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Finding Yourself After A Lay-Off

An every-girl's path to self identity after being a laid-off

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When you’re laid off (or, I assume, even get fired), it’s like ending a long-term relationship that was going great. The whole, “it’s not you, it’s me” thing comes into play and your life is shattered. As I sit here and write this, 3 months after being laid off, I still feel shattered. In fact, I’m drowning my sorrows away with a big glass of cabernet. Sure, I have more time to cook/exercise/sleep/red/etc., but I no longer have something that for so long I identified myself as.

Up until 3 months ago, I identified myself as what I did for a living. I was a talent booker for a music TV show…a job that really fed my soul. I loved every second of it, even when I didn’t. I spent so much time frustrated and annoyed at certain situations that would occur, but I LOVED it. It made me happy. I enjoyed waking up each day to go to work. I basically had a private mini-concert 5 days a week. For a music lover, what could be better? Now, I have to say I stumbled into this job. This was not a direction I ever saw myself in. I always wanted to work in entertainment, but thought I was meant for PR. However, as a 2010 college graduate, the job market was tough. I couldn’t get a job in the field I wanted, but I did get a job in a somewhat related field. It was awful and looking back I really let that job get the best of me. I let the misery of the other employees into my body and found myself to always be ‘sick’ or have something else ‘wrong.’ But, I had a job! I had a steady income, I had an easy gig. I got off at 5:30pm on the dot, every day. There was no overtime, no take-home work, this job required no thought - I just had to show up. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on social media sites and literally reading books for hours at work. Although it was easy and probably a grad-student’s dream job, I was fresh out of college and I knew that I couldn’t stay there any longer if I ever wanted to leave and use my brain again. As the 1-year mark approached, I began seriously job hunting. I was applying to any job that interested me, and after not much searching, I was offered a position at an entertainment marketing company! I was so excited, I was taking a major pay cut but I knew that this job would lead to bigger and better opportunities.

I started that job in April and was gone before Christmas. It wasn’t a bad job by any means, I learned a ton and had a truly wonderful boss. I think having a strong, smart, successful, female boss as a mentor is such a great thing for a young woman who is just starting her career. It shows you that women can make it big too. Anyway, months went by and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I wanted more responsibilities than what I was being given, but I wasn’t getting them. I was getting excellent feedback about how well I was doing, but yet I wasn’t being given any challenging tasks. I booked travel, scheduled meetings, edited spreadsheets and catalogs, ordered signs and kept the place cleaned and stocked — but none of that required much brain activity. I was quickly sinking back into the feeling of job security but knowing I wasn’t reaching my full potential. Then magic happened: someone told me that her friend was looking for a PR assistant for a recently launched music TV network! I couldn’t believe it; it was perfect for me. I was so comfortable in my current position though, that I was really nervous about moving on to something else. As I said, I wasn't really looking for a new job, I liked mine. I decided I would submit my resume and see what happened. I was called in for an interview! After the interview I didn’t hear anything back for a while (a few weeks) even though I thought it had gone well AND I’d followed up with a handwritten thank you card. Much to my surprise, just after I had given up hope that anything was going to happen with this gig, I got a call where I was offered the position. Of course, I accepted and immediately quit my job. It was bittersweet. I knew I was leaving an excellent mentor, but I was given an opportunity to be a part of something that had the potential to be the next MTV. I couldn't pass that up. That was the middle of December.

January 2 I started as the TV Network’s PR assistant. The first few days were weird, as expected. My boss literally had no time for me. I was sent into morning meetings to take notes for her, and that was about all I did. She kept saying, let’s meet tomorrow to discuss what you’ll be doing. Tomorrow turned into next week and I’m sure you know where that went - we never met. So I was assigned to help someone else out, the talent producer. This was the best thing to ever happen to my career, but I didn’t know that yet. I was still taking morning meeting notes but now once that was done I was researching BANDS and MUSIC or POP CULTURE EXPERTS to appear on our show. I was loving it. I was taken to New Orleans to help out with coverage at Super Bowl parties and when I came back I wrangled talent on the GRAMMY red carpet. Everything was so exciting! Shortly after that I was no longer researching guests for her, I was researching guests for myself. I was asked to reach out to publicists on my own and book them myself. I was terrified. What if they said no? What if I couldn’t book a single act? What if they said yes, then what? My incredible boss had been walking me through every step but I hadn’t realized it. She continued to help me until I felt comfortable and then she would push me to be even more bold and to really do it on my own. She actually got sick for a week and I had to do everything without being able to double check with her beforehand - talk about being thrown in to something! Flash forward a few months and things were going great. I was comfortable doing my job, working with an awesome boss and again, having a private concert every night. Flash forward a few more months and my boss leaves for a new job. I was heartbroken, but this allowed me to really shine. The network brought on another talent producer who was equally as wonderful as my last boss, but it was a totally different experience. Flash forward a few more months and our show is at it’s peak. We’re booking big name celebrities and musical guests - our jobs were solid, right? Wrong. Literally just when things were picking up and our name was out there (did I mention this was a NEW TV network and new show???) our CEO cancels the show. This was the first week of October and we were booked with bands and guests through December. I think every single person who worked on the show was devastated beyond expression. All of our hard work and passion was ripped from us. The worst part? They were keeping us on the air for the rest of the month. So, we had to put on a show 4 days a week for a month, even though we knew we no longer had a job. Let me tell you, it is not easy to put your heart and soul into something when you know it’s over. As I said, just like a relationship. At some point, you stop trying. We had our last episode and then it was good-bye the past 10 months and hello job-hunting.

It seems like I can never get away from the job hunting. I’ve been at it now for 3 months. It’s absolutely one of the worst feelings in the world knowing that you don’t have an income and the majority of the places you’ve applied to are ignoring you. I can’t tell you how many “Thank you for your submission.” e-mails I’ve gotten, but I can tell you how many interviews I’ve gotten from my applications. One. In three months, I’ve had one interview from a job I applied too. The other three interviews I’ve had have come from direct recommendations…and even that hasn’t landed me a job. After a while, it’s hard to stay positive. I do my best to not let it get to me, but some moments are worse than others. I’ve had my share of freak-outs, like how am I going to pay my rent? What's wrong with me? Why does no one want to hire me? And being angry at the people that laid me off. But I know that it was a business decision (I still don’t think it was a good one) and not a personal decision. I know that there was nothing I could have done better. I couldn’t have poured more of myself into the job. It was just a decision that was made and I was one of the people it affected negatively.

I’m continuing to apply for jobs and learning to find what else I can identify myself as, other than what I do for a living. I am a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, an at-home chef, a yogi, an avid reader, a wine lover, a music lover. I am all those things and more, I’m not just a job. That’s something I have to remember. I also try to remember that my last job wasn’t something I was looking for, it found me.

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