Today’s post is from a guest blogger, who recently lost her job as a result of corporate budgetary cuts. She reached out to me to let me know that my work had been a help to her over the years, and she attached a letter to share her feelings about her recent events. I was so touched by what she wrote, I asked her if I could share. I hope you also enjoy Angela’s thoughts and perspective. I find her peace during a challenging professional time to be very refreshing. Please leave her a comment of encouragement too!!
A few of the responses I’ve received from coworkers after hearing the news of my recent job layoff were:
“When I heard the news it caused me to feel sick to my stomach.”
or “I had a pit in my stomach when someone told me”.
Although I would like to believe that my leaving would put the company in such a dire situation that everyone would suddenly become violently ill, knowing the business could not survive after I left, this is certainly not the case. I recognize that when it comes to corporate life we are all – replaceable.
Aside from sharing in my pain, a reminder of this reality may have been a reason their stomachs were turning. We worked together, we related, we worked hard, we put our “blood sweat and tears” into projects to meet the needs of clients; we did everything we could to help make the company successful and after all that—a business decision for a job elimination still had to be made. This news to many who heard it was not just of a colleague leaving. It was a symbol for what everyone knows in their heart of hearts.
It signaled not just another person being “let go” to meet financial objectives, but it placed a spotlight onto the unsaid fact that we all know, but do not discuss– our jobs are all replaceable. As people, however, we are not and that is what counts.
This is not about corporations doing wrong to employees. I am grateful for every ounce of experience gained, people met and the generosity shown to me through the job elimination process. I understand companies have to make tough choices, and I am excited about the opportunity to open a new chapter in my career. This is about knowing that your job does not define “you” and “who” you are has little to do with what you “do” for a living.
The years it has taken for me to figure this out have been long and tumultuous. When being introduced to someone I would often try to find an opportunity to let them know not only the company name I worked for, but also my specific title. If they would bait me with additional time to listen, I’m sure I would have provided them with a CliffsNotes version of my accomplishments. Looking back, I am thankful no one was following me around with a video camera, albeit “The Young and Full of Themselves” might have a nice ring to it as a reality show. Well, maybe the television market is rather saturated with those right now.
I believe, like many people, good often comes from bad. The day I found out my job had been eliminated was also the day I discovered how blessed I really am. My mom left work early to come to support me, a neighbor almost beat down the door to check on me, my family, friends, classmates, colleagues and church members all reached out with encouragement and support. One simple post on Facebook and even a high school classmate I hadn’t seen in twenty years sent me three jobs to consider by the next day.
These are not people who know much or even care about my professional status or accomplishments. These are people who know me as a person; the wife, mother, sister, friend, classmate, neighbor and colleague who really cares about them. The one who has been there to try to help them connect with people when they needed jobs, listened to their struggles, shared their pain, celebrated their joy, served them by saying “yes” to helping when they needed something even when it wasn’t convenient, and above all else cared about them and their families. Now they were caring about me and it was humbling to be a recipient of their kindness. Even more, it was life changing to know they were not responding, because of my title, company name or in reciprocity of a business transaction. They were reaching out because they cared enough to help me as a person.
I know our jobs are replaceable, but I also know our relationships with people are not. Taking time to get to know people, care about them and help others as much as we can each day helps make our lives fulfilling. I am thankful this experience has given me the opportunity to be reminded that it is not what you do for your profession that defines you as a person. It is who you are to the people in your life that is important.
For me, this is built on a foundation of strong spiritual faith and fueled by the relationships I have with the people I am blessed enough to have around me—and today more than ever, I know that is what really matters.