Somewhere at the corner of delirium and panic, I found traces of what used to be my mental state and I was in complete shock. I had to do an internal mic check to see if this was actually real and yes this was my life. I was unemployed, scared as hell and embarrassed beyond belief. I looked at the lackluster package that I was offered and could not believe that the silly executives that placed it before me actually thought it was fair. Really, this nominal amount for my creativity, time spent and energy given was an insult. Life as I knew it was slipping away from my grasp and I was trying to catch it as if they were printouts blown away during a gust of wind on a busy city street. Then five things happened and I was free.
Deactivate and Unplug
After countless hours of tears and red marks on my arm from the small pinches I gave myself to see if I was stuck in a nightmare, I deactivated all my social profiles and silenced every device in my home. Social media is not real life and I was going through way too much mental anguish to even attempt to decipher the faux realities of the 2500 plus connections and pseudo friends. I found that pressing reset on social was key to my mental health and next steps.
Forget Fear and Ask for Help
I can remember the smell of the unemployment office and the piercing eyes from those seated near the desk as I walked in. I would wonder if the look of complete terror is what triggered this attention, but what I did know is that I was seeking help and resources. Prior to this visit, I had never received vouchers or government assistance of any kind so I was totally oblivious to the standard operating procedures. As I approached the desk, an angelic yet calming voice reassured me that she was going to help me and started to explain the many resources available to assist me in my transition. I was shocked at the pleasantry because I was all but certain she would look down upon me. She provided me with several links and printed materials for resources for people just like me, recently laid off but highly qualified. Moral of the story, suck it up, walk in the door and ask for help.
Forgiveness is Freedom
As days passed and weeks followed I remained extremely angry and disappointed with my former employer. I prayed that I would bump into one of the executives at the grocery market or in the mall, so I could finally yell the vulgarities that my heart desired. I was furious and I deserved to be heard. I was sick of people telling me how fine I was going to be and that it was all going to work out because I wasn’t sure if any of that was true. I hated my former employer, period. How could they do that to me? How dare them free me? Yes, they freed me from the false expectation that I deserved to get a nominal check for my creativity and time. When I realized that I was free I was able to forgive them. For years I was captive to a false sense of security and the layoff was required for me to be free. Forgive them for disrupting your norm and forgive yourself for being so comfortable. Freedom is real.
Reactive and Recharge
I finally logged in only to find that the world did not stop and nothing spectacular happened. Absent the few childbirths and engagement announcements, social was the same and I didn’t miss a thing. I applied a red lip took about 13 selfies before I got a good one then uploaded a new profile pic. I scrolled until my thumbs cramped liking and commenting on photos posted within the months of my hiatus and it felt good doing it. I was starting to feel back like myself and honestly I missed the funny memes and cute pics of my friends and their kids. I also realized that my personal tone was positive and non-resentful. I may be an alien or something, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to go on a venting tirade on social media as it would air my dirty laundry about the layoff. I figured it would also make me extremely vulnerable to receiving emotionless words of wisdom or criticisms from people who would attempt to motivate me, so I passed and pressed reset instead. Lesson learned, think before you speak (or type). Why invite opinions of others into your intimate space? Personally, I leave social media for funny videos or recaps of Scandal, seeking counsel there can get sketchy.
Live the Life After
October 2013 is significant to the story of my survival as it marks the scariest moments in my life. I was unsure the how, what and why of my life and required a complete renovation. I was hurt, disappointed, angry and embarrassed and thought that all of these feelings would last forever. To my own surprise they didn’t. I learned that you survive, you move on, you live – you live the life after. I am not sure if I was merely existing before because I was so comfortable with the regularities of a corporate check, but today I survive on the drive to create the life I want to live. I default to a new thinking on ways to create and innovate my way. The question now, is what is in my hand?
“I’ve got a string in my hand, that’s all, and I’m flying a kite, and way up in the heaven’s lightening strikes, and I Benjamin Franklin, discover for the first time, the possibilities of electricity – with a string in my hand. What’s in your hand?”
– Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
Full Video | What’s In Your Hand? Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
Jai Ferrell is an award winning producer and content creator. This former corporate entertainment marketing executive turned self appointed social scientist commencing an experiment via Corporate & Unemployed. CorporateandUnemployed.com a social blog chronicling the journey to entrepreneurship or something like it in life after living a career.
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