Surviving the Pink Slip
When did our jobs start to define our identity? Was is during childhood, playing games like Operation and practicing our doctor skills, or when we rolled the dice during Monopoly and tested our math knowledge as the banker, or when we owned our first Easy Bake Oven and were determined to create the finest desserts from a mini light bulb? Who knows when it started, but nevertheless we spend the majority of our lives striving to reach that golden dream, to know exactly what we were placed on this earth to accomplish.
As you grow from childhood to adulthood, your interests may have changed but the end goal is the same: to grow professionally and develop your skills. The career game doesn’t seem to have set rules, but you try to navigate as you go. You work hard, strive to create content, crunch the numbers, develop your network and burn the oil at both ends of the candle to make a name for yourself and to make a difference in world. You’re trying to do all the right things they tell you to be successful.
But what happens when climbing the ladder of career success suddenly comes to a halt? How do we respond when your 5 year plan is thrown a curve ball in the form of a pink slip and a cardboard box? No one tells you how to process the words you will never forget, “It’s not working out; we’re letting you go.” I will tell you from personal experience, nothing can top the feeling of failure like being let go without warning.
I relocated to another state for a job I thought has been placed on this earth just for me. I was going to be helping children in a children’s home, sharing their stories and encouraging them during this stage of uncertainty. I packed up all my belongings from my small hometown and drove 800 miles to sunny Florida.
However, after about 2 months, I was pulled into a meeting room with my supervisor and HR director. They told me, “We don’t think this position is working out and we are letting you go.”
I felt the floor fall out from under me. I sat there stunned as if hit by a truck. I drove to my new apartment and cried deeply and felt so incredibly flawed, inadequate and alone.
You are left shattered inside wondering how to survive and the future looks incredibly bleak and forlorn. Your brain is spinning with chaotic thoughts. What do you do next? Where will you go? Will you have to ask your parents for rent money?
Before you indulge in a downward spiral, take a breath. I want to remind you, there is nothing wrong with you; just because this happened to you does not mean you aren’t talented or capable.
Here are a few tips to as you go through this unexpected experience:
Cry in your bathroom. Eat lots of Chinese food. Write angry memos in your journal, binge watch Stranger Things, punch it out at kickboxing class, whatever you need to do to process this loss. You are allowed to feel what you need to in order to move forward.
Make a list of your contacts to reach out to, network with family, friends, colleagues. This takes incredible humility. Create a new resume template or develop an online portfolio. Volunteer your time in the community. Go to the library and perfect your skills or learn something new to make yourself more marketable.
I know your heart feels broken and your spirit is crushed. Resolve to not let this experience harden you. I promise this is not the end of your story. You deserve to work at a place where you feel valued. While this feels permanent, this is only temporary in your journey. Your gifts are needed and this situation will not define you.
Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.
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