I Lost My Job, and I’m Still Mentally Recovering
I’ve heard from a few separate people that maybe it’s not strategically wise to announce to the world that I lost my job but, 1. It’s almost 2018 and I feel like blatant honesty is one of the only things we have left, 2. I’m an over-sharer by nature, and 3. If anyone else is dipping into the quarter-life crisis pool right now, I’m here with ya and for ya.
It’s been a little over a month, and I’m not completely healed, per se, but the times when I feel like I have a good grasp on why this was for the best are longer in duration, so that seems like a positive?
Being let go from a company is flat out traumatic. It’s traumatic to walk into a tiny windowless conference room and see your boss but then also see someone you don’t know but, wait, you were just supposed to be meeting with your boss and… oh no. This is happening. You sit down and your boss reads off some very formal legal statement while looking like she wants to be anywhere else in the world and then the HR guy starts walking you through this twenty-page document and you stop him and are like, “Yeah I’m not going to remember even one word that you’re telling me” and it’s the first time you talk so you start crying and this guy you’ve known for sixty seconds hands you a tissue and you’re like, “You do this for a LIVING?” and then he starts talking again but he sounds like that teacher in Charlie Brown and you’re thinking about how you’re going to tell people and you take a break from thinking about that just long enough to think about what a completely worthless piece of shit you must be, and then all of the sudden the conversation is over. Your boss tells you you can wait in the conference room a little longer, to avoid transition time in between meetings and you wonder just how high you can score on the Pathetic Meter for the day but you agree and then they leave and you’re stuck staring at the clock wondering if the minute hand has moved far enough away from the six and close enough to the seven and you’re just staring at it not breathing with tears in your eyes and a coffee mug in your hand wondering just how far this rejection is going to set you back mentally.
It’s kind of like being dumped by someone who you’re not sure that you ever really liked to begin with and then they also take all of your money. What sucks is telling your parents. That is a very specific kind of shame that no one tells you about. They’re understanding and let you cry and tell you it’s okay but you wonder what they’re really thinking in their pauses. You want them to be proud of you and “I got let go from my cushy corporate job” is like one of the worst things you can say to a Generation X parent.
People are like, “Oh, holy shit, I had no idea” and it’s like yeah surprisingly, I’ve been kind of low-key about the darkest voices I have in my head coming to fruition through an entity telling me I’m not of any value to them! I’ve kept those cards pretty close to my chest! Lol!!!
Them: “Oh, I can’t wait to see what you do next! You’ve got something. You’ll find something.”
Me, internally: Actually no one is as special as they think they are and reality is reality. You may never achieve what you want to.
Them: “This is the BEST thing that has ever happened to you.”
Me, internally: You stood in front of the fridge eating prosciutto in an open robe and slippers like Tony fucking Soprano today.
Them: “Whoever gets you next is SO lucky.”
Me, internally: Actually you’re an untalented moron who no one will ever find worthy of long-term employment.
Them: “One day at a time. That’s all you can do.”
Me, internally: That’s a very annoying thing to say and also I’m not going to have health insurance in a month.
There’s this underlying pressure that permeates you to find your career path at a young age. Be so in love with what you do, get a head start so by the time you’re running this game-changing dynasty at 27 people can be like, “SHE’S ONLY 27?!?!” and in turn feel terrible about themselves. It’s weird to realize how much of how we define ourselves is wrapped up into how we contribute to capitalism. And once you’re put out of that wheelhouse that just keeps on spinning without you, you spend a lot of time convincing yourself that you’re more than your productivity and labor, which can be f*cking tricky. I recommend surrounding yourself with people who genuinely believe in you more than you believe in yourself. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have a network of friends who see some sort of talent in me that I struggle to believe is real every. single. day.
I’m on the lucky side, I know that. I don’t have kids, only myself to worry about. If I truly hit financial rock bottom there are probably a couple people who could be there for me. Not everyone has that. And I remind myself of that in my lowest points (crying in the grocery store parking lot for an hour) what a privilege it is to be able to say: “Maybe this is a good thing.”
So what am I scared of? I don’t know how I’m going to live outside of this job-losing PTSD in my next endeavor. Will I just be scared all the time that the end is near and these people don’t need me and are secretly scheming as to how to get rid of me? But what’s worse? Coasting along in a job I’m ultimately unhappy at until something (maybe) better comes along? Or being shoved out of your comfort zone to dial the proverbial radio nob a little more in tune with Your Station? Actually being forced to crack down on your finances like a real live adult? It can be easy to root yourself in comfort. Especially when you’re someone who craves it for a little bit of center in your life, like me.
So I bounce back and forth between feeling like I’ll Be Somebody and feeling like I’m just another average person who doesn’t have what it takes to make it. Wherever and whatever ‘it’ is. But I truly do believe things happen the way they’re supposed to. So things will work out for me. Maybe differently than I expected, but that’s okay. One day at a time.
Liz Welle is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.