My Muse

3 Main Lessons Learned after Being Laid Off


Or a hindsight 20/20 of things you should think about right now, regardless of your employment status

Resilience is the game-changer. It is the invisible and invincible power that pulls you out from bottomless pit to back on your course.
I learned it the hard way. In just 2 months in second half of 2015, my post about detailed job description escalated quickly into the events leading me to the day I had to walk away.
It was a rollercoaster life in the oil and gas business that day (I have no idea about these days).
Now, let me resume where I left off in this post. I said I applied to companies starting from day 1 unemployed. And it was a bad idea being in a job search marathon.

I was suffering from depression symptoms months later. When the job search took its toll on me, I got irritated quickly. I became bad tempered, and the only reason I still stayed sane was my prayers. Oh, and my dog, too, since taking care of pet is beneficial for easing people’s stress.
Life was stressful without control, without knowing when I would be on stable income anymore. I avoided social contact with my neighbors as far as I can. I stayed quiet in the whatsapp group when they started talking about business they were starting. I didn’t find any job worth-having in the city I stayed in. I wasted my time by worrying. I let my wattpad post collecting dust without actually seeing the light of day. I fell into the darkness. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t know if I would find my worth anymore to the society. I didn’t know which career I would have in the future.

There were a lot of job interview process I attended, all to no avail. There was an offering to become a junior high school teacher, but I dislike teaching and interacting with pre-teens. I didn’t want to suck it up just for the money. No, it’d be better if I didn’t teach because I would just waste everyone’s time and money by my half-arsed effort.

I became a supplemental course teacher, though. Science teaching. English teaching. And I didn’t quite like it because I was bored. I know I was destined for something bigger than this. My soul craved for a niche job that I would love to do it every single day, motivated and passionate.

In November 2016 when the offer finally came, it was a result of the conspiring universe by God’s will to answer my prayers. The selection was quick, in less than a week. Quite effortless, I must say, because the interview series was done by phone and internet calls. I didn’t even need to waste money on flight ticket like I did for every other out-of-island job search process. The timing was also perfect because otherwise I would have to accept another job offer which was situated in a faraway town which didn’t click for me.
Would have it been possible if I just avoided other interviews at all cost and only had this last offer and selected?
No. A big no.

People don’t learn resilience willingly. They have to.

Because resilience is about survival. To put you in survival mode, life puts you in life-threatening situation. I ever wrote about the soul-crushing situation in my old job. I had to do it simply because I didn’t know any other option, and my skill was too specific to be accepted in other industries. Life-threatening or soul-crushing, resilience is your tool to get out of the darkness and see the sunshine of your life.

ian-espinosa-311604
Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

unsplash-logoIan Espinosa

In retrospective mode, I learnt 3 lessons on the aftermath of the event. Well, now that I’m wiser, I managed to place all the puzzle pieces.

1. Your soul wants to be freed, and if you don’t seek a way, sooner or later God will put you into a situation where you must
There is no way to escape from your calling. If a job doesn’t suffice you spiritually or give you meaning of life, it’s a sign you must let it go. What I experienced was liberating. The night I received my layoff letter, I slept peacefully knowing outside was raining. Rain and other extreme weather was the biggest opponent of my field job. Now, I enjoy rain and the smell of earth after rain (called petrichor). I enjoy thunder without worrying if my detonator might go off triggered by lightning charge. I even tolerate the traffic jam because I’m a sucker for city life.

2. Learn new skill, regardless of what you’re doing right now
This cost me a way much more than I thought. When I was laid off, it was like a puppy abandoned on the side of the road by his ruthless ex-owner. The puppy had to survive the road, didn’t know where to get food as nobody taught him to. He didn’t know that there might be wolves or coyotes lurking in the dark, ready to eat him. I didn’t have any knowledge to survive in other industries. It was a wide new world. Nobody needed my explosive or radioactive handling skill anymore. I was just the same as a fresh grad in the eye of a recruiter.
When I was still on the job, I didn’t have time to pick up skills outside of my job description. So when I passed a process for a business consulting recruitment, I had to learn so much things in short time. I didn’t pass the following step because I couldn’t even interpret the chart properly.

On a lighter note, my >8 yr hobby as a blogger earned me familiarity with CMS, my first project when I was hired for this PM job. Who knew, right? Invest in developing yourself.

3. Be aware of what’s happening in the world
Nothing screams naivety more than a false belief in status quo. With new startups or disruptive business models come everyday and make headlines, it’s very hard to say that what you’re doing is still existing few years later. In my case, I was recruited in oil and gas during its spring in 2012. I was laser focused in doing my job and improving my technical knowledge without a sense of business. When some analysts predict that the oil price would plunge, I was in another planet doing my own thing. Finally, when the industry took the hit, I was totally unprepared.
This is related to #2, but what I want to highlight in this point is about awareness and responsiveness. You might tailor the new skill you want to learn with this awareness. Kind of anticipating the trend and get ready with the skill set it requires.

Remember: everything happens for a reason. It’s not a cliche thing to say, it’s reality. I say this as somebody who has gone through turbulent times and survive.

Working in my company now gives my life meaning. It serves my soul and fulfills my life purpose. If I look back, I wouldn’t have known why I was laid off like in my question in this post, but now I know. Without being forced to leave off the soul-crushing situation, I wouldn’t have been doing what I’m doing now.

Until next time,

Sekar

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