Job Loss: First Impressions (Johnny)

You've Been Severed (Part II)

Well this should be a fun post! Wait a minute, how was I convinced to write a post about getting laid off? More specifically, a post about my feelings of getting laid off? Uh, no thanks. Let this be a lesson to all Candy Crush addicts — listen to what you’re agreeing to before mumbling “Sure, whatever.”

Interestingly enough, I decided to write a few journal entries in the days following my layoff. Why, you ask? Mostly because I had time. It felt like a productive thing to do. It also seemed like a healthy way to vent. Much healthier than, say, driving my car through my former employer’s brick building.

So join me as my former, laid-off me recounts (in abridged form) the first few days after getting laid off.

WARNING: I am not responsible for the emo drivel you are about to read. I mean, yeah, I wrote it, but no, I’m not responsible for the fork you may decide to stick in your eyeball(s) after reading this. And with that… enjoy!

Day 0

Well, that sucks.

Surreal. That’s the only way to describe it. From the two-minute “We’re going to be letting a lot of talented people go today” speech at our mandatory 9am meeting. To the email I received at 2pm with the ominous subject line “meeting” when I thought I just might be in the clear. To sitting in front of my boss and HR director in the makeshift slaughterhouse complete with butcher’s paper hastily taped over the single window into the hallway providing a semblance of privacy while we were put down. To being handed the dreaded manilla envelope stuffed full of “You don’t work here anymore, got it?” paperwork.

As I exited the back doorway (to avoid seeing anyone) for the last time, I called Joanna still in shock. My denial gradually turned to anger as I recounted the day to her. What a mismanaged day. What a mismanaged company. When I arrived home, I put my overflowing bag down in the family room and made the walk of shame up the stairs and into the bedroom. There was Joanna, sitting with our little girl. Baby Girl heard me coming and looked over. Now I was looking face-to-face with the two women I had let down. It took everything in me to not break down then and there. In my head, I thought the silver lining was that she was young enough that she wouldn’t remember this day.

In a continuation of denial, I maintained an optimistic attitude. But as my time at home dragged on this afternoon, the lows began to set in. I began putting myself in imaginary meetings that surely weren’t so imaginary these last few weeks. In my head, I watched as they deliberated my standing with the company. I watched as my directors shrugged their shoulders when my name was called. No one was fighting for me. No one thought I was worth sticking their neck out for. It makes me wonder what they thought as they saw me in the halls the week preceding D-Day. Did it weigh on their conscience at all? Did they justify what they said or didn’t say in their heads? None of it would matter in a week because they’d never see me again.

There’s no two ways about it. Today was one of the lowest of my life. And despite it all, I still feel the right thing happened. I’m confident I’ll look back and see this as one of the single most important days of my life.

Day 1

So this is what “freedom” feels like.

I woke up about the same time as usual. Maybe a little earlier. I went about my normal routine, even clipping my fingernails before my shower. That never happens. I got dressed in my “interview” blue plaid shirt, grabbed my phone, and headed downstairs to talk to a recruiter who had coincidentally contacted me on Friday. I was excited to hear more about the position, the opportunity, and to hear that someone thought I was worth something. It’s amazing how undervalued that is.

The call was pretty lackluster. Contract position. Six months. Maybe a year. Richmond. Mediocre rate. Blah.

It was trash day, so I had to back up the car to roll the trash and recycle bins out to the street. At nearly the exact time I’d typically be driving off to work, I rolled the garage up and put the car in reverse, knowing full well that I wasn’t actually going anywhere. I rolled the bins to the street as our neighbors scattered off to their normal, contributing-member-of-society jobs. I got back in the car, put it in drive, and idled it six feet forward. I closed the garage and the outside world behind me.

The only perk of working from home today was going on a walk with Joanna and Baby Girl at 3pm. It was nice to be with my girls. I don’t like them seeing me like this, but I don’t really have a choice. And I’d rather be near them than alone right now.

While I wanted to take my next steps slowly to avoid a repeat of this disaster , I get the sense that my anxiety will compel me to expedite the job search. And I’m really not too excited about the prospects. What I need to realize is that no job will ever be perfect. It’s a job and it pays the bills. That’s that.

Also, I’m writing this at 3am. Cool.

Day 2

Perk #1: 10:30am tee time.

I always remember driving by the golf course in the morning and wondering, “How do those guys have time to golf during the day? They’re not retired, so what gives?” Maybe everyone on the course playing today was laid off too! I say that like it’s a good thing.

Today was a little brighter. Joanna and I discussed some options and decided that we’re probably not ready to jump the full-time employment ship just yet. Which means I’m going to work two leads while I cobble some freelance work together in the meantime.

I was telling Joanna today that people in the creative industry need hits of validation. An award, a portfolio-worthy campaign, a “job well done” email from a boss. I realized that I haven’t had that validation for a long time. And any fumes I was still running on were sucker punched out of my lungs on Monday. I’m completely rudderless in the self-esteem department and that unfortunately affects a lot of how I look at the future prospects.

Things will work out. They always do. But I haven’t a clue how it’ll happen.

Now that was fun, wasn’t it?! In the event you didn’t hear the news, I’ve since found an awesome job in Utah and life is great. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the whole layoff process, but for now, I’ll spare you from making this the longest most depressing post ever. 🙂

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  • Reply Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennie August 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

    “Job well done, Johnny.”

    Seriously, I think you guys made the best of a bad situation. It’s not surprising that it can feel like a sucker punch and might take a couple days to mentally process and really come to terms with.

    Hope you’re loving your new gig and town!

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 12:55 am

      Two thumbs up on gig and location. I’d rather all of those changes been spurned by something other than a layoff, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it would have happened without it. So thanks layoff!

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup August 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I can understand the feeling of letting down the ones you love, but I think you did exactly what should have been done. You picked yourself up and get on with you life. You are now working again and things are looking up. Nice work Johnny!

  • Reply Jaclyn August 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Okay, maybe this was morbid, but I enjoyed reading this. When I was laid off last year, I went through a lot of the same emotions. My company actually gave my whole department 3 months notice – great to be able to prepare for it, but a TORTUROUS 3 months that was. I remember that day though, just feeling kind of stunned, and frozen. I also loved the way we had a mid-meeting morning announcing that we were ALL being laid off, and then had to go back to work. lol. I tell you what..

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 12:59 am

      Ugh. I can definitely see the good and bad with having that sort of prep time.

      I’ve been surprised at the support network. Even though 30-something people got the pink slip the same day as me, I still felt totally alone. And as I came to grips with reality and understanding that things would turn out okay, I began opening up more. And lo and behold, and came to find out a lot of other friends and family members I knew had gone through similar experiences.

      Hope you’ve landed on your feet and that all is well now.

  • Reply Michelle August 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Heavy sigh! I am so happy that things worked out.

  • Reply Rob August 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Been there, done that, dude – years ago, halfway thru my recently completed job career so I can relate to the feelings that you experienced. Except in my case, it was not so quick and clear cut. The company, over 2 years, carried over several mass layoffs and so those (like me) who were not canned in the first layoff wave were on pins and needles wondering when it might be our turn. In the meantime we remaining employees had to continue being “productive”, picking up the slack from those just departed, unable to make future plans for purchases, for vacations, etc. In a nutshell, morale sucked. Finally I got the word – ta ta, it’s been a blast, bye bye. Then came the initial emotions (like you experienced), followed by time passing, applications sent out, resume reworked, meetings planned, rejection letters received (or not at all), wondering if a job would ever be found, trying to keep optimistic and not giving up. And then – finally – success! A new job, a new beginning, and we’re back in harness again.

    But, you know what? That all said, having gone through the whole process, afterwards I felt that never again would I fear being laid off as I know that eventually I’d be employed again. I learned to have balance between work and personal life, We owe that much to ourselves and to our families, who (often silently) supported us through those dark days of unemployment, often worried as much as us (but trying so hard not to let on).

    And so life goes on, right? Good luck in the new job Johnny.

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 1:03 am

      After reading your and Jaclyn’s comments, I’m pretty grateful that the process was as sudden and unexpected as it was. I’m sure it’s awful knowing your (and everyone else’s) fate is always in jeopardy.

      You’re perspective after the lay off is spot on. There were days in the beginning that I thought I’d never work again. And then within five or six weeks, I was sitting on three offers. Patience is hard in a situation where you feel so helpless, but having gone through it once, I’d weather it much more poised a second time around. Which I’m hoping I won’t have to do. 🙂

      Thanks for your insights, Rob.

  • Reply Tara @ Streets Ahead Living August 13, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Well written story. I’m glad you ended up being successful with a new job in the end!

  • Reply Jordann @ My Alternate Life August 13, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Well done writing about this. If it had been me, I would’ve just wanted to sweep it under the rug, and never talk about it again. Also, it’s not nearly as depressing, since we know that you DID end up finding an awesome job.

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 1:06 am

      True, this journal was a lot more depressing those first few weeks after the layoff with an unknown future ahead of me. But it’s been therapeutic in a way to be more open about it.

  • Reply Roo // NEON FRESH August 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Really, really good. Thanks for sharing, and I’m so glad everything worked out for the best! Hope you and Joanna and Cute Baby are settling in nicely.

  • Reply Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life August 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Great article! It really is great that at the end of the day (you know what I mean) it all worked out for the best.

  • Reply Amy @ Paint Wine Repeat August 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I’m sure that post was hard to write, but thank you for being so brutally honest! Your lines about not being validated for so long really rang true to me and I realize that may be why I’m stalled in my own search. Thanks for perking up my job search efforts!!

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 1:09 am

      Glad it helped, Amy! Wish you the best with your job search and landing the perfect gig.

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