We’ve all heard the saying, “When one door closes, another opens.” It’s such a cliche and probably way overused.
However, it is very fitting for this post. In fact, I would even change that to, “When a great door closes, an excellent door opens.”
When 2016 started I felt I was totally on top of my game career wise. I had been working back at the company that started my marketing career. It was pretty much all I truly ever known and I was making things happen. I was ready for a killer year and looking forward to all the possibilities and projects destined for me in the upcoming months.
I was swamped with projects and enjoyed every single minute. I was proud to go to work every day, knowing I was working with amazing talent. It was fun. No, it was great.
I was knee deep in spreadsheets, trying to organize data for a client. This project was pretty big and I was in my zone. In the midst of creative and organization, my desk phone rang. When I saw the name on the caller ID, my heart sank to my toes. I knew what was waiting for me on the other end of the line.
Before we left for Christmas break, there had been talks of layoffs. I wasn’t too worried about it because I was busy, had work to do, and it wasn’t my client that was giving the agency issues. And hey, I had missed layoffs in the past, so I am golden. I never really thought twice about it. I belong here. This was my home.
Looking at the caller ID, I knew what was awaiting me. My career here was over. I didn’t want to answer. I didn’t want to leave. I braced myself and picked up the receiver. For a split second, I was hoping I was being punked. Nope.
I entered the conference room where two of my colleagues were soberly sitting. For a split second, I flashed back to the day I interviewed in this room. The demeanor was much different today. My heart was now lodged in my throat. I’m pretty sure I was frozen in disbelief.
I had invested many years with this agency and they in me. I started working there when I was 23, still in college. This organization molded me, taught me, instructed me and lead me to become one hell of a marketer. I had worked there almost six years before I left to tackle another endeavor, but you always end up coming home. I had been back for almost a year, even though the people had changed, it was still like home.
Standing in the doorway of the conference room, my mind gets a little fuzzy, because I don’t remember sitting down. As my colleagues began to speak, I closed my eyes with my head down. For a second, it was like I couldn’t understand them. You know, like how the adults talk in the Charlie Brown cartoon. Again, am I being punked?
They told me they had to let me go. My actual response was, “Are you sure? I am mega busy right now.” They were very kind to me. They could have been a-holes. One of my colleagues was explaining reasons why and telling me about the layoff process. In a daze, I asked him to stop talking. It was silent. Before I realized it, I was crying. I was super emotional. I began defending myself, not all psycho like, but reminding them how busy I was and how things needed to get done. And how I fit the agency motto and was so pure of heart and passionate about my job.
They told me it was a hard decision to make and it had nothing to do with my work performance. Of course in my head, I was thinking, “Damn right it don’t. I am a hard worker.” With a shaky hand, I signed the paper knowledging I am being let go. And just like that, my career was over.
It was January 11th when I became unemployed for the first time since I started working at the age of 15. What in the hell am I going to do now? I am 36 years old, have a family and bills. The door to my career just got slammed in my face. I felt like a loser. I was deflated.
At first, I tried to play it cool. I posted a blog post about being laid off. I posted it on social media. By January 12th, I had a job interview. Didn’t get the job. I applied at many places. Then on January 14th, I received notice I made it to the phone interview round for a company I had never heard of before but had applied for on a whim. That lifted my spirits.
The phone interview went well and I made it to the next stage, face-to-face interview. The only downfall was I had to wait until February 4th before the interview would take place. To me, that seemed like a lifetime.
As the days after my layoff passed, even though I had this scheduled interview in a few weeks, I sank into this funk. There were days I didn’t get out of bed until mid afternoon. I felt worthless. Looking back, it amazes me how I let my career define my self-worth. I just wanted to work.
Finally, February 4th arrived. I had my interview. I was nervous. This was the first time I had actually had a real interview, with people I didn’t know, in 10 years. Prior to my interview, I had to research how to interview. I can’t explain it, but going into this, it just felt right.
The interview went well. I found myself totally jazzed and hopeful. Now, I just have to wait for my phone to ring with an offer. Twenty-four hours later, it did. I got the job.
I started working for the O’Connor Company February 8th. And I had no idea what I was in for. For the first two months, I was overwhelmed. My brain was on overload. I loved it. Since my employment with O’Connor, I have done more in my field of marketing than I ever had at my former employer. I have developed marketing plans, written television, and radio commercials. Shared my marketing knowledge with clients. Helped organize the sales team. Met amazing people, who believe and trust my field of study.
When I was first laid off, I thought I would never find a place as awesome as my former employer. But I have come to realize, my potential was being underutilized. I was comfortable at my old job. I wasn’t being challenged. And now, I am tapping into my forgotten passions. I am blossoming and growing more and more each day.
In the beginning of my unemployment, I was sure I would never be as successful as I once was. Boy, was I so wrong. I can honestly say I am grateful for my lay off. I am thankful because I now know what it is like to work for a company who values my skill set and wheel house. O’Connor has relit my creative fire and let me tell you, it’s hot.
So back to the cliche, the agency I worked for was great. I loved every second there. The staff is some of the most creative and passionate people on the planet. I have made lifelong friends. And I know they will continue to do great work. I look forward to seeing it. But I’ve moved on to excellent. My eyes have been opened to a whole other side of marketing and advertising.
I will never forget my month of unemployment. I know it wasn’t long and some people are unemployed for months. But for me, it was long enough. When it is all said and done, I am so thankful I was let go from something great, so I could become excellent.