Friday, September 3, 2010

How I Became Unemployed

There were warning signs that my job was not guaranteed for a while before it happened:
  1. I was the only Editorial Assistant/Proofreader in a company of thousands with offices all over the world. If none of the other offices needed someone like me, it stood to reason I was expendable.
  2. My department wasn't performing to the company standard (though there were so many reasons for this that had nothing to do with the staff, I could write another post on this subject alone).
  3. Quite a few people had been seen leaving the building with boxes over the last several months.
  4. There was rumor that nearly every department's budget would be cut by 20% by the end of the year.
Knowing all of this, I had been keeping an eye on the big two job-search websites and working on building my network on LinkedIn. I thought I had at least a few months before the inevitable happened. I was wrong.
On Thursday, September 2nd, my supervisor's boss poked his head around my cubicle wall and asked, "Can you come to the conference room with me if you have a minute?" Certain that nobody was throwing me a surprise party, I followed him expecting bad news. This expectation was met when I saw the HR representative in the conference room. I nodded at her and tried to steel myself for the next few minutes. I nearly made it out of the room without crying.
I couldn't have asked for a nicer person to break the news, and I felt awful knowing that he was forced to do it three times in one day: once for me, once for my supervisor, and once for my graphic design co-worker/kindred spirit. Because of the kind messenger it was easier to understand that I had done nothing wrong, my position was simply being eliminated.
The tricky thing is, even though I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent this situation, I can't help but feel some amount of guilt and SHAME over being let go. From the time I was fifteen and legally able to work I have had a job. I've never left a job not knowing where my next paycheck would come from. But worse than losing an income, it feels like I've lost an identity. That sounds strange even to me considering I never felt like I fit in with most of my co-workers, but it feels true when I say it. It's easy to feel a little lost when you don't know how to answer the simple question, "so what do you do?" when being introduced to someone.
So I'm trying to shake the shame and banish the guilt so I can focus on what's next. I've registered for unemployment and put myself out there on every website I can think of. There are so many possibilities out there and different roads I can take. Who knows? This could even be exciting.

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