Finding the light after a layoff

 " ... find your spark. Find your passion. Find what makes you feel alive."

" ... find your spark. Find your passion. Find what makes you feel alive."

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. My first-grade teacher was the greatest teacher I ever had (Sorry to my other teachers if you're reading this. You're great, too). As a kid, I had a white board that I'd prop up in my bedroom to teach a classroom of invisible students. I memorized Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech for fun and redid my homework over and over for the heck of it. (Shoutout to my fellow nerds).

Then a little show called "Gilmore Girls" caught my attention and my mom and I were hooked. I loved the quick-witted, pop culture-infused episodes and marveled at Rory's passion for journalism. It was then that I realized I wanted to pursue the same path and leave teaching behind. 

I took a journalism class in high school and eventually studied it in college, immersing myself in all facets — print, public relations, broadcast. While I always saw myself as a reporter, a college class my junior year changed my perspective yet again. I fell in love with design and long story short, I landed a job as a page designer for a newspaper a few months out of college.

While my new city wasn't my cup of tea, I loved what I was doing ... at least in the beginning. I felt comfortable in a newsroom setting and my co-workers were great. But a few months in, I started to have second thoughts — about the move and about my job. It was incredibly frustrating. I just made this huge move, it was my first job out of college and I wasn't happy. I faked a smile for a while and tried to stick it out. I applied for other jobs on a whim, but nothing ever panned out. I wasn't extremely happy anymore, but it was a steady income and great experience.

The newspaper eventually sold and with the new owners came a few rounds of layoffs (hello, newspaper industry). I survived the first couple rounds my few years there, a feat I felt proud of as a newbie low on the totem pole. And then I got the dreaded phone call.

I cried, as anyone would. It felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I was mad and sad and to quote Sookie St. James, I was smad. Was I going to find another job? Was anyone going to hire me knowing I had been laid off? What if I had to do something outside of my field? Was I going to have to accept a position I didn't really want? Could I afford to be picky at this point?

 

 

I spent months applying for various jobs. I didn't feel qualified enough for the jobs I wanted and didn't want the jobs I was qualified for. I felt like I pigeon-holed myself in my last position. I had gotten so used to being my own boss working at my college paper. I missed working with my best friends and being in a town I was familiar with. I missed the passion I originally felt for journalism.

I'd sign onto social media and see friends thriving in their new careers, climbing the corporate ladder. I was happy to see them so fulfilled, yet I couldn't help but feel a sliver of jealousy. I'm not naive to the way social media portrays things, but the visuals still stung. I couldn't help but feel like I was watching their life progress from afar, all the while I was frozen in time. 

The amount of jobs I applied to reached an embarrassing number. I landed interviews, sure, but none them amounted to anything. You know when two castaways on "Survivor" have to race to build a fire? Ever since getting laid off, I felt like I kept trying to find some sort of spark — a little glimmer of hope, even if it was fleeting. SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

"C'MON YOU STUPID PIECE OF FLINT, IGNITE," I'd scream as I applied for each job.

OK, not really. But you get the idea.

I had long talks with my mom about what I really wanted to do and what I was passionate about.

Slowly but surely, I started to see that ember of hope and realize maybe getting laid off was a blessing. YOU HEAR THAT, PROBST?? I GOT A SPARK.

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I realized that I had already changed my career path before. Why should this be any different? Because I'm a little older and have more responsibilities? (which, by the way, responsibilities really suck and so does adulting but that's a whole 'nother post). Aren't your twenties supposed to be the time in your life to take risks? When am I ever going to have this opportunity again?

For a long time, I sat, I prayed and I got angry at God. Why couldn't He land me an interview at a top company? Why couldn't I find the perfect job? Maybe I was praying for the wrong thing. Instead of asking for what I wanted, maybe I should have been asking for what He wanted for me.

Growing up my mom always said *in a loving yet sarcastic tone*, "Nothing's perfect. The sooner you realize that, the easier your life will be."

I heard this phrase so much, I couldn't help but repeat it with an accompanying eye roll.

But, she's right. (DID YOU HEAR THAT MOM? I SAID YOU WERE RIGHT).

Nothing is perfect, no job is perfect and if I couldn't find the perfect job or it just didn't exist, why couldn't I create it? Write down all the things I loved, blend them all together and do that?

Guess what I realized? I CAN AND I COULD.

There's no doubting that getting laid off can be devastating, but it doesn't have to be. Sure, I might still cry if it ever happened again *knock on wood*, but that's OK. If I hadn't have been let go, I wouldn't have been forced to reevaluate my current circumstances and future aspirations.

I think so many of us spend too much time going through the motions in life, watching life pass us by and not really living. 

I wanted to get back to living.

Maybe you're sitting at your desk at work, knowing the 9-5 grind isn't for you. Maybe you're going through a lay off and are at a loss for what to do. Whatever the circumstance, find your spark. Find your passion. Find what makes you feel alive.