Gotta Have Faith: What Being Laid Off Taught Me

It is 6:00am on a Sunday, the day of the week that I still associate with church and worship in my head. I wake early seven days a week-a vestige of being raised by my Grandma-but continue to stay in bed anyway. Forty five minutes pass and the lyrics from a Jill Scott song begin to play in my head, inspiring me to emerge from the blankets I cocooned myself in last night:

While 11am will come and go without me sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon, there is one aspect of my former life which continues to influence me: the need to have faith. Faith is what has helped sustain me the last few months, providing the will to forge ahead in spite of the circumstances around me.

Pink SlipOn a Friday in October I showed up to work at 8:30am as usual to start my day. By 10am I was packing up my desk along with everyone else in my division. We were laid off without warning.

I could have penned an indignant screed on how unfair it was. I could have simmered in anger. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t upset or anxious initially. For forty eight hours I allowed myself the luxury of being in my feelings. But once the weekend passed I reoriented myself, aware that sitting in a pity pool would not change the situation. It was tempting to only think of the short-term and take any position out of worry. I also loathed the idea of asking anyone for support while I rebounded. The events that took place in the immediate aftermath of my mother’s passing in 2005 left me with a fundamental and enduring mistrust of people. Since blood relatives did not show up in that time of need I have trouble believing others will be there for me in less dire circumstances. I don’t like asking for help, preferring to shoulder burdens alone rather than seek assistance and be met with refusal.

However when my comfort zone was removed after losing my job faith came into play. I approached my family-not the one I was born into but the one I’ve built and chosen for myself. I asked them to hold me down while I sought the position that would best accommodate my long-term plans. The act of putting faith in anyone other than myself was a challenge but this time it wasn’t misplaced. The support of my squad helped blunt the impact of rejection I experienced early in my job search, their understanding and encouragement essential to my refusal to become disheartened. It wasn’t a pleasure to be repeatedly told that I wasn’t the right candidate for a position, or to not receive a call after submitting my resume.

But in the wake of being told ‘no’ I held on to the hope that sooner rather than later an employer would say yes. Within two months of being laid off I reentered the work force, securing a position in a new field that was both less stressful and more complementary to my role as a parent. A potentially disastrous episode was avoided, partially because I believed in myself and those in my circle. As 2016 begins I hold on to the lessons learned from losing my job and apply them to other areas of my life as well, allowing the concepts of faith and hope to create positive change to guide me.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

2 thoughts on “Gotta Have Faith: What Being Laid Off Taught Me

  1. So many positive reads in this! 1) This is my song! 🙂 .. I used to also play Beyoncé’s “Diva” at 3:30 a.m. back in the day when I had to get to work by 5. 2) So glad you were able to reorient yourself and have faith that you could make positive change. 3) Receiving is such a hard thing for me… Your reaching out was a reminder to me that it is ok to ask for and receive help instead of being a “superwoman.” Sure, family may be estranged… but I can reach out to others as I build my new community. Thanks for sharing!

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