Laid Off Part 1: The Shock

At some point in your career, you may find yourself in a bad position.  You work hard, you put in the extra hours, and you go above and beyond what you’ve been asked to do.  You sacrifice your personal life, your health, and your sanity to go the extra mile.  Then, you get called into an office, maybe that of your boss or a manager higher up.  They ask you to sit down, and within ten seconds they tell you that you don’t have a job anymore.  No words of comfort, no reflection on your performance, just “cost-cutting measures”.  You were the last person to join the project, and the easiest to get rid of.  There’s a disembodied voice of HR on the phone asking if you have any questions, as if it’s something you would be prepared to answer.  You try to hold back your tears out of pride, but it doesn’t work.  This is a company you expected to be with until the end of your career, and now it’s gone.

I found myself in that place recently, and until you go through the process you can’t really describe it to someone.  You have to face the fact that you may be a stellar performer, that you may have just recently worked on the largest single deal that the company has ever done, but that it doesn’t matter to them.  You are a solely a cost to be looked at, and the number they appear to save is the only thing that matters right now.  The shame starts to affect you, that there was something within your control that you could have done to prevent it.  They tell you there was nothing you could do, but then there’s that nagging desire, a misguided belief, that you have control over your own destiny and not the whims of someone who may never even know who you are.

You question how to tell the ones you love that you are no longer able to provide an income for yourself and anyone who depends upon you.  It’s a blow to the ego: if you have a healthy one, it takes you down a few pegs.  If you don’t, it’s debilitating.  Your self-worth may be established by what you do; maybe you make the world a better place, maybe you do something menial but you do the absolute best you can and you’re proud of it.  Who you are as a person has not only been discarded, but done with a detached malice that only corporations and sociopaths can accomplish.

This is my story.  I write it for myself, for anyone who ever goes through it, and for the loved ones by them.  You’re not alone, there are others going through it.  I can offer advice, perspective, and kind words along the way, but they are my own.  Do what’s best for you, and may you find happier times.

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