Furlough Story - One of Millions: Being Laid Off amidst COVID-19

On May 14, I was laid off from a new job that I had for two months. I was told at 8:45 that morning and was completely disconnected from all company programs by noon the same day. I had never been fired or laid off before. I got off the call and walked around with no emotion for a few hours. Not sad. Not happy. Not angry. Just blank.

Eventually, the blank emotions turned into a combination of panic and optimism: worrying about paying the mortgage, confusion about how to apply for unemployment, excitement for the chance to explore potential new opportunities, concern that no jobs were available during COVID, joy that I had more time to do things I enjoyed, panic that I’d get bored… all of it. It felt like a lifetime of questions had just been presented to me on a not-so-shiny silver platter that was engraved “FIGURE IT OUT.”

Without too much thought, I posted an article on LinkedIn. I am pretty good at connecting with people in person, but online platforms have not been a priority for me. Additionally, I really really don’t like asking for help. But given the circumstance, I posted the article to get people’s opinions about navigating through this really odd, confusing time.

I was overwhelmed. I received several responses to my post on LinkedIn via emails, phone calls and texts. People shared their experience of being unemployed or laid off. They gave me advice on what actionable items I should take. They gave encouragement and reminded me that I am not alone. In fact, I am one of millions who have lost their jobs this year due to the coronavirus.

With the help of the career coach and recruiter I was set-up with, as well as the advice of every person who responded to my LinkedIn article, I decided to take my time.

I decided that it is a rare opportunity for me to figure out what I want to do.

And I also decided, that the only way that I can really figure all of this out, is to be open to having conversations that may be uncomfortable or even unwarranted.

So I started a blog. Not only did I want to keep everyone who was kind enough to reach out updated, but I also wanted to share my honest thoughts and truths about this utterly vulnerable experience. I don’t think we share our vulnerable moments very often. We share the other side of it - the successes or failures after the fact. But I hope that by sharing my experience with others, I can make some discoveries about myself.

It’s only been one week and a half but unemployment has been good so far. My days so far have consisted of the following:

  • Reading. Lots of reading.

  • Randomly yelling out, “I’M UNEMPLOYED!” or “I MAKE ZERO DOLLARS OF SALARY A YEAR!” (In the house, of course. Not in public. Maybe I should consider doing this in public too)

  • Taking random rides on my Vespa in the unusually clear Los Angeles air.

  • Attempting to exercise. Key word is attempting.

  • Smothering my dogs.

  • Chatting with my parents and husband about every single random thought that comes into my mind. God bless their souls.

I’ve found that it helps to create a loose schedule per day, and to create action items. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself understanding that there are circumstances outside of my control. If you’re reading this and you are furloughed or laid off or just in a really crummy circumstance, please know that you are not alone. This time will pass. And when it does, my hope for you and for me is that we will look back on this time and remember it fondly.

Be gracious to yourself. And when you can’t be, let others be gracious to you on your behalf. Somehow, things work out, and I believe this will work out too.