OK – to start this blog post off, I need to let you in to why I’ve been so quiet for, like, two months. It’s because I was trying to find a new job. Now I know, you might be reading this thinking “I thought this *was* your job” but no, I’m one of those rare-not-so-rare influencers who does all of this whilst holding down a 9-to-5. Yep, that’s right. I run my own corner of the internet, write freelance for publications, have an accessories business AND work. I don’t know how I have time to do anything else (and neither does my anxiety!) either but here we are!
Through no fault of my own, I lost my job. I had to just get my head down and sort myself out. And, for the first time in my 31 years on this planet (can I pretend to *not* be 31 for a moment please?!) since being old enough to work, I became unemployed. But, thanks to some pre-planning and a healthy dose of time to work my head out, I started my new job last week. Winner, right?!
Having all of this weird stress around my head for the past month or so has made for a life experience that I wanted to share with you. Call me weird for wanting to relive this through the medium of a long form blog post but if reliving this means that I help one of you to cope too, then my job here is done (pardon the pun). So strap in for some hard truths, emotional twists and turns and a dose of gallows humour whilst we tackle…
The 7 stages of job loss
No matter how you come to lose your job, there’s an adjustment period in the immediate aftermath that feels a lot like mourning. I guess it actually is mourning. Your job is a giant portion of your life. You spend 37 hours a week at it (on average) and when that is all of a sudden taken from you, you have to deal with the loss of a regular, structured routine. So, we’re going to break down the mourning period slice by slice until we get to the pie at the end – a new job pie. Buttery, stable base, gooey money filling (no, I haven’t been watching too much Bake Off).
The initial shock of losing your job is the worst. First of all, if you’re reading this and this has just happened to you, I’m sorry. The situation sucks. But, you – you do not suck. You are brilliant and wonderful and clever and you’re about to embark on a new and exciting thing. Yes, I know it feels like the exact opposite right now and oh my god do I know how annoying it is to hear people go “don’t worry, it’ll all work out” when everything has just collapsed around you – but these people, they have a point!
It’s totally natural to feel shocked, even if it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Like I mentioned above, your job is a big part of your life and when that gets ripped away from you like a plaster that wasn’t quite ready to be removed, the red, raw shock is difficult. It hurts. It’s jarring. And thankfully, it’s temporary. Surround yourself with good people who will remind you of that. You need the “don’t worry…” people around you to shake you out of this shock. It’s the “don’t worry…” people that will help you find new jobs, listen to you when you’re sad and take you for cocktails during a Thursday afternoon (thank you Shireeka!).
Once you get over that initial shock and your pals have helped you to calm down, you might start to deny that it’s even happened, or, if you’re like me and you’re going through a redundancy situation, you get the denial part before you’ve actually lost your job. I didn’t want to deal with what was inevitable, so I almost convinced myself for a while that it wasn’t happening.
Trust me on this one – try and get out of that as soon as you can. I know it’s very tempting to just chuck it all in the fuck it bucket and spend the last of your savings on a gigantic ASOS haul because if you’re going to be broke you may as well look good (not speaking from experience there at all, ahem). But, you’re not doing yourself any favours with pretending it’s not happening. Facing the issue head on is the only way to move forward.
Making a list of outgoings and when they are going out is a great way of pulling yourself into the here and now. Doing that is like a sobering slap round the face, especially if you tend to look to the bright side of things like me. It’ll give you a sense of an immediate need to fix things because, if you don’t, things might just get a whole lot shitter. Which catapults you into the next stage of dealing with loss…
When you’re finally facing what feels like the world’s shittest scenario face on, you’ll get the anger. Oh man, the anger! Angry at your boss for letting you go. Angry at yourself for somehow not doing a better job to prevent this from happening. Angry that there only appears to be one job like the one you just left, so you try and wiggle your way into anything that sounds remotely like the thing you’re good at. My friend, feel this anger. Feel it, yell into the wind, listen to Bring Me The Horizon on full volume at 1pm in the afternoon on a Tuesday in nothing but your underpants and a slightly sweaty, angry expression.
The trick is, you feel it, and then you LET IT THE FUCK GO. If you get stuck in this stage, when you finally come to finding a new job and they ask you about what happened with your old job, you’ll end up flicking straight back into angry mode and that is seriously not an employable trait in a human. Take the time to feel angry, but remember that it’s a temporary feeling for a temporary situation. This thinking can also be applied to all sorts of reasons for anger – the patriarchy, fat shaming, your favourite pizza place shutting down… it’s an advice for all situations!
When you’re finding your way out of the angry red mist, you might find yourself bargaining with the situation. For me, this took shape in the form of wondering whether I even had to go back to work or not. Maybe I could just keep on freelancing and hopefully cover my outgoings? Maybe Emma makes enough money to keep me? Maybe I could just sell all of my belongings and use the money to travel? All of those situations seemed really viable at the time but when I took the time to really examine my situation, they weren’t. I’m the kind of anxious mess of a human that needs a steady income coming in, and although I could have just done the full time freelance thing, my mental state was too fragile to make that kind of a leap.
The key here is to be realistic with yourself. Revisit that list of outgoings. Figure out what the bare minimum is for you to be able to live a comfortable life – both financially and mentally. If your happiness comes in the form of freedom and you can support yourself, fly free my fine feathered friend! If it comes in the form of stability and routine, get your ass on that job hunting website now and make a change. There is no wrong way to do this, but there is a right one for you and you only. You just have to find it!
So you’ve looked at your options, you have a plan in place and maybe you’ve even started to put it into action when suddenly, the gravity of the situation hits you like a tonne of wet, sad fish. Shit. All that work that you put in during stages 1 to 4 have all of a sudden left you and instead, in it’s place is a whole heap of sadness. You’ve finally succumbed to the past few days/weeks/months of shit that has happened to you. I’m sorry my pal. Look, there’s no easy route out of this so I’m going to just say – it sucks that you’re in this situation. You’re doing so well and you aren’t failing I promise.
Feel rubbish for a while but remember that its a temporary feeling for a temporary situation. Yes, I know I’ve said that before a little further up but stick with me here. It’s really important to not beat yourself up for feeling shit. That’s how you perpetuate the shitty-ness. It’s equally important though, to not let it consume you. It doesn’t matter how you do this – whether it’s repeating positive mantras (“it’s just a bad day, not a bad life” works well for me) or asking a doctor for help – whatever you need to do to feel better is the right thing to do. And it’s a great way to move on to the next stage…
This is all about finding realistic solutions. For me, this was applying for all different kinds of jobs and figuring out which ones I wanted the most. Or, more specifically, what aspects of each job I wanted the most. There is an urgency with finding a job, but you also need to make sure the job you do get is right for you. My job role lust list consisted of being around the same wage I was paid before, working for a startup (really important for me, I loved working in that environment), close to my home and vaguely still in the fashion world. Write yourself a list of things that your new job has to tick off for you too – it really does help to give you the perspective of the way out of this situation needing to serve you.
Another aspect of testing that you’ll need to get a grip of is what the hell to write on your CV. I ended up making, like, 3 CVs as I kept applying for jobs. One for my creative side, one for my management side and one for my customer focused side. I learned the art of cutting down my CV to essential information and designing it so it stood out from the crowd (it actually matches my website!). Oh, that’s a good point actually – if you have an online presence, make sure it’s something that you’re OK with being seen by a potential employer. If it’s not, lock it down. Check your security settings, lock down your Twitter and Instagram, knock your website offline for a bit. Or, if like me you think an employer needs to want you warts and all, just leave it all open! That is a risky strategy, especially if you have any weird interests or hobbies that you think an employer wouldn’t like (like being a fat girl in her underwear on the internet for example….ahem).
Once you’ve found your niche, your CV is bangin’, your social media is where you want it to be and you’re applying for jobs – you’re at the acceptance stage. You’ve accepted the loss of your job, you’re moving on to a real conclusion and you’ve even grown a bit in the process. Yay for you! Take your new found confidence and run out into the world and get paid handsomely for it!
Remember to check in with yourself often though – you can sometimes think you’ve reached this stage and then BAM helloooo depression. Don’t operate on auto pilot for too long either – I did this and it really messed with my mental state. Thankfully the end of this tale for me is that I have a brand new job (yay!) that I started after a week off which meant I had some time off to heal after being on auto pilot (double yay!). It also meant I could write this blog post for you. I love finally having the brain space to write, it makes me very happy!
So if you’ve gotten this far down, well done. This was a bloody long one, eh? You might now be ready to start on this journey and if so, I’m right there with you sister. You might have read all of this and actually come the conclusion that you don’t want to do all of this and instead you just want to chill out for a bit/forever. Whatever you choose to do, you HAVE to do what’s right for you. Listen to where your head is at.
You got this Travis, make em wait for it…