When Someone You Know Is Let Go

I originally wrote this in 2014, but it feels appropriate for today. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was just a matter of time before people across many sectors would be furloughed, let go, laid off – or whatever it’s being called today.

Friends, a few thoughts as we wind down the year: specifically to those who lost their job or knew someone who lost their job this year. If you were ‘let go’ … I have some good news for you… it will be okay. It may not feel like it right away, but things will get better and you’ll be better for it. Sometimes a dramatic, emotional event like being let go is the exact thing you need to grow. It happened to me.

Years ago, I was let go from my job in radio and I was crushed. I built something so special with some amazing people and in an instant, it was all gone. Reality hits you hard. You see, we had just welcomed a brand new baby in our home. Speaking of that home, the roof was leaking, as was the foundation. It really felt like nothing would ever fix all the leaks; both the actual and the metaphorical. Then, over time, with hard work and a whole lotta love and support, the water stopped (just keeping the metaphor going here). The big takeaway was that I used to live to work and slowly started to figure out that I had it all wrong. Time – and more specifically time spent with people I love – was the only thing that mattered. Losing my job was the trigger to figuring this out. In fact, when I was riding the subway home after getting ‘shown the door’ I was a wreck. It was like a scene from a movie: I had a small cardboard box that held a few items, my eyes were glassy and I was in and out of crying the whole way home. I kept thinking, “What am I going to say?” “How do I explain this?” “What are we going to do?” I even thought about not telling anyone. Like, maybe, I can fake it for a few weeks while I find something else. Then I walked through the door of my house and it all became clear. I scooped my baby into my arms and a calmness came over me. I said to my partner “I was fired”. She said something like ‘those idiots don’t know what they just did” and then we laughed a bit – maybe a bit nervously. And that was pretty much the only conversation we had about it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was nothing. If you just lost your job, I know how it looks and feels; like the world is closing in. The anxiety. The unknown. The fear of not knowing what is next. I PROMISE YOU the world is not closing in on you. That’s just a temporary sensation. It will go away. The unknown is to be embraced. It is not scary. It is full of possibility. In my career trajectory, I thought it was an unsurpassable brick wall, but it was just a small speed bump – and not even a real speed bump. More like the kind of speed bump that has been scraped over by snowplows for years. Like a teeny tiny blip. That blip was an amazing life lesson. What I learned about myself was extraordinary. Almost to the point where I considered thanking the guy who ultimately had to terminate me. (Update: I never thanked that fucker. I just moved on)

When I hear about people losing their job, I feel a deep emotional connection to them. I feel there are things I should say, or things I should do. When I was let go I received two phone calls right away. One from my friend Zeke and one from my friend Martin. I will always remember that they took the time to call me and not just to say ‘sorry to hear’, but more about future plans. If you are working with someone and one day they get let go, I promise you that picking up a device and communicating with them in some way will mean the world to them. Maybe not right away, but they will always remember. A year after I was let go, my buddy Martin (Yes, the same Martin as above) was also let go. I called him right away and he answered his phone with ‘You beat me by one!’. We laughed. He meant he was the second person to call me and I was the first to call him. We remembered. We then talked about the future, just like when I was let go.

As this tumultuous year winds down, take a moment and think about the people you know who’s life has changed. Check in on them. Send a message. Say hello. Talk about the future.

Either way, thanks for reading. I really do appreciate it. Here’s to the future and cheers to spending more time with the people you love.

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