. A web programmer, to be exact. With lot of experience behind me. I was a successful consultant for a large firm, and had been with them for 13 years. My contracts were usually extended, and I had been asked back to many clients. I honestly never thought I would ever be unemployed.
One Thursday afternoon in early October of 2008, 10 minutes before I needed to leave, I was pulled aside by my company’s representative at my client. “We’ve all been let go. We need to clear out our desks by the end of the day.” I was in shock. I had to get home to pick up my daughter from the school bus. I went to the VP and asked if I could go home, get my daughter, and come back to clear out. He gave the OK.
That afternoon was a blur. My co-workers, as shocked as the consultants were, many of whom I had worked with for 3 years, entertained my daughter. I packed. Four shopping bags later, I was on my way home.
I wasn’t particularly concerned. Surely my employer would be able to land a contract for me. After all, I had up-to-date and in-demand skills. The next morning I was on the phone with my corporate office. They assured me they were looking for contracts, and mentioned a place I had already done two successful contracts for.
An hour later I received an email asking me to call corporate to conduct my exit interview.
Yep, they laid me off via email.
The shock set in.
Things To Remember
The first few days after the layoff were depressing. Fortunately for me, I had a good friend who had been through it. I also count among my friends a very wise elderly lady. They both told me a few things to remember:
You are not your job. You may spend the majority of your waking hours at your job. But you, the person inside, are not your job. You have an identity separate from your job skills. Look to the things that fill your life, and make a list of all that you are that is not job-related.
There will be an adjustment period. You can call it grief. You can call it adjustment. But you will have a period of time when you are adjusting to the loss of your job, particularly if it was sudden. For me, I was unbelieving. Then angry. Then I accepted it and started to make plans. (This didn’t all happen at once. I will admit here that I was pretty worthless for about four days.)
“This too shall pass”. My elderly friend of mine, 93 years old, told me this. Everything passes. Things will continue to change, and something will come up. I just had to make myself ready to accept the right opportunity when it came along.
Turning It Positive
Once I got through the adjustment period, I was able to turn the job loss into something positive. I had worked full time since I was 19. That’s many years ago. (I won’t say how many). It was amazing to have large amounts of unstructured time, which I put to good use. I volunteered at my daughter’s school. I cooked nutritious meals. I learned how to run a lawn mower, much to the great amusement of some of my neighbors. I crafted. I relaxed.
My friend Richard (not his real name) has also had a good experience. He was laid off in March of this year. Although he is very marketable, the jobs just weren’t there. So he decided to take time off to be with his two sons. He has spent the summer biking and exploring their neighborhood, as well as turning their backyard into gardens. He did land another job, and it worked out he was able to start in September, after the boys go to school. So his sudden unemployment turned into a summer of experiences with his sons instead of shuffling them off to summer camp.
I’m not trying to make this seem all Pollyanna-ish. Job loss is hard. Finances get strained. It’s a stressful situation. In the next few articles I will talk about what I did to help ease the difficulties until I was able to get back to work.
Photo by Editor B
Articles In The Series:
- Dealing With A Job Loss: Getting Through The First Few Days
- Dealing with a Job Loss: Cutting Back Expenses
- Dealing With a Job Loss: Redistributing Home Work Loads
- Dealing With A Job Loss: Starting the Job Hunt