Matt’s Journey: One of the Hardest Days of Your Life
Updated: Feb 4
I love my job and the opportunity it gives me to work with individuals from corporations to small start-ups to entrepreneurs to individuals trying to figure out what they want to do with their life. One area that is not so fun is when people get fired. So in the next few blogs, I want to share the experience of one of my clients as he navigates losing his job and finding a new one. In this blog, Matt shares in his own words how he lost his job and his immediate reactions.
My name is Matt. (Maybe it’s my real name and maybe it isn’t!) I am unemployed. There you go. I thought that I would start things out simple so I made it as basic as I could. As I think about it I feel like it is an AA meeting and we should start a group and give out tokens or medallions celebrating unemployment time. I would have just gotten my 3-month medal for not having a job.
Unemployment is a strange thing depending on how you look at it. It is extremely nice to hit the gym at noon. I should probably phrase it as “It is nice to think about hitting the gym every day at noon.” The point being -- there are perks to being unemployed dependent upon your level of optimism. The downside is that there is a powerful foundation of pessimism. No matter how optimistic you are about your freedom, there is always a small voice in there reminding you that you have failed and that the consequences of that failure may involve losing your house, your car, the way that you used to live, and possibly having to sleep in a railroad car. (Don’t tell me that you have never wanted to run alongside a train and jump into it like in the movies. That is number 43 on my bucket list. It is just that I don’t want to sleep in one). That small voice is evil. It is a constant reminder of how things could have been different -- whether the cause was bad decisions, horrible circumstances, or life giving you a swift kick. That pessimistic foundation is built on two strong pillars: “What happened?” and “What am I going to do?”
Dr. Bray has generously, in a very Stalin-esque manner, limited me to one page so let me tackle the first pillar. What happened? On December 1, 2014, a nice Monday morning, I was scheduled to have a conference call with my new boss. I wasn’t a huge fan of her and I was dreading it a bit. She had a knack of reminding me to do things that I had already completed as well as being a manipulation sorceress with a skill of saying the right things to the right people without ever accomplishing anything. I had only been at the company for a few months as they had approached me to join the organization with promises of more money and a better work environment. So I jumped ship and felt like I had made a great move since I made more money and had better working conditions, but as my new boss and I were still figuring out our work relationship I was still nervous about the meeting.
The company used Skype as their main form of communication since many of us worked remotely. So at five minutes to ten, I pulled up my Skype screen. Quickly thereafter I saw my boss’s picture pop onto the monitor as the ringing tone commenced. I hit the button and said hello. As she began speaking, I saw the HR manager’s picture saddle up next to my boss’s pic. I can’t explain the fear that began surging through me. I have never been let go. I could barely siphon and separate my emotions. As I brought myself back to reality enough to begin listening, I realized that my boss was explaining to me that due to a horrible year of sales, the parent company was putting pressure on them to let people go. Listening to her (obviously reading a prepared statement) I couldn’t help thinking: “I can’t believe this is happening. It is almost Christmas! Why did they just offer me a job and entice me to leave my past organization? What am I going to do? I barely quit my last job three months ago and you decide NOW that you are going to let me go?”
You always hear people in the movies state things like “My whole body went numb” or “I felt like I was watching the situation from outside my body.” That is how I felt. I had so many questions: “Could I have done something differently? Did I do something wrong?” I had only been there three months but I felt as though I had performed exceptionally. This confusion added pain to the situation. “Why me? What am I going to do?” The call ended abruptly. I was able to ask one question which I phrased as “Was it something I did or didn’t do?” I laughed to myself as I pictured them saying “It isn’t you, it’s me.” And that was that; I had been dumped, only being laid off feels a lot worse. This is where the foundation of pessimism sets in but surprisingly, I also experienced a high octane dose of optimism. I began reaching out to everyone I knew and was very confident that I would be back in the game “in no time.” Three months later I am still waking up and having my coffee mixed with a little existential dilemma thrown in with a side of optimism. The whole time I drink it, I can hear that small voice reminding and nagging me that my savings are running out. It is a scary time. I am hoping it changes quickly before I have to make some serious changes such as where I live, how I pay for my car, and what my future may look like in the next year.
Don't miss the other parts of Matt's Journey: