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So last week I got the news that anyone with a job prays to never hear. The only news worse than the “I’m late” text. I was told by my company that I was being laid off. There had been mass layoffs going on all day and I was the most recent hire in my department. From the moment I saw people getting pulled into rooms, only to exit shortly after with an envelope and a frown, I knew it was only a matter of time before I got the call. I sat at my desk staring at my phone, heart pumping, palms sweating, and pants shitting. Then, like clockwork, I got the call into the room with the head of my department and an HR lady who only flies into the office for these special occasions. I got the “As you know the company is going through a reduction” speech, signed some papers stating that I won’t steal any pens and said my goodbyes.
As much as I would like to sit here and say that I told everyone to eat shit and die, that would be a lie. The truth is that I had pleasant goodbyes with everyone, and I even met up with all my old coworkers later in the evening for drinks. Unfortunately for me, I blacked out that night. As is tradition for a man in my situation, I went straight to bar after I was told I was being let go at around 2 p.m. I went heavy with the beer and whiskey and was about to send myself home around 7 when my now former coworker texted me to come meet the team at a bar near my old office.
In retrospect, I should have just sent myself home because I undoubtedly made an ass out of myself that night. I don’t remember what I said or did, but I know myself and how I act when I’ve had a few too many and am in a bad mood. But when I woke up the next morning, an unexpected feeling of relief washed over me when I realized that I didn’t have to answer to anyone about the night before. I didn’t have that post work happy hour anxiety that everyone has felt at some point. What should have been a personal lowest for me turned into the exact opposite.
In the midst of a top 3 worst hangovers of my life, I came to the realization that for the first time in about 5 years I report to nobody. I get to choose what I am doing everyday, and it’s only my fault if I don’t make the most of it. For the first time in my life, I’m my own boss and I answer to nobody. I don’t have meetings on my calendar or an email that is blowing up with requests that had to be sent over yesterday. I have the chance to take a step back and hit the reset button before I take the next step forward. Maybe now I can make a jump to a different path in my given field that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Fuck, I can change careers entirely if I want to. I used to toy with that idea from time to time, but now it’s a viable option.
On paper this is the biggest shitstorm of my life, but I truly believe it’s a blessing in disguise.
I consider myself lucky even though I’m in a less than ideal situation. For starters, I got severance. Not every company extends that courtesy and I’ve seen friends at other companies get really screwed over when they get dropped by their employer. Also, I’m only 25 years old, and I’m getting my first axing out of the way now. I hope this never happens again, but if it does it will sting a little less because I popped my cherry at a young age. I also am extremely lucky to have supportive friends and family around me who have already gone above and beyond to provide all the help that they can. And obviously I’m lucky enough that PGP allows me to share my thoughts with the internet, which in turn should assure that I won’t lose my collective shit from having to bottle everything up. But that remains to be seen I suppose.
Now it should go without saying that I don’t want to be unemployed forever. As much as I like my newfound sense of freedom, I also like having a steady paycheck and food to eat. I don’t subscribe to the theory of “Funemployment” because well, I’ve never had a trust fund. I have already started applying for jobs and told my roommates that they can only allow me to to be an alcoholic until July 5th. I very much want to get back on the work grind as soon as possible. While I’m happy that I have this opportunity to refresh, I don’t want that to be misinterpreted for complacency. And who knows, this feeling of liberation may only be temporary but that doesn’t mean I won’t make the most out of it while it lasts..
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