How a Layoff in My Mid-Twenties Gave Me the Jumpstart I Needed

“You are good enough.”

I sat across the table from a friend in a dainty coffee shop on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Her words reverberated across the room, bouncing off the table, clanging across the window chimes, spinning around the revolving door back to slap me in the middle of the face.

Good enough? Am I really?

In that moment and in the weeks leading up to it, questioning my worth had become the norm. I sat there, hair in a messy ponytail, wearing oversized sweatpants, clearly too underdressed for the swanky shop, pondering her words, the simplicity of which left me befuddled. A true moment of authenticity and profundity on a cool, February evening.

Two weeks prior I had been laid off from job, abruptly, unexpectedly and painfully. It was my first big girl job in L.A., an editor job at that. I was pursuing my passion of writing while living in the City of Angels. My dreams were coming true, until suddenly my train was derailed from the track. The dream I had been holding so dearly had been swept out from under me.

I was at a loss.

In the weeks and months post job layoff, I would learn enough lessons to write a book. Lessons about rejection, bouncing back, how a “no” isn’t always a bad thing, the importance of an emergency fund and the value of authentic friendships during hard times. In these lessons, there are some universal truths I have found that apply to any rejection, whether it be a job loss, a breakup, a “no” from a college or university or a friendship ending. Sometimes, the most painful events that seem like endings to a story are often the beginning of a new, better story.

1- Rejection forces you to reevaluate what’s important.

Prior to my job loss, I made a list of things I was passionate about as a part of my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to focus on the areas and subject matters that deeply mattered to me, things that excited me to wake up each morning, things I wanted so desperately to help change and make better, things that I would work on even if there was no income. I came back to this list after my layoff, and I quickly realized that perhaps losing my job was a chance to pursue a career path that was more authentic to my own passions. This season of my life has helped me to become reacquainted with the woman staring back at me in the mirror, what matters most to her and the kind of work she is most passionate about.

2- An unexpected turn can lead to unexpected opportunities.

In my time without a full-time job, I have decided to say “yes” more often. I say yes to things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do with a full-time job like going to museums, volunteering, taking on freelance work, trying out morning and afternoon workout classes and going on coffee dates with friends. Sometimes a closed door redirects you and opens you up to other opportunities and doors that may not have been available before.

3- Life’s hard realities not only act as teachers but help you to help others.

So many people have been where I have been before. So many people will be where I am standing once this is all a memory to me. At first I felt so much shame about losing my job. I told friends that I felt like I had gotten all A’s in adulthood and then all the sudden had been handed a D. However, I realize now that a job loss doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human, and if anything, it gives me empathy to understand other people struggling with rejection of any kind.

4- You realize where your value lies.

Sometimes, we hold onto things so tightly that they start to define us. When we lose them, we lose sight of who we are. We all desire love and success, but it is life’s greatest balancing act to not allow those things, what we do, the passions we have and the people we love, to define us.

What’s for me will be mine. I won’t have to beg, plead, bend or break for it. What and who is for me, will be, pure and simple. I have learned and am still learning to hold the things and people in my life with a loose grip. To embrace them but to not be defined by them. To not allow the absence of a thing or person to break me.

5- During life’s storm, your roots grow deeper.

I hate cliches, but they are typically accurate. As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” I am learning, though, that the rain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rain helps you grow, and when you are faced with adversity, it really shows you how strong you can be. I have been reminded of my own inner strength to keep pushing forward and to get back up.

Life is hard sometimes. I don’t think there any other way to put it. Sometimes, life just sucks. It deals you an unexpected hand, and it is up to you to make the most out of it. As I sit in this season of rain in my life, I am reminded that I am not defined by the things that I lose. I look out with hope, knowing the sun will come again.

This post originally appeared on Darling Magazine.

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