**I’m just finishing up the book tour for What Comes Next, a Little Bound Books Essay Series installment about my experience with job loss. What follows is part of the book talk I gave at a few of the events. I thought I’d share it here for those who were unable to attend!**
What not to say to someone who has just lost their job:
God has a plan for you.
I’m sure you’ll find something better really soon.
Hmm..sounds like you need to raise your personal vibration.
It’s probably for the best, don’t you think?
Man, I could use that kind of time off.
Well, good thing money doesn’t buy happiness.
Life doesn’t give you things you can’t handle.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It could be worse.
Everything happens for a reason.
Instead, here are some alternatives.
You are not your job. You never were, and you never will be.
Your life has meaning and purpose. Know that even though it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you, your foundation can take the shaking.
Losing your job sucks. I’m really sorry to hear this happened.
Things will be hard for awhile, maybe even for a long time, and it’s ok to be angry or sad or overwhelmed. It’s ok to ask for and accept help.
There are financial ramifications when work goes away, but even though money wields a lot of power, it doesn’t have to hijack your values.
If you are white, able bodied, straight, cis-gender, enjoy a stable family life, and have a large safety net, your experience navigating unemployment will be easier. If you have it, this is a good opportunity to check your privilege.
This may feel like a personal moment of destruction, but even destruction has the capacity to contain beauty.
You are not your job.
No matter what your employment status, remember that you are not your job, no matter if you love it, tolerate it, hate it, or have resigned yourself to it. You are not your job, whether you’ve been at it for 40 years or were let go two years ago and are still unemployed or under-employed today. No matter what your job is, from accountant to teacher to CEO to stay at home parent, who you are is so much more than whatever job description defines your days.
If you are navigating a job loss right now – whether it’s your own or someone whose employment status impacts you (or you have in the past), know that you aren’t alone. I won’t offer empty platitudes and say “everything happens for a reason” or “chin up, this is just an opportunity to grow.” We all process differently, and we all have unique life situations. There is no one right strategy to cope. But what I do know, and what I found in the process of sifting through old journal entries about my own experience with job loss (and writing my latest book, What Comes Next) is that beauty can sometimes be found in the rubble of what feels like destruction.
One more time: You are not your job. Rather, you are like fireweed, one of the first plants to sprout after a wildfire. Resilient, full of grit, an offering of the beauty that remains even when other things die, new life rising from the ashes of the old.