Losing Your Job Feels Like the Worst Case Scenario, but Could it be the Best?

The job market is an undeniably difficult place to navigate. It takes a lot of effort and planning to find a job that you think may last (or that will at least pay the bills), and once you've found that job, you typically don't anticipate it ending on anyone's terms other than your own. But sometimes life doesn't work out quite how you planned, and you might end up unemployed.

Whether you were working a fast food or retail job that made you want to rip your hair out or spending your days at your dream job, losing it is often unexpected, and can knock your confidence down several pegs. I lost my job a couple of months ago, and I've found that it's important to give yourself time to process and grieve what you've lost. No matter how you felt about the job, these unexpected and abrupt changes cause uncertainty, and you have to process it. 

I think most people would agree that losing your job is one of the worst things that can happen. Not only do you lose the thing that keeps you busy in your day-to-day life, but you also lose your primary source of income that pays your bills and puts food on your table. Losing your job can really knock you off your feet, but it can also turn out to be the best thing for you. It takes some time to come to that realization, though, so how can you deal with it in the meantime and start living your life again?

Give yourself time to breathe and accept it

black girl magic photo Photo by Leighann Blackwood from Unsplash Some people get fired, laid off or even quit, and are able to just jump back into their lives like nothing happened. If you're one of those people, great! If not, that's okay too. I'm personally not one of those people, but I am a little jealous of those who are. I also don't know that I know many people who are able to just immediately jump back in unless they absolutely have to.

Regardless of which person you are, processing what happened is important. Elliot Cha, a Partner at Pair Shaped Official, says that the emotional impact of losing a job can be similar to experiencing loss and trauma. 

"The individual usually progresses through the archetypal five stages usually associated with grief," Elliot, who's experienced unemployment and spent time writing about it, says. "[T]here is the initial shock and denial; the anger; the bargaining; the depression, and finally acceptance."  He adds that in those beginning stages it's private for most people. Being fired or laid off is this secret part of your life that only the people closest to you know about. It's important to take time to get through the shock and denial so that you're able to move on from that part of your life.

When you lose your job, it's hard to not take it personally and wonder if you're good enough to even get another one. You'll ask yourself a lot of 'what if' questions, mostly centered around things you could have done differently while you were employed. You definitely aren't alone in that.

"I felt oddly rejected," says Neha Sharma of Nisba Creative. "[L]ike I had failed in some way. My head told me that the company had only taken the decision on the basis of costs, but [it felt so personal]... The first few days [after] the layoff I was just numb. I felt directionless." Neha was working for one of India's most well-known travel companies at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was laid off as a result of the travel industry being hit. She didn't know what life looked like for her when she got laid off and, as most of us would, took it personally at first.

You may not believe it, but life does get better after the initial jolt of being let go.

"I am now in a much better place," Neha says. "Nothing helps like being able to just vent. When it felt too overwhelming, I cried." She intentionally spent time during the day doing something she felt was useful. "[I]t was a few weeks of cooking, crafts, chats with friends, funny movies [and] whatever I felt like. I gave myself time." 

As with pretty much everything else: time heals. You may never fully get over the sting or bitterness of being let go from a job, but you'll get used to it. And, as you get used to it, you have to turn the bitterness and hurt into your own personal motivation.

Look for new opportunities, or create your own

Unsplash Once you're able to turn your negative emotions into motivation to find a new job and keep your life moving, it's time to start the job hunt again. For some, that has to start immediately. It's an unfortunate reality for most that if you aren't working, you won't have a roof over your head or food to eat. If this is your reality, remember to take time to do some things for yourself even in the midst of finding a job that pays your bills. 

If you're able to take the time to search for what you truly want to do, do it. If losing your job means moving back home with your family while you get your life back together and find your passion, that's okay. In fact, I would recommend being around people who support you, rather than being alone. Being surrounded by people who care about and believe in you makes it that much easier to figure out what you want to be doing. 

Maybe this time made you realize that you don't want to have a job in the same industry that your previous one was in. If that's the case, you may be thinking about exploring nontraditional job options. Thanks to technology, there are so many different opportunities for work. You can start a blog, start an Etsy shop or e ven start writing a novel. But keep in mind that these things aren't always easy to do or keep going, and it's easy to get burnt out. If you choose to venture into the world of opening your own business, remember that it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and all the passion you have. If you're truly committed, though, you may just find your calling.

"I might not even go back to a regular job," says Neha, who, since being laid off, started a consultancy business called Nisaba Creative. "I help small businesses with their product and content strategy. It's early days, but I have a couple of clients and it feels really great."

Whether you're looking for new opportunities, or starting to create your own, you'll need to take time to update your Linkedin profile and resume. Brag about the things you did at your previous job and talk yourself up. It's a productive use of time, and it might just make you feel better. You're valuable, and so are all of the skills you have now! 

No matter what job market you're going into, networking is super important. Networks help you find jobs and clients, and to get word out about all the awesome stuff you can do, so try to actively use your Linkedin account to network. 

Don't give up, even when it seems impossible

girl stressed at computer energepic.com In difficult times, giving up can seem like the easiest – and for some, the only – option. When you've lost your job and are in a weird period of grieving that job, you may find it hard to see a future past what you've just lost. Between losing my full-time job and this seemingly never-ending pandemic, I've even found it hard to see a path in front of me. However, I know that there is one and there's one for you, too.

It's important to remember that you aren't alone in this struggle and that your life isn't over just because a job is. Even if you spend the next six months, or more, unemployed, you aren't a failure and you still have so much purpose. In fact, a lot of people would even tell you that losing your job is a blessing in disguise.

"Losing your job is often the best thing that can happen to you," Ruggero Loda, Founder of Running Shoes Guru, says. "It never feels that way at first, but in hindsight, it's usually obvious." Rugerro adds that when you lose your job, it can be a sign that your talents are meant for something better. The challenge, though, is finding that something better.

Through that challenge, it's vital that you find ways to stay positive and keep yourself busy. Keep yourself centered in whatever (healthy) way you can. Watch a ton of bad movies. Read all those books on your shelves. Start a journal so you can doodle and write away your feelings everyday. And, to really try to keep yourself positive, write down affirmations and then read them out loud while looking in a mirror. 

Keeping yourself centered can, and should, also include doing things that are going to be beneficial for you. Through all your jobs, schooling and hobbies, you've learned awesome skills that can put you two steps ahead in your job search without trying.

"[Take] action. Create content, develop new skills, find ways to make yourself  visible online," Rugerro says. "[Y]ou'll either find people who want to hire you, or consumers interested in paying for what you do." 

Now, the goal doesn't have to be to get hired from it, but everyone is capable of creating content. Take that obsession you have with your favorite movie, television show, book or musician and use it to your advantage. Create art around it and develop skills in Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator (or a pen and paper). Start a blog where you talk about your favorite shows, movies and the characters in them. The possibilities are endless, and the most helpful piece of advice I can give you is to remember that. Remember those possibilities. 

No matter where you are in your journey, it's important to remember that you aren't alone, and this isn't forever. Use your time unemployed to do things you enjoy, and put yourself back in the right mindset. And, if you have to jump right back into job hunting, use the network you've built. Someone around you has probably also been through losing their job and can offer support, advice and help keep you going.

There are a multitude of jobs in this world that you have the passion, creativity and skills to do. Just because you've lost one job doesn't mean you've lost them all. Take a breath, take some time and get back out there to find your next thing. 

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