Posted by: ClewisWrites | December 16, 2011

The Stages of Unemployment

It’s funny how a simple thing like being “temporarily laid off” can spark something deep inside you.  There are stages of course, similar to the grieving process, before you can achieve that “ah-ha” moment.  Even if there is the promise of coming back to your position, the mind goes through these phases before coming to terms with the situation.

Unemployment - Sucks when your job gets blow'd up

Stage One: Numbness

You get the call.  Your boss tries to delicately break the news that you have been laid off.  They start by telling you that it was in no way a reflection on your performance. You sit there, politely smiling, listening.  Your brain works to process the words being said but really your mind is just hung up on the words, “laid off.”  Things don’t seem so bad.  You think, hey it’s the holidays, I can enjoy a little more time with family and friends.  I don’t have to rush to work and then rush home to finish up holiday shopping or whatever else may need doing.  You really just kind of go numb.  There’s no real emotions – just your brain skipping from one thing to the next as it tries to understand what comes next.

Stage Two: Anxiety

As you process, you start to think of all the little things.  You remember that you still hadn’t purchased Christmas presents for the daycare teachers.  Your car insurance was a payroll deduction.  Your student loan payment was due in a week.  Groceries.  Rent. What if you get into a car crash on the way home from being laid off and end up needing a major surgery.  What if you get diagnosed with a terminal illness at your next doctor’s appointment and need expensive, life-saving treatment?  What if, what if, what if?  You start think of the most outlandish scenarios and all of them end up with you either dying because you didn’t have the money to pay for it or you end up selling your kidney to pay for a family member’s treatment so they can live.  It’s ridiculous but you can’t stop the snowball of life threatening scenarios.  That is the point when you should go to sleep.  Get at least 10 hours that night.  Nothing is going to happen in one night so might as well just get some sleep.   Trust me.  Sleep helps.

Stage Three: Anger

When you wake up in the morning, all of the anxious thoughts should be more rational.  You realize that you were sounding a bit crazy when you told your husband that you were afraid that you all might contract avian flu and require CDC life-saving measures.  Yeah, admit it, that was crazy.  With less crazy going through your brain, you start to analyze – maybe even over-analyze.  So, you find yourself sitting over your cup of coffee, thinking about how if you were the boss, you would have done things differently to avoid the whole situation.  Of course, you really can’t honestly believe the scenario because you really don’t know the whole story behind it all.  But in your grand delusion, you have all the answers and it kind of upsets you that the powers that be didn’t.  Again – not really productive but it clears the way for the next step…

Stage Four: Moping

After you realize that getting angry isn’t going to change anything, you start to question your abilities.  Especially in today’s economy with a degree in writing, or whatever degree you happen to have, I’m sure you think the same thing.  Where do you go?  Who wants you for that?  You start to kind of sell yourself short and really wonder if the mountains of debt you earned while getting said degree were worth it.  Luckily, if you have good family and friends, this stage doesn’t last long.

Stage Five: Reinvention

After a few hours (because, if at all, that’s how long it should take) of moping, you should be ready to dust yourself off and get back into the fray.  It’s daunting and it’s not fun in any sense of the word, but you have to do it.  Just think about what you want to do.  Go back to school.  Take a stab at making those crafts and setting up an etsy shop.  Volunteer while you’re waiting for your next big break or that call back to work.  Do anything that gets you out there.  Do what you love.  I once had a calendar for life’s little instructions.  Some of them stuck and some of them, well, I don’t know whose life they applied to.  At any rate, the one I hold on to every day read “Do what makes you happy and you’ll find a way to make money doing it.”

Go out there and do.  Be happy.  The universe likes happy people.  Become one of them and everything will fall into place.  After all – you can’t take it with you!  Make the most of it. You never know what you might find!



  1. AWESOME! Love it!

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