How to Survive Losing Your Job

…an 18-step program. Or something like that.

Step 1: Call your mom at 10 a.m. to tell her you just got laid off. She’ll be making her way through the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts when you call, so you’ll have to wait until she pays for her extra large decaf iced coffee to break the news. After she’s “have a nice day!”-ed the cashier, she’ll ask you if you’re OK. Cry on the sidewalk 30 feet away from your now former office building.

Step 2: Lug a tote bag full of all of the personal belongings you’ve just collected from your desk all the way to the bus to go home. (Most of these belongings are dishes because one time you wrote an article about sad desk lunches and it inspired you to stop using paper plates, but now all of that ceramic is clanging together in the stupid bag like it’s trying to tell everyone who passes by “she just lost her job!”

Step 3: Tweet about it because you know your friends are wonderful and will share it and send you job listings. (By the end of the day you’ll be retweeted 30 times and you’ll be so overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness that you’ll cry again, but the good way this time.)

Step 4: Get off the bus and walk into your apartment, laughing as you declare to your roommate, “I got laid off today!” even though it’s not funny at all. Like, not even a little bit.

Step 5: Stand in the middle of your room and think about how you want to throw out all of your belongings because you need to feel “cleansed” or whatever. Right before you grab a giant trash bag, a friend will call. You’ll spend the next 45 minutes on the phone trying to be positive and by the time you hang up, you’ll decide this is somehow a good thing.

Step 6: Your mom calls you back and reality sinks in that you might have to move back to Connecticut because your lease is up in a month and you’re supposed to start looking for apartments soon and who is going to accept your apartment application when you’re unemployed? But that’s like, worst case scenario, right? Right?

Step 7: Decide to order Seamless and then change your mind and decide to clean everything you own. Decide to do both, then do neither. Instead, apply to a job that your friend just sent you, then lay in your bed and be mad for a few minutes because you deserve to be a little mad for a little while. Then look for more jobs. Repeat back and forth until it’s dinnertime and you realize you haven’t eaten anything all day.

Step 8: Walk to the grocery store to buy ice cream because you’re sad and sometimes it’s OK to have chocolate ice cream for dinner when you’re sad. Proceed to lose all hope in the universe when you realize the store is out of gummy bears. It’s not fair to be jobless and gummy bear-less in the same day. It’s just not.

Step 9: Rationalize to yourself that you should also buy some “real food.” Spend five whole minutes trying to decide which kind of sauerkraut to buy because there are four different brands at different prices and they all list the exact same nutritional information and you can’t figure out what the difference is but you know it must be there. Buy the second least expensive one because getting the cheapest one feels like a trap.

Step 10: Stop at another store on the way home. Find and purchase a bag of 99-cent knockoff store-brand gummy bears. This feels like a much bigger win than it actually is.

Step 11: Eat your ice cream and gummy bears and feel content for a few brief moments until you suddenly remember you have student loans to pay.

Step 12: Netflix and chill (and by chill I mean refresh your emails every 5 minutes even though it’s 9 p.m. and you know no one is going to respond to your job applications at that time) until you fall asleep.

Step 13: Wake up way earlier than you need to because you’re used to getting up for work. Go to the office to return some of your things to a co-worker. Meet someone who makes you smile for coffee. Go to the gym. Buy a crop top at H&M for $2 to satisfy your need for retail therapy. Look for more jobs. Feel productive.

Step 14: Go home and eat a lot of junk food with your best friend. Talk about life. Realize that you’re handling this “like, way better” than you ever thought you would if this situation had arose.

Step 15: Spend the entire next day dusting. Yes, even the trim around the floorboards. Yes, even the back of the TV. Dust everything. You’ll sneeze a lot, but you’ll feel accomplished.

Step 16: Decide you want to get that tattoo you’ve been considering for a while. Book an appointment. (Later, your appointment will be canceled by your artist and you’ll panic and take it as some sort of sign or something because you believe in signs now.)

Step 17: Figure out how to file for unemployment. The website will tell you to file right away. When you try, it’ll tell you you need to wait 5 days. Think about how this feels like a metaphor for your entire life.

Step 18: Apply to another job, and realize that it will all be OK. Probably.