I’m old enough to have seen our country go through drastic economic upheaval and downfalls one too many times, but I’m also young enough to appreciate Nikkie De Jager of nikkietutorials. And in this age of such uncertainty and turmoil, I wanted to talk about what’s worked for me.
Ever since college internships and being a working professional, every single environment I had been in, was enveloped by so many buyouts, mergers, acquisitions, and secret sessions of due diligence. Granted these were all in one industry, but many of my friends of different fields had similar experiences. Every. single. company. I’ve been at has been bought out, no longer exists, or changed management. (None of which I can share the details about, ever. I will take them to my grave.) But what I can share with you is how I dealt with it all.
In the beginning, it was really shocking to deal with, because since you were a child you’ve been led to believe that if you studied hard, applied yourself, and made good decisions, you’d go far and the universe would reward you. And then life happens and you’re blindsided. And even though it happens again a few years later, you’re still pretty shocked because you’re thinking, “Again?! Already?! Is there no such thing as stability?!”
For me, one of the hardest experiences I had to overcome was being at a company for a few years and it was the best job I ever had (at the time). My life was working on all cylinders. I had a boss I loved, great projects, great co-workers, a commute so short people couldn’t believe I just didn’t walk there (hello, stranger danger in LA, at night time, or early morning hours). I was also in a long term relationship and loved my boyfriend’s family. I was taking fun classes and learning new hobbies at night once or twice a week. I had time to volunteer and saw all my friends constantly. It was peak #goals, for everything.
And then, one day, there was a re-org. But it wasn’t even in my department, nor my boss. It was a lateral department and a lateral management person that were affected. In the fall out, an admin person had no one to report to. This admin person was at least twice my age, maybe more, and a few years away from retiring. And so I was out of a job, just like that.
That person stayed, reported to my boss, and I was out.
And when it happened, everyone around me was upset more than I was, including my boss. They couldn’t understand my reaction. It wasn’t that I wasn’t upset, but I also knew the decision had been made. The cards were dealt. This had probably been planned for weeks, if not months. So the only thing to do was to process and deal with it. That was my new job, for now.
It was really important to me to bounce back, not only for my sake, but for my colleagues who were so incensed on my behalf. Another executive had let me know they had a short-term contract for me in the new year, working with some of the same people. I really wanted it because it was during an economic bust when millions were out of work and I’d learn a lot of new stuff so it’d improve my resume. I also knew that I could only get the job if there were no hard feelings. So, I took some time and had to really process all of my feelings and thoughts about being laid off. And this was the conclusion I came to; this is what I told my colleagues who asked how I was doing.
I said, “I hope when I’m ______’s age and close to retirement, that whatever company I’m working for makes the same decision. I hope they would let me stay.”
I think one of the best ways to move forward is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You may not agree with them. You may not like what they did, or what happened. But what you will gain is a different perspective. People make decisions that are logical to them. Very rarely does life happen in a vacuum. It took me a long time to realize that most people operate to avoid pain and seek pleasure. We all act in our own self interest, partly because no one will care more about your life than you. This also means no one else can deal with the consequences of your life so you’re apt to make decisions that favor you.
When experiencing something painful, I’ve learned to lean into it, to embrace it, and to control my reactions, thoughts, and behaviors. Empower yourself. I know that if I don’t deal with it now, it will just come back to haunt me later, with more force. Is this fun? No. Are there days where it sometimes just absolutely sucks, for days on end? Yes. You might ask, what do I gain, then? Closure.
Process your pain and uneasiness in healthy ways. Find what works for you. Is it meditating, sports, exercising, reading, or cleaning? Do something every day that makes you happy, however small.
For anyone who is struggling, know that I am thinking of you. I am sending the warmest of hugs. I believe one day you will look back on this and your memories may still be bittersweet. But you will also be proud that you’ve come so far. That your journey wasn’t for nothing. And most of all, take comfort in knowing you met some really great people you wouldn’t have met otherwise - shared a lot of laughs, bonded when times were tough, and created a lot of once-in-a-lifetime memories. Cherish that. Choose to remember those moments.
As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address.
I also write over at Jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.