Updated: Jan 27, 2023
I'll go through a few words of encouragement I hope will help you here, and you can scroll down at the end to see the resources I've created to help make this time easier for you!
I remember not even closing my laptop before my screen went black after the dreaded Zoom call occurred: I was locked out of my work computer and laid off from the company I'd worked for over the past five years in a matter of five minutes that felt like five seconds and an eternity, all wrapped into one.
I just sat there, not quite sure what to do. I'd never been laid off before, and I was shocked. I had loved the company I'd worked for and now my time there was just *poof* gone.
I cried. I sat in silence. I called a friend. I cried some more. I gaped at the black screen. I cried more when another well-intended (but unfortunately a little unaware) friend insensitively said, "sorry you were fired." I wasn't fired. I had been laid off; the company could no longer afford to keep me.
The many moments and months that followed that one moment were hard, but, as Dumbledore said, "happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." It is hard. But there are still moments of joy available to you now and a fuller, happier existence possible for you in the future.
If This Happened to You
If you were recently laid off, first and foremost, I'm so sorry. You are not alone.
I'm not going to sugarcoat it: experiencing a layoff is just hard.
You will get through it, but sometimes it's difficult to know what to do or how to cope while you're in-between now and a brighter future (that unfortunately may not be exactly hurrying to reveal itself as quickly as we might like at the moment!).
A lot of articles about layoffs cover how to organize your finances, how to craft a stellar résumé (and the occasional cover letter), and how to interview well. I'm going to write instead some encouragement to you about what isn't talked about often but what may be the most important of everything that comes with a layoff: how it impacts you emotionally.
The Emotional Impact of Layoffs
First of all, what a lot of well-intentioned friends and family who haven't experienced a layoff may not realize is that when you lose your job, you're dealing with a loss. Written that way it sounds obvious, but even when I first went through it, I didn't realize I was experiencing symptoms of loss.
When we go through a loss, as Kübler Ross' popular grief model explains, we often go through 5 stages of grief:
denial (disbelief it happened),
anger (at the stress unfortunate circumstances are burdening you with),
bargaining (trying to grasp the reality of your situation),
depression (deep sadness that affects everything you do), and
acceptance (of your new reality and getting ready to move forward).
Other grief experts have added a whole gaggle of emotions to those, too.
It makes sense, then, that your friends (and not to mention you yourself) may be surprised as you find your emotions seem to change with the wind these days. I get it. I felt all of the emotions listed above and then some. It is normal. The is nothing wrong with you.
On top of this, going through a layoff is listed as one of the most difficult life events a person can endure in their lifetime.
To sum up my thoughts here: you are not alone in feeling how you're feeling. In all of how you're feeling. You are grieving a loss and a massive negative life event. There is nothing wrong with you.
The Emotions You Feel Will Change
With the passing of time, and the more committed you are to feeling your feelings so you can move past and through them (no matter how not-so-fun the process is), your emotions will change as you get used to — and I apologize in advance for using this phrase — your "new normal."
I'm almost five (!) months into a layoff and am still searching for a new role as I write this, and my sleep schedule is wildly off. If I'm honest — which I promise to be — I still have days I feel anxious about the future or depressed about the past and my current circumstances. But it has gotten better, and I have learned how to reset myself more quickly.
Here are some things I recommend to help you feel better right now:
Talk to a friend on the phone or meet up with a friend who is compassionate. It's amazing how much someone who cares for you can lift your mood when you're feeling down. Bonus: I've called wise friends to help me make a game plan for what to do next when what I'd been doing wasn't working or circumstances worsened. It's helpful to have another point of view!
Move around a little. Even a small walk will make you feel so much better. I've often called friends and gone on walks with them on the phone or listened to uplifting music or podcasts while I stroll to help keep me moving and breathing fresh air.
Write what you're grateful for in a journal. When you focus on gratitude, you find more things to be grateful for. When you write down how you're feeling, it can also help you process it and move through those emotions faster.
Do something relaxing for you. Take a bath. Read a book. Put on a face mask. Or do all three (one good thing is you now have more time for some much needed self-care!). It can be something small or big, as long as it relaxes you.
Distract yourself for a moment to give your brain a break. Watching something, reading something, or listening to something is really helpful to put yourself into another world other than your own for a moment. It's good to take breaks like this. In fact, watching something you love again really helps calm anxiety because you already know what's going to happen.
Take a moment to dream of where you'd like to be in life. Like where you'd really like to be if you had the choice. Spoiler alert: you do get to choose! You might take a path with a few stops along the way, but now's the perfect time to allow yourself to decide what direction you'd like your life to go in next. Bonus: it'll help you not feel as stuck in this season if you know where you're aiming for next!
Give Yourself the Space and Grace to Dream Again
The last point there is probably the most important here when it comes to moving forward out of this season. You have a super unique opportunity to use a bummer of a time to create a better life for yourself in the future.
Take a moment to ask yourself:
What do I really want out of life?
How do I want to feel in the future?
Who do I want to become?
How can I take steps to get there?
What sort of role should I be looking for next to help me get there?
Let yourself think of the future in a way that is hopeful and exciting instead of ominous and anxiety-inducing. It will help you move forward when you don't feel like moving at all.
Final Thoughts (for now!)
You will get through this. The job climate as I write, after months and months of layoffs impacting multiple industries and especially the the tech sector, is just getting worse. You are not alone. Thousands upon thousands have been laid off this week alone as I write this. BUT we will come out on the other side. Together.
There is also something really special you get when you go through hardships like this, and it is this: someday, you'll be able to help someone else through their hardship like no one else can. You'll be able to say, "I went through it, and I survived." And they'll be comforted by those words, because someday you'll get to share that you thrived, too.
I'm sorry your company couldn't afford you. But that is because you are priceless. If you take the time now to decide what you want for your life, the next part is going to be even better than whatever came before or that you can possibly imagine. But it does help to begin to imagine and hope and dream again!
I have some resources made specifically for those experiencing layoffs right now:
Podcast & Vlog Episode #28:
"Living VicariouslyThrough Yourself"
Real Talk: The Emotional Impact of Layoffs
This can be found: Wherever you listen to podcasts or on YouTube here!
The Layoff Journal
This is a journal written exactly for the circumstances you're in that will help you:
process and move through what you're feeling,
redefine what you know is true,
set in motion the next phase of your life,
help you release what was to receive all that's waiting for you,
and live a fully engaged life even amidst this present hardship
It also includes my super-honest personal stories about going through a layoff, space to journal, and frameworks to work through this season you're in!
This can be found: Here!
*Or learn more from me on this website here!