I've always thought that hard work, contribution, visibility and respect would earn you protection. Protection from what, you say? Job security. Wow, was I wrong.
I didn't survive my company's last round of layoffs. It came as a total surprise (in fact, I seriously felt blindsighted), but I really wasn't prepared for what came next.
Post Lay-Off Depression
From hurt to bitterness to resolve to despondency to stress to ego-reduction to acceptance. This gamut of emotions that I had not experience in the decade of my entire career I felt within the first month after the lay-off.
The economy wasn't good. And the worst wasn't over. A new friend was hit each week. It was difficult to find strength during this time, to be a good friend, especially when I was trying to find the strength to rebuild my own confidence and life plan.
A Little Help from your Friends
I read somewhere that the worst thing you can do during a lay-off is not to notify your friends or family. I could not agree more. Feelings of embarrassment should not override the benefit of solace you seek from those you trust most - you need all the emotional support you can get.
Observations During the Emotional Rollercoaster
1. True friends pick up the phone, send an email, or take me out. I'm spoiled by all this royal treatment. :)
2. It's now completely clear who my mediocre friends are, my good friends are, and who my great friends are
3. It is possible to waste an entire day doing nothing!
4. Nothing is a relative term - what you may think is nothing may actually be character building. :)
5. I listen better and have more patience and am overall a nicer person
6. You can save upwards of $20 a week on groceries if you just peek at the Tuesday store ads and be picky about where you go buy the food you want
7. There are A LOT of work at home moms
8. There are a lot of cross ethnicity teenage relationships in our neighborhood
9. Retail is hurting, but not at the bargain stores I love (Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Nordie Rack)
10. Free Wi-Fi at all Peet's coffees
11. Free food wherever you look
12. Philly is freezing in the winter
13. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities to suit your interests
14. Enjoy life now
15. Time with friends and family is the essence of life
16. I have the best husband in the whole wide world
The French have some things figured out
I felt guilty about taking a huge vacation when everyday was a vacation for me at this point. But I figured that if we didn't do it now the opportunity would pass us by. Our destinations: Paris, Madrid and Florence.
Stereotypes of Parisians that were shared and assumed before our trip include: arrogant, smelly, smoke-a-holics, thin, trendy, refined, romantic. The first two aren't true. The remaining 5 are. It's amazing how a city can have such a sense of uniformity in character. Of course you must show them respect to receive respect. You can't expect everyone in every city that you visit to speak English. In addition to re-affirming some stereotypes, I noticed these few things:
1. The French are polite. As long as you say Bonjour or Bonsoir Madame, Monsieur you will be their guest. We could learn a thing or two from them about being gracious.
2. Nothing compares to French wine. Enough said.
3. Paris is the cleanest metropolis I've ever been to. I'm not sure how they regulate the streets, but I don't remember seeing one bit of grafitti or trash anywhere.
4. The French value, above all else, time and relationships with those they love and respect. Witness 2 hour lunches and 4 hour dinners. Enlightening conversation or sitting in front of the tube all night, which one builds character?
I've always been a control freak, in all aspects of my life - from relationships to my career. For the most part it is to my demise. I believe everything happens for a reason and that this transition period is supposed to teach me something. Force me to re-evaluate priorities, my relationships, and myself. It's not all about me. Slow down and remember what we live each day for. Experiences, sharing experiences, growing, loving, BREATHING.
And so it goes. I'm now learning to breathe.
4 months ago