THE BLOG

Losing Your Job: One Year On

02/05/2016 20:13

It's April 2015 and I've gone from commuting what feels like 23 hours a day back and forth to London to being stationary with stationery back home in Essex..surrounded by updated CVs and half-drunk cups of cold, weak tea. Six months of employment over, finished.
But this time it wasn't just a temporary internship concluding. It was a real and exciting job that I took seriously and took great pride in. A job that vanished into thin air right before my eyes due to the nature of working at a startup in an incredibly unpredictable and uncertain world.
I guess this is the part where, were it a film, a friend (probably with an American accent) comes to see you, glass of wine in hand, and putting their hand on your shoulder tells you 'honey, it was fun while it lasted.'

When you, or someone you love loses their job, it can be difficult to know what to feel or say, you just know that more often than not, you wake up each day feeling something , be it apathy, lethargy, angry, confusion, loss, or frustration.

Because when you lose your job you don't just lose a monthly salary, or a list of potential 'ooh maybe I'll book a holiday to Slovakia this month, or three new Penguin Clothbound Classics' purchases. It's more than that. You lose a sense of identity, of purpose, and a reason to get up in the morning and squeeze yourself into a packed Central Line in a manner that would put a contortionist to shame. No. You lose what feels like the biggest part of you, at least during the working week. You become the ghost of 9-to-5s past.

This time last year, I and a couple of my colleagues (and more truthfully dear friends), due to lack of financial investment, lost our jobs. Some people might be envious - "Think of all that free time you have now! You could travel, or go shopping, and get into the gym routine you've always wanted. This is an opportunity, if albeit dressed in unwelcome circumstantial clothing. Grasp it." And yet, funnily enough, being unemployed suddenly wasn't a welcome addition to my life. It's no fun being the broke person with too much time and an overactive mind at a party when all potential guests are at work. It just feels like being the unwanted, soggy sandwich at the picnic.

But don't despair, my moist-crusted bread peers. Job loss is something you can, and will overcome. And believe me, it is possible to feel ever stronger and happier afterwards.

Seeing as it is now April 2016, I felt compelled to write about my experience of job loss (and now, 12 months on, job gain) because a lot has changed in those 12 months. I have gone from being a 'oh god please don't make me look for jobs again' 23 year old living at home with no intentions or job-security to move out to being a full-time Londoner in both work and residence. 365 days carry a great deal of change and potential.

Give yourself time to adjust and grieve for your loss. I looked to poetry to write out my insecurities, upset, and uncertainty of the future - you'll find something that can help you too.

Don't rush either. A lovely and friendly recruiter contacted me with details of a job role she thought was suitable for me. Except the interview was to be conducted the day after I had finished my previous job, and I wasn't ready to move on just yet mentally, let alone muster and prepare a 20 minute presentation on content strategy.

When you're working somewhere, it's easy to just try and think it's a means to live, but when you're emotionally invested in a workplace it's not as easy as waking up the next day moist-eyed and ready for the next chaper...and that's okay. I was honest with myself and my recruiter and turned that interview down. Having the power and brutal honesty to say no turned out to be the best decision. It led me to find my current role just a few weeks later and apply when I felt more myself and strong enough to tackle interviews, applications, and meeting new people again.

When I look back at where I was this time last year, not only was I in a different place geographically, but emotionally I was a mess. Crying everyday became the norm, leaving the house felt impossible, I disconnected with friends I loved, and quite truthfully just gave up on the days that felt like they were racing by me in a blur *montage style in a film*, but equally felt as though they weren't moving at all. When you're career-driven and ambitious, it can feel like everything you've worked hard for is, in want of a better word, redundant.
Because when you're so busy commuting, working, doing your best to meet the next deadline, it's easy to forget what it's like to have too much time on your hands, you might even yearn for it. But when time is all you have on your plate, it can turn your mind into a fragile, glass palace built on foundations of confusion, rejection, and despair.

Don't begrudge yourself time to be upset and take stock of things. And don't feel guilty about it either. Friends worth knowing will understand and support you while you try to support yourself, no matter how long it takes you to get there. Make a plan, give yourself a pep talk or ten if needs be, remember your good qualities and strengths, and turn job searching into a full-time job. The structure will help fuel your ability and enthusiasm to find your next challenge.

If there is one thing that 12 months passing by has confirmed to me, is that (who'd have thought it!) you can never predict the future. And while it's scary, it's exciting too. Losing my job last year has meant that I'm all the more grateful for working in my current workplace; a stable work place with a strong and brilliant team that supports one another. When you're so low you feel you can't sink any further, the reality is that actually Yazz was right, the only way is up.

So promise me you'll keep talking. Be honest with your feelings and be honest with those around you. Clean up your CV and take the plunge, when you're ready or feel you're closest to being ready, and see what else is out there.

The opportunity dressed in albeit unwelcome circumstantial clothing might have arrived at your door prematurely in the past, but it might just turn out to be a better fit for you than your last role. And you'll soon be back to wishing you had more free time on your hands - I am sure of it.

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