I’ve thought long and hard about addressing this topic on my blog, mostly because it’s a highly personal thing, but also it’s something that a lot of people can relate to, so here it goes.
Back in September we got the dreadful email that many pharmaceutical reps have received. We found out there would be an organizational announcement and they asked us to stay home for the day and we would receive a phone call to find out what the announcement would be. We all knew what the announcement would be, but we all tried to scramble to come up with other options for what the news could be. I spent the entire morning on the phone with different reps as they tried to guess what could be going on with our company, but deep down I knew that, that day was going to be the day I lost my job.
Before I had my baby, I worked in Manhattan and absolutely loved it. I felt so valued at my companies, like my opinion on decisions mattered and if I ever needed anything it would be quickly addressed. When I found out I was pregnant (it was a surprise for us) I continued to work in Manhattan until my due date. Right before I went out on leave the representative that covered the area in NJ around my hometown was promoted, so her position was open. I toyed with the idea of asking my manager if I could transfer to be closer to home, but I was so nervous to bring it up as I had just started with the company 10 months before I had my baby. I didn’t want to push any buttons or rattle any feathers because I knew my job would not be protected for the first two months that I was on maternity leave. I just kept quiet and thought if it was meant to be, he would reach out to me and ask me if I wanted to transfer. Sure enough, a few weeks later he did reach out to me and asked if I would want to transfer. I still remember the call so vividly and the heavy weight I felt like was placed on my shoulders in such a vulnerable state. I had to make a very challenging decision. Did I give up my relationships and successes in Manhattan for my family? I knew that it would be better for me to be closer to home with a sweet little baby joining our lives, but I also knew the territory I would be moving into would be at risk if a realignment came into the picture. In my short time with the company the territory did not perform well, and it had a truly amazing person working in it, so I knew it was the territory and not the rep. I decided to transfer, I love a good challenge. I tearfully said goodbye to doctors that had become friends that I had been calling on for 6+ years and decided if anyone could do this, it would be me. I wouldn’t ever change the choice I made. It gave me the opportunity to be a really good mom, in my opinion. I spent more time connecting with my girl, breastfed for 14 months (complete with pumping in the front seat of my car 3-5 times per day) and loved every single second of being a first time mom (well maybe not all of them, but the good days definitely outweighed the bad).
But back to the day I got laid off…I knew my job was at risk and for that reason I mentally prepared myself once that email came through, or so I thought I did. The worst part about the timing of my lay-off was that my aunt who I looked up to so much, passed away from a very courageous battle with breast cancer the day before the realignment. As you can imagine my mind wasn’t in a good place, but again I tried to be my biggest cheerleader and told myself if anyone can take this kind of news, it’s me.
The call came, and wow, was it impersonal. On the line was an HR person and a person who recently joined our company, one who had no idea of the previous successes I had in my career. He was in upper management at my company and never even took the time to get to know me after I returned from maternity leave. We worked at a small company, so I was a bit surprised by his lack of trying to connect with reps especially being new. I often thought we are all in sales, isn’t connecting the main part of our jobs? But I guess that is a story for another day, and he had no hesitation in letting me know I lost my job. I still remember my first question to him was “can you please tell me the percent reduction?” Solely because I wanted to know that I was not alone and he replied so rudely and said “what are you talking about?” He told me it wasn’t performance based, so I shouldn’t feel bad about myself (yeah, that’s easy for you to say). Then, of course, HR stepped in and told me I would get 4 weeks severance. If only it would be that easy to find a job in 4 weeks, I wish I could say it was (it took me 6 long months and being asked over and over again what have you been doing since you got laid off, often in a negative way).
After this call I went through a range of emotions but the one thing I can say through and through is that I was hurt. My ego, my confidence, my self worth, and my excitement level for having a career were all completely and honestly hurt. I took it SO personal and I’m not sure why. I was told over and over by everyone around me not to take it personally but I did and I spiraled into a bit of a sad, depressed state because of it. I still feel the most sorry for my daughter because I wasn’t the all star mom I wanted to be, I wasn’t fun, I didn’t always shower, and some days we just sat in the house so I could mope around a little.
My husband was incredibly supportive, never pushed me, let me cry, and tried to encourage me to take care of myself. It’s just hard. There’s really no way to say it other than it’s hard, but it’s transient and you will always come out on top. After all, that territory I was in wasn’t successful and it made business sense to eliminate it, rather than having me there driving around like crazy trying to grow the nonexistent business.
One day, I finally had my epiphany. I have one life to live, I can sit around sulking or I can go full force into searching for a job and all while working on making myself a better human. I paid for Linked In, reconnected with people I previously worked with, connected with hiring managers I knew had openings and beginning conversations with them, and tried even harder to become an expert in any industry or disease state I interviewed for. I tried to enjoy the time I had with my sweet girl. We started attending library time, went on lunch dates, signed up for swim class, and just did other things to make me happy and my daughter happy (because let’s be serious when I see her happy, it makes me happy).
Wouldn’t you know once I did all of this, I landed a new job. I learned so much from this experience. Mostly I learned that there is a huge truth to loving yourself first and taking care of yourself first before you make big changes in your life like beginning a new job, new relationship, new health regimen, etc. It’s so important to start with yourself and to get your head in the right place. I learned to put the anger I was feeling towards my company and the individual that laid me off aside and seek out what I could do differently and would have done differently if I ever had to lay someone off. I learned so much about the power of words and how what you say to someone and how you say it can really truly make an impact on their mental well being. I learned to forgive the individual who was forced to deliver the information to me that my territory was eliminated, after all he was just doing a really unfortunate but important part of his job. I know that the quickest way to reduce cost in business was to reduce head count. I learned to stop saying why me and start coming up with a plan for my biggest comeback in life. I mean who doesn’t love a good comeback story. I learned about practicing gratitude as I wrote about yesterday and focusing my energy on who and what I have in my life instead of worrying about what I don’t have. I learned that it is okay to say I’m struggling with my mental health, I’m depressed and I want to get better and be healthier because I know I can and I know people won’t always call me the crazy girl because I’m struggling with my mental health. I learned to say I matter, my happiness matters and many people would agree.
I really can’t wait for this next chapter in my story. I know it’s going to be a great one, and I hope you will come along for the ride with me!
Also, if you or anyone you know are suffering from job loss or job stress, and want to chat with me, please feel free to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help others work through the range of emotions.
Sending hugs today, and everyday because sometimes we all just need a good hug.
Thank you to my new friend on Instagram, Erin for this amazing post 💗