The real feelings of losing your job
Being laid off sucks. Even if you didn’t love your job, and worse, if you did.
Speaking to my own experience, it’s a loss. It feels like rejection. It reinforces a belief system of worthlessness, even if you’re ready for it. Even if you understand.
For most of us, our work is our identity. We have formed most of our thought patterning and decision making around this role that we do almost every day of our lives. A role that can be taken away.
You might experience shock, like I did. After that comes loss, I cried, they cried. It felt helpless, hopeless.
Then the shame. The shame of having to tell your loved ones that you don’t know who you are anymore. This usually comes in a knee jerk reaction and most tear it off like a bandaid, reaching out while still in the haze of absorbing what’s going on.
Whatever you’re experiencing, whatever is coming up for you, lean in. You are entitled to those feelings. You are entitled to the relief, the rejection, the worry, the uncertainty. You are entitled to all the ones I haven’t mentioned that you’re feeling.
I remember what it was like watching my friends be let go, one by one. Grateful I still had work but guilty that I was left. Then the worry set in and I began to walk on eggshells. When was the next round? Would I be in it?
It is an emotional rollercoaster like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It took me a long time to process and work through the emotions that come with losing your work.
It also opened me up to experiencing myself without a role. This was uncomfortable. It was like becoming an adult all over again, I didn't know who I was.
Who am I now? What do I do to fill the hours? And most importantly, how will I validate my existence?
We are validated by our work. Our work gives us purpose. If we weren’t working on ourselves, too, we probably don’t feel like we have purpose anymore.
I haven’t done this yet, but I wonder if the experience of my kids moving out will leave me with the same feelings.
This is a beautiful time to re-introduce the concept of being complete without external validation. It is a time to remember that you were born whole with purpose and this could be a beautiful opportunity to explore what that looks like.
The path ahead is uncertain, frightening at times. You’ve always been a survivor and now you’re being called again.
Don’t forget that your feelings are all valid and beautifully serving their purpose of navigating you through this time. You don’t have to do it alone, you can reach out and if you aren’t comfortable with that, make the pen and paper your friend and journal your experiences. It is a useful tool to relieve anxiety of the swirling thoughts.
You were never your job. You completed your job brilliantly, but it was never you and you were never it.
You’ve experienced a loss. At the end of this, if we follow through to the end, we will find meaning. A deepening of our experience with ourselves through this expansive journey of letting go.