A week ago, I was laid off. No advanced warning, no idea at all that it was coming. After working as a paralegal with my law firm for 11 years, I was out the door for good in 10 minutes.
Seventeen years ago (HOW has it been that long?!), I graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Having no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I started temping and found myself at a Hartford intellectual property law firm as a legal secretary. Three months later, they offered me a full time position which I eagerly accepted. I enjoyed the work and was really good at it.
Fast forward six years to the managing partner of that firm, to whom I had grown very close, asking me if I would take a leap of faith and join him as he started a new firm. Again, I eagerly accepted. It could have been career suicide as a small group of us stood up one day and, in true “Jerry Maguire” fashion, followed our boss out the door. Instead, it was one of my best decisions. And so there I remained for 11 years, through many challenges, including the sudden death of that managing partner – my boss, my mentor, my friend. I stuck by the firm and did the absolute best I could there – until a week ago when I was told that they were struggling financially and I had to go.
I thought I would impart some of the “wisdom” I’ve gained in the past week. It’s been a huge roller coaster of emotions for me, and I’m still a bit in shock that this is my new reality and not some long awaited staycation.
- I LOVE the extra time with my kids. Being able to see their little faces as they walk out of school, and spending those extra two hours with them, has been huge for me. They can always put a smile on my face. When Mollie, age 7, was told I had been laid off, she exclaimed, “You were FIRED?!! Where are you going to work now?! McDonalds?!” (I don’t know, are they hiring?)
- Job hunting sucks. Hours and hours spent online to come up with maybe one or two plausible options. At least I’m getting some good laughs along the way with ads seeking “professional cuddlers” and “female dancers – curvy but not thick”.
- Time FLIES while the kids are in school. See above. It’s that whole job hunting thing. I had these grand plans for all the cleaning/organizing/cooking/baking I would be doing. Not. Happening.
- Once again, my family and friends have proven that they are awesome. The support I’ve received over the past week has kept me from falling into a black hole. Cards, texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages of support and possible job leads have been so needed and much appreciated.
- Speaking of a black hole, I can already feel myself teetering on the edge. Being laid off so unexpectedly was devastating. I don’t understand how people can be unemployed and job hunting for months on end. I’m drained after a week.
I’m truly trying to make the best of this extra time with my family, but it’s HARD. These are emotions I’ve never felt before. For 17 years, I’ve had two employers who have given me nothing but positive feedback and told me repeatedly what a valuable asset I am. To be discarded so suddenly is something that will take quite a while to get over.
So now what? I’ll enjoy this extra time with my kids, will wear activewear all day, and will continue the job hunt. I’ll be doing my best to stay positive and motivated. And I may also be brushing up on my cuddling and dancing skills, just in case.