Redundancy can be one of the most stressful things that can happen to you in your working life. The blow to your confidence, as well as the hit to your finances, can trigger emotions such as hopelessness, anxiety, panic, shock and denial. Unfortunately, many of us will experience redundancy at some point in our careers.
It may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel just after you’ve been handed your P45, but remember — it isn’t your fault. You may be hurt, disappointed — even angry — and probably panicking about how you’re going to pay your rent, but there might be a silver lining.
Being laid off can be an opportunity for change, growth and new beginnings. It can open your eyes to possibilities that you may never have considered had you stayed in your current role. That side hustle you’ve been putting off for so long? Career change? Why not start now?
Ahead, five kick-ass women who have been made redundant describe their experiences, and how they all bounced back…
I had just turned 30 when I found out that I was being laid off and the online magazine I loved — and was deputy editor of — was to close. Being called into a room and told that all this was to end was incredibly sad. Nothing prepared me for it.
It’s easy to take these things personally but my mum gave me the best advice: “This is just business.” It wasn’t about me, it was a business decision being made by a huge global company.
It felt like a horrible break-up but after two weeks of agonising over it I decided to take the plunge and take redundancy. I was in shock for about a month but I picked myself up and took my career to the next level. In many ways, it was the best thing I ever did even though it was fucking terrifying at the time.
My first redundancy knocked my confidence as I always thought there had to be something wrong with me to be let go, rather than identifying it as an industry issue. It was tough and I worried about how I was going to pay my bills.
At the time I was miserable and earning a pittance. I felt emotionally abused at work. I always brushed over how bad it actually was because I needed to stay in the job to pay rent. But when I was made redundant, it was a real moment of clarity.
It helped me deal with my next two redundancies better and I was able to separate myself from the situation. It’s a horrible thing to happen and can affect anyone but in hindsight it was for the best.
I’d been working for a startup for over six years when they started talking about a restructure. I took redundancy instead of reapplying for my role. I was terrified as I hadn’t been out of work for 11 years since I graduated and the pay barely covered me for a month.
It was emotional and one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I wasn’t sleeping, and my family were worried about how I’d financially cope. I suffered some of the worst anxiety and panic attacks of my life.
But I knew it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t happy and it would have been like staying in a relationship you just know isn’t working. And I’m so proud of everything I’ve done in the last six months — all my freelance work, writing for the biggest media companies and brands, connecting with new people and diversifying my skill set.
My redundancy taught me to be braver. Throwing myself out of my comfort zone tested me but now I worry less when a new opportunity comes along and I think it’s given me more confidence. If I hadn’t made the leap I would have been stable but unhappy, and not learning anything new.
A couple of years ago I was made redundant. It came one Friday afternoon and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The words “We’re letting you go” don’t really sink in until you’re alone in your room at night, trying to fix your CV with tears falling down your face.
My redundancy made me realise how unhappy I was with my job. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was having a huge effect on my mental and physical health. I became apathetic, uninterested in anything and stressed. But life goes on. Employment comes and goes. You begin to realise you need to be selfish.
I can happily say I’m content. Being laid off was the best thing that happened to me because it taught me resilience, to be selfish and to go after what I want in life.
I was told my role was at “risk of redundancy”. I knew what was coming. As I left the office, I felt like I wanted to cry — not because I was sad but because I was relieved. I hated that job and I was relieved that I could leave the toxic environment and do what I wanted. I said to myself: It’s done now, I’m finally leaving. The question was, where did I want to go?
I decided to go freelance, which has opened so many doors for me. It’s been nine months since my redundancy and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It gave me the push I needed, helped me face my insecurities and build my confidence again.
It’s been the highlight of my career and pushed me in the right direction. I’m certainly still stressed and anxious but at least it’s by my own rules.
*Some names have been changed
Originally published at https://www.refinery29.com.