How a Layoff in My Mid-Twenties Gave Me the Jumpstart I Needed
“You are good enough.”
I sat across the table from a friend in a dainty coffee shop on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Her words reverberated across the room, bouncing off the table, clanging across the window chimes, spinning around the revolving door back to slap me in the face.
Good enough? Am I really?
In that moment, and in the weeks leading up to it, questioning my worth had become the norm. I sat there, hair in a messy ponytail wearing oversized sweatpants, clearly underdressed for the swanky shop and pondered her words — the simplicity of them had left me befuddled. It was a true moment of profundity on a cool February evening.
Two weeks prior I had been laid off from my job, unexpectedly and painfully. It was my first big-girl job in LA, an editor job at that. I was pursuing my passion of writing while living in the City of Angels. My dreams were coming true, until suddenly my train derailed. The dream I had been holding so dearly had been swept out from under me and I was at a loss.
In the weeks and months post layoff, I would learn enough lessons to write a book. Lessons about rejection, bouncing back, how a “no” isn’t always a bad thing, the importance of an emergency fund and the value of authentic friendships during hard times. There are some universal truths here that I have found applicable to any rejection, whether it be a job loss, a breakup, a “no” from a college or a friendship ending.
Sometimes, the most painful events that seem like endings to a story are often the beginning of a new, better story.
Rejection forces you to reevaluate what’s important.
Prior to my job loss, I made a list of things I was passionate about as a part of my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to focus on the areas and subject matters that deeply mattered to me, things that excited me, things I wanted so desperately to change and make better, things that I would work on even if there was no income.
I came back to this list after my layoff and quickly realized that perhaps losing my job was a chance to pursue a career path that was more authentic to my passions. This season has helped reacquaint me with the woman in the mirror, what matters to her and the kind of work she is most passionate about.
An unexpected turn can lead to unexpected opportunities.
In my time without a full-time job, I have decided to say “yes” more often. I say yes to things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do with a full-time job like going to museums, volunteering, taking on freelance work, trying out morning and afternoon workout classes and going on coffee dates with friends. Sometimes a closed door redirects you and opens you up to other opportunities and doors that may not have been available before.
This season has helped reacquaint me with the woman in the mirror, what matters to her and the kind of work she is most passionate about.
Life’s hard realities not only act as teachers, but help you help others.
So many people have been where I have been. So many people will be where I am now once this is all a memory to me. At first, I felt so much shame about losing my job. I told friends that I felt like I had gotten all As in adulthood, but then suddenly was handed a D.
However, I realize now that a job loss doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human and, if anything, it gives me empathy to understand other people struggling with rejection of any kind.
During life’s storm, your roots grow deeper.
As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” I hate cliches, but they are typically accurate. What I am learning, though, is that the rain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rain helps you grow, and when you are faced with adversity, it reveals how strong you can be. I have been reminded of my own inner strength to keep pushing forward and to get back up.
Life is hard sometimes. I don’t think there is any other way to put it. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. It deals you an unexpected hand and it’s up to you to make the most of it. As I sit in this season of rain, I am choosing to believe that I am not defined by the things that I lose. I look out with hope, knowing the sun will come again.
When has an unexpected career situation turned out for your benefit?
Images via Nicole Dinh