Nadine Luscombe was a former project coordinator for a construction company.
I turned around from my desk just in time to catch Dan, the senior project manager on my team, streaming down the hallway red-faced, determined to get to his office as soon as possible, doing everything but running. My insides got very small and hard like an Indian rubber ball and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I was the only one out of the four in our office that noticed him. I looked across at Janis and tried to catch her eye to no avail as she skimmed through songs on her iPod. Way beyond the sea of gray partitions at the end of the room, Dan finally made it into his office and shut the door, the lock mechanism clicked into place with a big “SCREW YOU!” A moment later, through his office window I saw a white sleeve and hand reach up and unhook his trusty large face clock off of the wall. It left a light clean circle.
The Indian rubber ball bounced against my intestines now, the hair that stood up on the back of my neck was now accompanied by a light sheen of sweat. I realized that for the third time in six years I was in line for a “no cause lay off” from work in the construction industry. I started as a receptionist at $11.00 per hour and worked my way up to a project coordinator with the hopes of becoming a project manager within the next year. It wasn’t going to happen. The department manager escorted me into the president’s office. The president sat with the vice-president sitting at his left and the controller at his right and I was given the official news. Afterwards I returned to my desk and methodically Googled the state unemployment department so that I could apply for benefits. My entire section was laid off December 29, 2008. The Indian ball landed hard in a large goop of acid in the pit of my stomach and slowly disintegrated the rest of the day. Happy New Year.
I looked at the other faces and saw their denial, shock and disbelief; it was sad and familiar and it showed me how much I’d grown through past lay offs. I wanted the girls in my office to know that it happens and that they’d be OK. They were so young. It took me three lay-offs to get this understanding myself. Yes, it was my third time to the rodeo.
It’s been a few months now and I’m happier than I’ve ever been! How’s that you say? Are you feeling all right? Yes! During the past lay-offs I gloomed around and felt sorry for myself for the duration. This time, I hit the employment agencies as if I were in a race, joined all the networking sites, volunteered, and helped out friends with their businesses. I let everyone know my situation – got on the bandwagon basically because I wanted to find something before the inevitable mass of unemployed hit the beach and bombarded the market. Well, I did that up until March. Then I just decided that I did all that I could do and I realized that everyone was hunkering down so I decided to stop fighting the situation.
What I had with this lay-off was a moment of freedom and so I let my fear free fall all the way to the understanding that none of this was my fault and I allowed whatever feelings about work, passion and life purpose to slowly return.
From the beginning of my years of being employed, I’ve put the blinders on and headed directly for the almighty buck because I had to make sure my family would survive. That attitude almost burned my soul completely out. I’ve proven to myself that I can work under unpredictable circumstances and adapt to stressful situations. I’ve learned that I’m able to succeed and grow with a company. I know that I can be a super mom and super employee, and I also knew that what I did for a living did not make me happy.
When I think about what makes me happiest, it’s when I draw and how quickly the hours pass while I finish a painting and how satisfied and fulfilled I feel when I am done. So I have been exploring the avenues that will take me to my goal with something that makes me the happiest and drawing does that.
Will I find a job? Eventually, yes. Will I be making the big bucks again? Can’t predict that but it’s possible. Will I be happier? YES.
So if you’ve just been laid off. It’s OK, it’s not your fault. Look at it as an opportunity to get connect with yourself again. Let yourself free fall into your passion. Life is how you perceive it. What have you got to lose?