Earlier this week I was laid off. To answer the 3 questions everyone has an inevitably asked me the past 36 hours, no, I did not see it coming, (I was about as shocked & unprepared for the news as I would be if someone had told me I was pregnant) no, I am not freaking out just yet and no, I have no fucking clue what I’m going to do now. The good news is, seeing as how most of my professional career has been campaigns and just like all
really bad relationships , they too come to an end, I’m more apt to handle my funemployment** than most. You go through 5 stages of being unemployed by no fault of your own and they are the following.
Stage 1: ENJOYMENT & GRATITUDE
Most likely to be heard saying: “Thank God, now I can live like a normal person again and finally get to “insert normal human thing here” ( i.e. go see a movie, finally put together that ikea furniture in my house, see my friends & family, etc…)
The first stage is the best because you still have your last paycheck and all your bills are paid for through the next 4 weeks. You form a renewed relationship with your bed, your house, the afternoon sun, hell, even your life. You discover that, there is indeed enough hours in the day to do nothing unlike your previous assumption that there were not enough hours in a day, days in a week, months in year to do everything you use to have to get done. Everyone is nice to you because they feel sorry for you and the most common thing they say is “you should really take some time to just think about your next move.” You’re right anonymous person that is still fully employed, I think I will do whatever I want because I am not yet in the stage of freaking out. Thank you for your semi-helpful, unsolicited advice, now stop talking to me so I can take a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day.
Usually last: 2-7 days
Stage 2: SHOCK & ANGER
Most likely to be heard saying: “This is bullshit!”
The second stage is not so fun, because you were use to anywhere between a 45- 80 hour work week (and lets be honest, on campaigns it’s definitely 80) and you were just so grateful to be returning to normal human waking hours that you didn’t even realize YOU’RE FUCKING OUT OF A JOB! WTF! In campaigns this stage consist of two possible roads; the first is if you lost your race and you’re angry at the voters/candidate/city/ government in general because you are now back to square 1 professionally. The second road is if you won and you’re angry that no one has yet to approach you about the cushy job in the new Congressman/Governors/Mayors office that they drunkenly promised you that night at the election party because “you’re fucking awesome and we won this thing!!! Whooooooo!” In all other laid off situations however this is where you get mad at the company/economy/consumers for making this dreaded predicament a reality for you while they’re still sipping they’re Starbucks without a care in the world. It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair!
Usually last: 24- 48 hours but lingers foreverrrrrrr
Stage 3: RESOLVE
Most likely to be heard saying: “All I need to do is spruce up my resume and send it out, I’m a good worker this will all work out.”
You’re a go getter, I mean for Godsakes someone employed you at some point otherwise how would you have gotten here in the first place. You decide you can edit your resume with some new job responsibilities that were most definitely NOT in your job description but you did them anyway, and spend most of the day trying to come up with different, ways to say “great under immense pressure, stress and no sleep for fucking lunatics who never cared that I basically slaved away for them for months” (see lingering anger/shock stage from above) but you come up with nothing and just end up putting “superior problem solver” instead. You apply for a few things and spend the rest of the day just hanging out and binge watching House of Cards for the 3rd time in a row. Someone will call you for an interview you just know it!
Usually last: 7- 10 days
Stage 4: DEPRESSION & PANIC
Most likely to be heard saying: ” Fuck!”
All those calls you were hoping to receive, yeah well you only had two, one for a job that paid substantially less than what you were making before and sounded either boring or exactly like what you did before just for less money, and the other for your dream job that you know you’d be perfect for… and so will those other 43,767 Suma Cum Laude Master degree holders who aren’t UNEMPLOYED! Those interviews are nice, but you never hear from either of them again and this makes you so upset that you end crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while you sob that you will never find another job you love as much ever again!You realize how unqualified you are do anything and you wonder why you even chose a career path that was so unstable to begin with. Why not nursing, there’s always jobs for nurses and accounts, you could just go back to school and get a degree in that, right? Oh wait, no, you don’t have a job, how are you going to pay your rent, insurance, car payment, cell phone bill, and existing student loans let alone new ones if you go back to school? Plus, school, again, I’d rather just be homeless. You’re fucked, and broke, and have watched every episode of House Hunters you think they’ve ever created. You can’t even fathom how anyone could be a stay at home wife or husband (sans the kids obviously) because you’re so bored that you’d honestly rather take you’re old shitty job back except you can’t, because it no longer exist.
Usually last: 1 – 2 weeks
Stage 5: ACCEPTANCE?
Most Likely to be heard saying: “Well I can’t LIVE like this forever, right?”
I have to be honest I’ve never really gotten to this stage. I usually just fall from depression into something finally falling on my lap, call it faith or divine order or whatever but my acceptance is usually a new job. Of course, somewhere between this stage and the depression was bargaining and planning, you could always just move back home right (depending on your set-up this might push you to send out 16 more resumes in 1 day resulting in you finally getting a job)? You realize that life is filled with the minor up’s and downs of adulthood and this is just part of it. If you’re lucky, you will have gone through these stage with loved ones who would spontaneously stop by your house with booze and movies and would occasionally get you out of your bathrobe while pouring large amounts of support and encouragement onto you so that you can indeed, wake up again tomorrow and look for more work. Hopefully your self esteem has picked up and you remember that you are an asset to any company/campaign that will have you and it’s the other ones loss because you’re amazing ( I mean honestly who else works that hard for that little unless you’re either very committed or a psychopath). Eventually you will be unemployed again and you vow to save money for when that day comes, but then you don’t because you’re in your fucking twenties and thats not even close to a reality.
Usually last: You know…till whenever.
1. A time in one’s life when one is not employed through no fault of their own and and may not be looking for a job right away.