Guest Post by Dana Gevelinger
Two years ago I lost my job. It was a couple days before the new year when I got the news. Just like that a two minute conversation ended 6.5 years. My entire professional career. The holidays suddenly became not so happy. The thought of a new year went from “Let’s go!” to “What the h3!! am I going to do?” I was starting the year with no steady income, no plan, and a whole lot of worry.
The cycle of emotions I went through was intense. It wasn’t just my job I lost. It was friendships I had developed, committees I had served on, and organizations I’d helped. I woke up and had no place to be. I felt disposable—like a phrase I’d heard before and loathe “everyone’s replaceable.” I felt like I’d failed. I spent a ton of time worrying what people would think. I dreaded conversations with basically anyone. The innocent question, “How’s it going?” made me want to cry. I did not want to leave my house, and was a bit of a shut-in for a couple months (I didn’t know at the time that I was practicing for the current Covid-19 stay-at-home order).
I had some serious resentment. I felt thankful for the opportunity to have learned and grown in my job, and really hurt at the same time. I’m not going to lie or pretend that I moved through these feelings quickly, easily, or without help. After a bunch of reflection here’s what I’ve learned…
7 Things I Learned from Losing My Job
1. People care way less than you think.
I’m not saying people didn’t care about me, but this was a chapter in my story, not theirs. It didn’t affect their life. It also didn’t negatively affect what they thought of me. I made up so many stories in my head. I put so much energy into worrying how people would react. Oh man, it was freeing when I finally decided I didn’t care!
2. Other people will make decisions that affect your life.
You can’t control everything. Life is unpredictable. You can handle what’s thrown at you – even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Also, those decisions don’t affect your worth.
3. Your skills and experience can’t be taken away.
When I lost my job I still had everything I’d learned and all the skills I’d developed. All that changed was where was my talents were directed on a daily basis.
4. You choose.
It’s your decision how you react to a situation. Embrace it, hold onto it, let it consume you, move past it, be thankful for it – you decide.
5. Allow yourself to feel the feelings.
I had multiple people tell me I didn’t have to be strong in this moment. Trying to be stoic wasn’t strong, it was just keeping me from moving forward. Work through how you feel so you can move forward.
6. Talk about what you are going through.
I found so much support in learning from other people who had been in similar situations. I’ve also been able to use my experience to support others who unexpectedly lost their jobs. The more I talked about it, the less of a big deal it became.
7. Don’t put all your energy into chasing someone else’s dreams—chase yours.
So guess what? I decided to chase mine. I started my own graphic and web design business, Gevelinger Design LLC.
Has it been easy? Nope. Was I scared? Yup. Would I have done this had I not lost my job? Nope. Am I glad I did? Every day.
Take the risk or lose the chance was my mantra for 2018 and it guided me to get out of my own way and go for it. Two years have quickly passed and you know what? The risk has been worth it.