“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

― Nelson Mandela

Upon returning to work from maternity leave, my department underwent restructuring with managers hired to take on my old workload. I returned to work with virtually no responsibilities and spent 2 months “checking in” to see if there was anything for me to work on. I was stuck. After years of slaving late nights, taking work home on weekends, and even coming into the office during the Christmas holidays, it took 9 months for my company to forget about me. I felt undervalued, unappreciated, and angry.

I set out to find a new purpose in my career. I received a job interview for a role that married my skills with my passion – literally my dream job – and landed the job the following week. My year had finally started looking up! Right before I started my new role, COVID19 came around and companies started going on lockdown. By the time I started at the new company, I had been working in quarantine for a week with my previous employer. That didn’t phase me though, I was still ecstatic to move onward and upward.

Unfortunately, my hype was short-lived. After 2 months in my new role, my new company announced that they would be closing for good. So there I was a new mom in a new job now newly laid-off.

As I write this, I acknowledge that the circumstances could have been worse. At least my family is safe, healthy, and have food on the table. At the time though, it felt like the end of the world. I had taken such a big risk in my career and life just handed me a big fat turd.

1. Self-Care

What could I do after being laid-off 2 months into my dream job? I took a long bath. I drank a glass of wine, put on a lavender night mask, and had a nice long sleep. When faced with bad news, people are often depicted as turning to self-destructive activities such as binge drinking but why not switch gears and try a self-caring activity instead?

2. Meditation & Reflection

To bounce back from this, I realized I would need to bring my A-game. This required me to look after my well-being first. I needed to be calm and rational to address the situation in front of me. I used to roll my eyes at “mindfulness” evangelists. It may work for hippies but I was not convinced that clearing my mind would help me clear my infinite to-do list.

After being laid off, clearing my mind has allowed me to step back from the immediate situation and reflect. Instead of moping in what I had lost, I thought about what I had gained from the situation. I was now job hunting with a higher title than 2 months ago. I had also picked up new skill sets, new job references, and gained insights on what I personally wanted from my career. In the past 2 months, I had found more purpose in my career than in the previous years.

3. Rebuild

Finally, I was ready to start over. Rebuilding is not just about rebuilding your career. It’s also about rebuilding your spirit and morale. The rebuilding process was not easy, especially during a pandemic when jobs are sparse. Sometimes, rebuilding can be a slow process and you may even need to switch gears once or twice. Having a routine was a huge proponent in helping me pull through unemployment. Luckily for me, I received 2 job offers within the first week of being laid off.

Through this experience, I realized that when I thought I had hit rock bottom, I still have SO MUCH to be thankful for. Setbacks are part of life, the best thing to do is to take care of yourself, grow from the experience, and move forward. There are brighter things ahead!