How a Layoff in My Mid-Twenties Gave Me the Jumpstart I Needed

layoff

“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.

evaluate

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.

roots

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

Stephanie is a walking paradox. A gypsy, vagabond soul with a longing for family more than anything else. Lover of style, art and fashion but adverse to shopping, designer labels and price tags. A vegetarian with an appreciation for the smell of bacon.

9 COMMENTS
  • Amy March 20, 2017

    I too was laid off (now in a dream job) but I remember always coming back to the phrase “Sometimes God breaks for you what you do not have the courage to break yourself” to remind myself that change is always difficult, but that I would get through it. It was truly a lesson in relinquishing control over what I did not have control over and trusting in God’s bigger plan for me. For those who don’t believe in God, this reminder I think is still equally powerful replacing the word “God” with “the universe”. Much love to everyone navigating transitions and undergoing hard changes!

  • Evans March 20, 2017

    When I read the title of this my first thought was, “Did I write an article and not realize it?” Last year I was laid off due to budget cuts a week after my 25th birthday from a job I had started not even 6 months earlier. What should have been extremely stressful for me, turned out to be a huge blessing and continues to be a learning adventure! While I could not have easily left a full-time time job to pursue a freelance graphic design career, finding myself without a job at all seemed to be a great ‘sink or swim’ exercise—and I’m still swimming! Not everything is easy and there are definitely moments I fear this whole freelance thing won’t work forever; but overall, I am actually thankful I lost my job and decided to try out freelancing.

    • Amy March 20, 2017

      I’m so glad you are still “swimming”!! I feel very similarly having found myself in a better job after being forced to leave another after only 4 months. Initially (and even now if I’m honest) I was smarting from the sting of being fired/laid off, but it opened the door for the opportunity I’m currently pursuing (see above for my comment in response to the article). I love your analogy used of it being a “sink or swim” moment.

  • Anonymous March 20, 2017

    Amazing article, i’m glad I came across this. I completely relate. I have a closer walk with God, redefining myself, values, goals, career, learnt that life is one step at a time and mistakes or failures are nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m not the only one. Shutting people out isn’t the best but retreating is the best. I see the light now and I’m happy with the perspective from which I view life and other people’s struggles I didn’t understand.

  • Alicia March 18, 2017

    Wow. This is really inspiring. Not just in terms of job loss but really any challenging season we’re faced with. An inspiration to keep a positive mindset and just push forward.

  • Sara March 18, 2017

    Thanks for sharing this – the same thing happened to me, it’s nice to hear it’s more common than I felt at the time.

    And I totally agree – it gave me a real chance to figure out what I love, what I want to do with my life, and where I want to be.

    I was also living with my parents which totally made it possible for me in a way that wasn’t for a lot of my coworkers with families to feed.

    I relocated for a job (which took 6 months to find), but I’m so happy now that I took the time to figure myself out. It’s hard to call a layoff “fortunate”, but I wouldn’t change one thing about my life right now.

  • Ellen P March 18, 2017

    Really enjoy the article!!

  • Natalie March 18, 2017

    Thanks for sharing your story and I’m so glad it worked out so well for you. You’ve definitely given me some inspiration to follow my passions a bit more and make the most of what I do have

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • I’m so glad you turned a negative event into a positive one. It was a blessing in disguise. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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