Joining the Ranks of the Unemployed

Approximately 10 months ago, I made the tough decision to set aside my feelings about corporate jobs and take one. I was in a pretty dark place. Constantly selling myself as a freelancer was getting exhausting and the unending isolation was even worse. 

I wasn’t particularly excited about the job I took, but the company seemed cool and the people I interviewed with made me want to be part of what they were doing. 

For the record, I don’t recommend choosing a job based on culture fit. You may end up a rag-tag group of lifelong friends, but if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it’s damn hard to do it 8 hours a day. 

I thought about quitting and finding something that made a better use of my skills, but I decided to hold out in favor of househunting and starting a family. It was time to kick life into high gear! 

Fast forward to yesterday morning. 

I was finally getting in the zone with a particularly dry and daunting project when I noticed a little red dot on my Slack tab. I expected the usual updates or questions: “I’ve finished my review of blah…Do you have any insights into blah, blah?…What are your priorities for the day, I suggest starting with blah, blah blah” 

Instead, I found a somewhat frantic message from a colleague, let’s call her Tiffany, about a last-minute meeting scheduled by our boss. 

My heart sank. 

After last week’s cryptic message from the CEO about coming to a “sobering realization that the company would need to make changes as a result of COVID-19”, I was waiting for an exit conversation, but I wasn’t ready for it. 

There was still a little over an hour before the meeting was scheduled. Tiffany and I decided to stop working and keep each other company to prevent our brains from spinning out of control. 

I couldn’t take it. I had to put us out of our misery.

I messaged my boss and asked about the topic of the meeting and whether I should prepare anything. His typing notification blinked in and out as he found his words, “This meeting is about some changes. Nothing to prepare. Thanks for checking.” 

It was pretty clear at this point, but I decided to be a tad more direct, just to be sure. I cited the CEO’s email and asked if I should be worried. 

That little typing notification really took its time. Typing. Erased. Typing. Erased. Typing. Erased. And finally, “I’m sorry, I can’t share anything until our meeting.”

It was all the confirmation I needed. 

Sure enough, I logged into the Zoom call to find the human resources rep waiting. It was all very civilized. I was given the proper documents to sign and wished good luck in my future endeavors.  

For a few long hours, I was resigned to secrecy until a formal announcement could be made about the layoffs. When it finally came, it didn’t feel like I thought it would. It didn’t seem to capture the gravity of everything I was feeling. 

It was positioned as a necessary action to save the jobs of those who remained employed. A distinctly, corpse of a virgin left on the alter kind of vibe. 

Once everyone knew I was sacrificed to the gods so that others may live, there was an outpouring of support. Calls, messages, offers to help. 

It was nice and it was overwhelming. 

I said my goodbyes and logged out for the last time. 

It was hard to know what to do with myself for the rest of the day. Do I get out my resume and hit the job boards? Do I eat my weight in ice cream and cry in the bathtub? Nothing really felt right or appropriate. 

The answer was baking brownies to feel productive and eating them all to soothe my pain. 

Last night, I fought my heavy eyelids as long as I could. 

I couldn’t bring myself to sleep, because I wanted to live as long as I could in day one. Day one is where everyone feels bad for you. Day one is where you get sympathy and empathy and nobody cares how many John Hughes movies you watch or your total calorie count. 

On day two, you have to start answering questions about what you’re going to do next. What do you want your career to look like? How will you pay your bills? 

At this point, a careful reader will be thinking about the intro to this post. They’ll be remembering that I kept my job to buy a house and start a family. And while the family part can still be put on hold, my house closes in less than a month. 

This is the most stress I have ever been under, but the unwavering optimist in me can’t help but see it as an opportunity to implement all the things having a corporate job gave me the time and breathing room to ponder. 

I’m starting by dusting off this blog. I plan to write at least a little every day, so if you’re bored at home and want a peek at how someone else is handling it all, I invite you to follow. 

Keep safe and see you tomorrow! 

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