“Furlough” and “laid off” are terms most of us are familiar with, but something most don’t expect to experience, until recently. With Covid or “CV” as I will refer to it, ultimately putting a halt to the economy and locking us into our homes, unable to spend, it’s wasn’t really a surprise that so many companies declared employees as “surplus”. Some people had a bit of time to come to terms with the reality of being without a job, while others were blind sided quickly and laid off in early March. As quick as CV took over the news, friends of mine were t-boned with the fact they no longer had a job and eventually I would join them.
And so what do you do when you’re basically without a job for an unknown period of time, during which aren’t supposed to leave your house? The obvious answer would be to you do everything you haven’t had time for. For some people, that might be a series on Netflix they’ve had on their “list” or starting a new hobby such as baking bread. For me it was a bit different.
First, we grieve.
That looks different for everyone and takes a different amount of time. For me, it was by cleaning and staying as busy as possible to distract myself from all the time I had. The week before I was officially not working, we had a tornado through our neighborhood, so I was able to keep busy cleaning ours and our neighbors yard, organizing things with the insurance company, and just rejoicing at the fact (after 4 long days) we had internet AND electricity.
Then, we survive.
When you’re tired of grieving (usually you’re tired of doing it before you’re actually done), you go into survival mode. If you’re like me (constantly seeking distraction), you may have been maintaining that mode the whole time. But for others that means actually getting out of bed and putting on fresh pajamas, or making yourself sandwich instead of getting something delivered. Or maybe your idea of success survival is just going a day without drinking. Acknowledging that you are making progress through emotions, can be it’s own small victory.
Survival Mode 2.0
Once you’re no longer numb and hungover, you will start seeing positivity again. Celebrate it! Hold onto whatever hope you have and pursue whatever sparks a tiny bit of joy. Just remember, keep it legal and “stay home”. Celebrating and seeking a new found optimism will not only be refreshing, but will help you in setting new goals.
Survival Mode 2.0+
This is when self care actually kicks in. You are far enough out of your emotions that you can reflect on them. It might still hurt, and you acknowledge the loss, but you’re also able to start looking forward and planning for the future. If you’re on furlough, you start to consider what you will need to do if you aren’t asked back. If you are laid off, you have usually gathered yourself enough to plan for the next step, you are refreshing your resume, and starting to think about the next phase of your career. You consider whether you want to continue your current job description or take a risk and move toward something new (after all, it will probably be a refreshing perspective and is a risk you may not have taken pre-CV).
Remember, you aren’t alone.
In April 2020, Unemployment rates in ohio hit 16.8%, the highest it’s been in 44 years. That means, 1 in 6 people I talk to is going to be able to empathize and relate. As much as this is kind of a horrible “club” to belong to, it’s our job to do our best and find comfort in the fact you are not alone. It helps to remember that it wasn’t something you did, or something you had any control over.
Since I wrote this (In April), I found out my furlough got extended another 60 days. It had potential to wrap up mid June, but now is projected through August. Thats four months- an entire quarter. It’s been challenging. I am most thankful for the first few months, which gave me the mental space to deal with current events, but also to do some soul searching (which continues). Sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself is always an option, but instead I’ve taken care of some home improvement projects that I never would have had the time for otherwise, reconsidered what I value in a work place, and had lots of time to reconsider some goals- both personal and professional. If anyone else is struggling right now, my email and social inboxes are always open. We are all in this together.