Hello From the Other Side (and More Songs from the Unemployment Line) - Part I

"You're fired!" Okay, they called it a lay off but I'm pretty sure the two are synonymous. Whether it's a restructuring, reorganization, layoff or pink slip, it all feels the same and the message is clear: your services are no longer needed, here.

About a year ago, I was laid off from a big company with an impressive name. I was DEVASTATED. My layoff felt like a bad breakup - the end of a relationship that the both of us knew had been long over; but, for no intelligent reason, we held on...for dear life. It was my comfort zone and, as Gladys Knight and the Pips sang, "Neither one of us [wanted] to be the first to say goodbye." Then, it happened. It ended. Officially. Except, I wasn't ready. It was long overdue but, like Frank Sinatra or Usher, I wanted it MY WAY.

By the time it happened, I had been feeling marginalized. I had much greater potential and so much more to offer but I became frustrated constantly trying to prove that. As God would have it, when I am not living up to my potential, failing to fully use my gifts and talents, and neglecting my passion, I am conflicted. And, internal conflict most assuredly will present itself externally. So, to be fair and completely candid, I wanted a change. I needed a change. And, I sorta expected that a change was coming; but, after 10 years together, I wanted to end things on my terms. Uh uh...ain't happ'nin', Cap'in!

Hello from the other side...

During my hiatus and in subsequent months, I learned a lot about job searching and myself. In no particular order, here are two of my top 5 lessons from the unemployment line using song titles and lyrics. (Of course, like Puffy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs, I had to remix a few to make 'em work.)

1. Don't Take It Personal: You're probably thinking of Monica when she said, "It's just one of them days." And, sure, when you get laid off, it is one of them days that you want to be all alone. But, I'm actually thinking more about Jermaine Jackson (pre-immovable hair) when he sang, "Don't take it personal. Take the bitter with the sweet. Easy come. Easy go. Some good things come to an end." Mr. Jackson also wisely said, "Don't be sad. Don't be blue. You have your whole life ahead of you." And, you do. Even if you're nearing retirement, you still have the rest of your life to try something new. There's no time like the present and, hey, your schedule just opened up!

2. I Am Not My...Job: India.Arie is not her hair and I am not my job. But, it took me getting laid off to know it. For years, I thought I was clear on the separation. Yet, the day after being let go, I woke up in tears wondering what people might say. What would "they" think? From traveling to socializing, so much of who I was had become inextricably intertwined with what I did. Somehow, I thought my personal stock had plummeted because I no longer worked at...Fortunately, I found that most people were very empathetic and supportive. Many times I was told, "I've been there. How can I help?" Or, "You'll be okay. It happens. You'll find something better." A friend who was laid off from the same company a few years earlier said, "I questioned if I was good enough....like I'd lost my swag. 'They don't want me?' It was bad at first. Then, I began to enjoy it. I got to do things that I hadn't before and I spent time with my family. If I saw [my former boss] today, I'd thank him. It was the best thing that could've happened to me."

The truth: it was not really what others thought about me. It was what I thought about me and the value that I'd placed on myself because of where I was employed. My break helped me truly distinguish myself from my occupation.

***Read lessons three, four and five in Hello From the Other Side (and More Songs from the Unemployment Line) - Part II.***

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