I Lost My Job and It Might Be the Best Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

Two years ago I was celebrating leaving my job of nearly nine years at a nonprofit publishing house and finally going corporate. I was riding high and making more money at a large, for-profit publishing house, working remotely full-time and generally kicking ass. It was the shit. Aaaaand then I lost my job.

Sad trombone.

Kitty dropped the news during our coronavirus article blitz. And I’m honestly glad she did, because it saved me the struggle of deciding to pull the trigger on telling you all. For some reason I’ve been too… ashamed? Embarrassed? Afraid? Feeling hypocritical? Emotionally stunted???

There’s a reason it’s taken me a few months to write this article, even if I don’t yet understand what that reason is. Clearly I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to process about how I lost my job. So let’s get with the processing.

Building the bridge you’d rather burn

It’s kind of hard to keep up my normal “lol the world is burning pass the whiskey and keep fiddling” tone with this one. Humor is a wonderful coping mechanism, and while I’m still going to try to make you guys laugh… there wasn’t much laughter when this all went down.

In fact, there were tears.

I was laid off on a Friday, and asked to work for one more week. (Who does this!?) It was a miserable, surreal week to say the least. Two totally different reactions dueled for control of my mind.

One Piggy was determined to take the high road. After all, I’ve dedicated my career and education to the publishing industry! I care about my authors, and I care about the books I work on. The remaining staff were overworked, and I held zero animosity for them. I wanted to soften the blow by handing all my books and projects off as gently as I’d hand off a sleeping newborn baby.

The other Piggy wanted to say “FUCK YOU, MAKE ME” and slam the door on my way out. Being terminated was bad enough; my soon-to-be-ex-employer rubbed big chunks of kosher salt in the wound by running me absolutely ragged. They basically behaved like an evil queen in a fairy tale: scattering a sack of grain in the garden, and commanding me to pick it up before the sun rose. This ill-conceived final week made me live in the agony of my humiliation and disappointment.

It sucked ass. Of course it put me in a Trogdor state of mind.

My profession is my identity

For almost twelve years, book publishing has defined not only my professional life, but a large part of my personal life. There’s a certain cachet that comes with announcing “I’m an editor.” The job has a perceived glamour, a prestige, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get off on it.

Which is why it was so fucking heartbreaking to get kicked out. When my coworkers assumed I was leaving because I’d gotten a better job elsewhere, I didn’t correct them.

Not only did I work at a publishing house by day, but I’m a freelance editor by night! Everyone around me knows that this is part of who I am, that I take pride in my work! It’s the only work I’ve ever done in my adult life.

More than that: it’s a competitive industry. Every year I counsel young, aspiring publishing professionals at a nearby university on how to break into the field. I’ve mentored interns and built a side business out of my publishing expertise. It doesn’t pay well… but it sure makes me feel good.

So who the fuck am I if I’m not an editor at a publishing house?

No seriously: this was one of my first thoughts when I lost my job. And I fucking panicked.

I sacrificed too much

In hindsight, I should have seen the writing on the wall. The company—and the publishing industry in general—is in trouble. I’ll spare you the boring lecture on falling book profits and the evils of a certain bajillion dollar corporation (hint: their name rhymes with Shmamazon) and just say that the company I worked for was less successful than some in adjusting to a changing marketplace.


My boss—the woman who hired me—left a year after I got there. She went on maternity leave and basically never came back. With her left her vision, the mission for which she’d hired me. And in her place stepped up a neurotic focus on profit and anxieties about keeping the business afloat.

At the same time, our assistant editor left the company. So we were down two essential staff members and asked to accomplish the same amount of work as a department. I had been hired to do X… and suddenly I was required to also do Y and Z… and then A, B, and C to boot.

We all worked doubly hard. Despite personal promises to the contrary, I found myself working in the evenings. I was stressed, my anxiety went through the roof, and I was ordered to prioritize books based on their profitability, rather than innovation or quality. There was no room for errors, and certainly not for imagination.

Unsurprisingly, keeping up became a logistical improbability. And that just added to the stress.

My biggest regret

In the late fall, my husband and I were literally offered the opportunity of a lifetime: rafting the Grand Canyon.

To raft the Grand Canyon, you must literally win the lottery. A friend had waited twelve years to get a permit, and he could take whoever he wanted. The schedule was nonnegotiable. It would be a three-week-long expedition, and during that time we’d have no connection to the outside world.

As you all know, I am the crunchier Bitch, apt to hug trees and climb big rocks with regularity. Not only are outdoor adventures a big part of my personal life, but it was also literally my job to publish books on outdoor adventure and travel. I didn’t have three weeks of vacation time saved, but surely my employer would make an exception under the circumstances!

So I wrote a four-page proposal for how the expedition would benefit my work. In it, I laid out multiple plans for how I could make up the time by working weekends, pitched multiple books that could be made from the trip, identified a half dozen existing books I could personally revise at no extra cost to the company, and drew up sample questions for market research I could perform with my fellow rafters.

My proposal was denied.

As was my appeal. And another appeal after that.

I was told I could skip the trip and keep my job… or quit for the adventure of a lifetime.

A rock and a hard place

Writing about it, I still feel like a spoiled child denied an ice cream cone. I was upset. My husband was going one way or another, and the idea of him having this experience without me pained us both.

But I didn’t think I could lose my job. I’m nowhere near as close to financial independence as Kitty is. I was afraid to take the chance, to call their bluff. More than that: I knew how stressed and overworked everyone on my team was. I felt enormous guilt at the idea of leaving them high and dry while I sailed rafted off into the sunset to see one of the great wonders of the world from a perspective few humans ever experience.

So I stayed home. I chose my job over my passion.

I buried myself in work while my husband and friends savored the kind of adventure that drives my yearning for financial independence.

And I worried that I’d made the wrong choice.

It was the wrong choice

At the end of January, I lost my job anyway. I sacrificed a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for a single month of employment.

And yes. I fucking regret it.

No matter how emotionally invested I was in my work, to a corporate bureaucracy I was merely another cog in the machine. No doubt the same people who denied my proposal, claiming I couldn’t be spared for those three weeks, were the ones who crossed my name off a list when it came time to lay people off. They probably didn’t even remember the connection.

Your company is not your family

If you take nothing else away from my story, remember this: your employer is not your friend. Your company is not your family.

Your happiness and future are neither their concern nor their priority. You matter to them to the extent that you make them profitable. There is a literal dollar amount defining your worth to the company. And silly things like personal dreams and once-in-a-lifetime adventures matter not one whit to that bottom line, let alone the health and joy of an individual employee.

So banish any guilt about disappointing your employer or letting them down in favor of your personal happiness and well-being. Don’t waste your loyalty on the person or corporate entity signing your paycheck. Lord knows they have no loyalty to you.

Thus endeth the lesson.

The long, dark night of the soul career

You guys know I struggle with anxiety. And losing my job shoved me into a full-blown panic attack.

I held my shit together for the phone call with my boss, my boss’s boss, and an HR representative. I think I even cracked some jokes. Because I am a bad-ass Bitch who takes no prisoners and who will not display weakness in front of her enemies… and who drinks to excess and cries herself to sleep once she’s alone.

In this, at least, I understand I’m normal. Studies show that job loss can lead to depression, anxiety, a loss of self-worth, anger issues, and overwhelming grief. I checked aaaaaalll them boxes is in the days and weeks following my termination!

Finding immediate freelance work, qualifying for unemployment insurance, and assuring myself that I could still pay the damn mortgage certainly helped with these symptoms… but it wasn’t an instant cure.

The stages of grief exist for a reason: you can’t rush through them. You have to let the process happen over time. And as much as I wish I could’ve dispensed with the grieving, done my hair toss, checked my nails, and felt good as hell… I couldn’t escape my feelings that easily.

I can admit it now, though it wasn’t easy at the time. What I was feeling was grief. And it hurt like a motherfucker.

On top of that, I was angry. No, scratch that: I was mad as hell.

I swung back and forth between blinding rage at what I had gone through and utter despondency and feelings of inadequacy. A bubbling volcano about to erupt…

… and a howling cavern filled with a giant ice sculpture of the words “YOU DESERVE THIS.”

Practicing what I preach

Here at Bitches Get Riches, we’re constantly hounding you guys to have a backup plan: get a side gig, save an emergency fund, keep your resume dusted off and polished for the right opportunity!

And while usually I’m terrible at taking my own advice, this time I actually followed through!

While the fear of leaving a job without another one lined up caused me to make a mistake I’ll regret pretty much forever… it turns out I was much more financially prepared to lose my job than I thought.


Not only did I have a healthy emergency fund, but I had a thriving side gig as a freelancer. I was well connected within the industry and able to immediately reach out to other publishers for freelance gigs. Sure, the pay comes on an erratic schedule and isn’t nearly as comfortingly stable as working for a full-time salary… but I realized that I was going to be fine for a while.

My husband’s nonprofit allowed me to get on his health insurance plan for a little extra every month. And even though a nonprofit’s health insurance leaves a lot to be desired, it’s still better than no health insurance at all!

On top of all this, my lifestyle is set up to easily absorb a major loss of income. I live extremely frugally. I paid off my student loans and auto loan years ago and militantly avoid racking up consumer debt. And I happily bike, walk, or take public transit instead of driving, and live in an area with most of the essentials close by.

Articles like this one from Money Crashers began to make me feel like I was not only lucky, but privileged to be fucking fired given my situation.

We even refinanced our mortgage last fall, lowering our monthly payments significantly. Truly, I am greatly privileged to have such a sturdy job loss safety net. But it’s one I built myself, and I do not take it for granted.

So when once the thought of losing my job had filled me with panic… I realized that through researching for this very blog, I’d placed myself in a position of knowledge and power for not only a temporary job loss, but for a rigorous job search.

So thanks, Past Piggy! You did your girl a favor.

What’s next for me?

No srsly: What the fuck is next for me?

Kitty and I have always said that we want BGR to be our full-time jobs. Now, having a coblogger is almost always load-lighteningly awesome… but it comes with the unfortunate reality that we have to make twice as much money for us to do it on a full-time basis.

Kitty will get there much faster than me. It’s just math: she’s made six figures annually for years. I worked a full-time job, freelanced on the side, and still never came close to that amount. She’s close to hitting major financial goals that would make a pay cut possible. I am not.

So now, without a full-time job, the decision has very suddenly been made for me. Three roads diverge in this shitty wood:

1. Being my own boss

In addition to my freelance editing work, I’ve kind of fallen into a new business: I’m sort of a literary agent? Scratch that, I’m definitely a literary agent!

I interned with a literary agency early in my career. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do on my own. As a sector of the publishing industry, it utilizes all my strengths: building relationships with authors, macro- to micro-level editing of manuscripts, coaching authors through the writing and publishing process, reviewing book proposals, negotiating contracts, and advocating for my clients.

It also has the benefit of being something entirely self-created. I’m not working for anyone else. I’m building a business from the ground up, on my own terms.

But like any small business, it takes a while to get it off the ground and profitable. I have three clients, but there’s a lot of work between us and a paycheck.

In the meantime, I’m editing for other publishers and private authors. And this pay is more immediate and assured. But I’d be lying if I said the idea of being a full-time literary agent, prioritizing the authors I represent and working on my own terms, didn’t appeal to me a whole helluva lot.

2. Seeking full-time work at another publisher

There’s a certain amount of sense in sticking with what you know. I’ve worked in the acquisitions departments of publishing houses for a dozen years. I’m heckin’ good at it. I’m qualified to do it. I speak the language and I’m well-connected within the industry. My reputation precedes me, if you will.

Since I lost my job I’ve spoken with recruiters and have entered the hiring process at two different publishing houses. Of course, I didn’t anticipate a Black Swan event like the coronavirus putting hiring freezes on so many companies. But it’s nice to know that at least in certain circles, I’m a hot commodity.

Getting a full-time job doing the thing I’ve done before is my easiest path back to financial stability. And yet… I’m approaching this process with surprisingly few fucks to give.

I’m bursting with that BDE (Big Dick Energy) where interviews and offers are concerned. I’ve flat-out told recruiters that they can do their best but I ain’t waiting on them to deliver me an offer on a silver platter. This Bitch has ambitions.

Safe to say I’ve recovered from my crippling identity crisis. I ain’t taking an offer unless it’ll significantly improve my lifestyle above and beyond what I can do working for myself.

3. Leaving my industry behind

I know now that if I’m going to stay in book publishing, it’s going to be on my own terms. Literally just decided that!

No more working for someone else’s publishing house, scraping low margins from a slow-to-innovate business model. No more making half the income as what I could earn with my skills elsewhere, in more profitable industries.

In short: I don’t want to move backwards. I’m done sacrificing too much and earning too little. I’m done making myself sick with worry while squeezing in a few more hours of work after dinner. My profession can no longer be central to my identity. I can no longer choose a corporation’s profits over my own happiness.

And that’s… really hard, you guys.

I feel like I’m grieving. Not my job, but my identity. My vocation.

Maybe I’m silly to think this way. I loved being a publisher. But the publishing industry clearly doesn’t love me. What do you call a relationship where one partner works long hours for low pay and little approval? You call it abusive. And while that might be a little dramatic when it comes to my career, I think I’m finally willing to admit that I don’t have to put up with that kind of treatment.

If I’m going to work for someone else, it’s going to be for a company that pays competitive salaries, values innovation, and offers a chance for real growth. And if I’m going to get a full-time job at a business that’s not my own, it’s highly likely not going to be in the industry I’ve dedicated my entire career to thus far.

So if I’m going to work full-time for someone else, it probably means leaving publishing. It means finding a new career path, transitioning out of the field my first education and decade of working trained me for.

It’s scary. But I’m not scared anymore.

Moving on

In the few weeks between when I lost my job and barricading myself in my coronavirus quarantine fortress, I spent a lot of time moodily playing guitar. Because I am just that stereotype of a melodramatic open mic act. Please don’t judge me.

I played angry songs, breakup songs. Lots of Alanis Morissette. Singing about fellatio at the top of your lungs for a live audience is just a super gratifying coping mechanism, y’know?

But lately, my music has changed. It’s mellowed. I’m not using it to cope anymore, just to unwind. The anger and grief have all but dissipated, and in their place is… bemusement.

It’s like I look back at the time immediately following my termination and feel a little silly for my extreme emotions, my desperate reaction. I know my feelings were valid and that I needed to feel them. But I’ve moved passed them to the point of acceptance.

Getting laid off was a thing that happened to me, but it does not define me. It was a step along the journey that is my career. And ultimately, I’ve realized two things:

  1. My career is not the most important part of my identity.
  2. This might just be the best worst thing that has ever happened to me.

Hit it, girl.

55 thoughts to “I Lost My Job and It Might Be the Best Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me”

  1. wow I’m heated as hell about the grand canyon thing. give me names, I’m in the mood to drop a People’s Elbow. better in store for you, Pigs. I’m sure of it. Xx

  2. I needed this immensely. I’ve allowed my job to become my identity, and I need the reminder that they ain’t my family.
    Plus, getting insider thoughts on the publishing industry is helpful, because that’s where I was/am considering making my way into…

  3. Piggy: I am so excited to see this next chapter for you!! It’s been 11 years ago (this week, actually) that I was laid off from the job I thought I was going to do for my whole career. I’d gone to school to be a City Planner and had dreamed of that job ever since playing SimCity in 6th grade!
    When I was laid off, I was not in a good place (geographically or financially) for several months and wound up struggling for 2.5 years through unemployment/underemployment. But it’s that experience that led me to the personal finance and Financial Independence worlds. And now I am so far ahead of where I’d be if I was still in the job that I had initially loved but it devolved and was sucking the life out of me.
    Big teddy bear hugs to you, and let me know if you ever need anything!

    1. Thank you, Josh!!! Your friendship as always warms the cockles of my bitchy lil heart. And so do your hugs! In a weird way, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this situation and that it happens to people who go on to be successful and happy all the time.

  4. Piggy, this post is incredibly inspiring for me. I’m so sorry you went through that, but so thankful to you for passing on the wisdom and clarity you’ve gained. I’m dealing with a bad situation at my workplace. (Direct boss doesn’t want to train people, develop talent, or promote people because then he has to hire new people and “that’s a lot of work;” and he’s directly violated three company policies now–one of which is actually state law.) For an interim position I got at the start of the year that was supposed to launch me further into finance by year’s end, I’m suddenly finding my department is a dead end–and I can’t transfer to a different one because my boss gets final say and (as mentioned) he hates hiring replacements. I’ve got 1 last recourse to try, and I’m putting my employment at risk to do it, so I’ve been really debating myself: is it worth it to have this conversation with this powerful boss’s boss’s boss lady?

    But you’re absolutely right: groveling to my job isn’t who I am. I have to look out for me. The company and my boss don’t care about me. I have to care about me or no one else will. And thanks to the freedom of a divorce, relearning my life since then, and the really good advice on this blog, I have the buffer to deal with negative fallout. I can handle a few months unemployed if it comes to it. And yeah, this isn’t a good time economically-speaking to be unemployed. But who am I? Who do I want to be? That person needs looking after. Her dreams need to be protected. That’s my true job.

    I finally made the decision to have that confrontation. And it’s thanks to you. xoxoxo

  5. Hi, longtime reader, first time commenter. Boy, did this bring on the flashbacks. I, too, spent most of my career in book publishing, and it was everything I ever wanted to do. I started as editorial assistant at a small but mighty satellite of an international juggernaut, and stayed there for 15 years, climbing the ranks, feeling closer to my colleagues and authors than to my own family at times, even as the strings tightened and the corporate expectations got more weighty. I survived a few rounds of layoffs, but eventually my number came up; I went through the whole series of emotions you describe, with an extra side of wistfulness and a painful longing to get back into the industry and my cozy spot in it.
    Fast-forward four years and two unsuccessful attempts in publishing (another layoff and a wretched job that I had to quit to save my life), and I finally discovered the wonder of the publishing-adjacent sector. Turns out there’s a whole lot of companies, both profit and non, that need people with the skills with language, project management, and author coddling that I learned as a book editor. Although it lacks the glamour of working with books, it also lacks the daily crushing of ideals that’s inherent in the current world of publishing, where everything is subject to the almighty profit margin. As I watch my friends still in publishing go through the joyless slog and worry about how long they’ll be employed, I feel so lucky to have enjoyed the good times and eventually escaped the hangover.
    As a fan of your writing and a fellow publishing traveler, I feel really invested in wishing you all the luck and success in navigating the present moment. Get out there and show those bitches what they’re missing!

      1. Hey Piggy, I’m the publications manager at a (surprisingly well funded) nonprofit think tank. I’m actually in production (after a whole career in editorial), and I proofread our reports on public policy, manage the schedule, and take care of the department odds & ends like invoices, translations, and so on. I’ve had to accept having no ability or authority to manage the authors or shape the content, but after my earlier total commitment to my job and company, I’m completely fine with the distance. It prevents me from agonizing over shit I can’t control, and keeps me from getting too pulled in to inevitable office drama, which my boss tells me she really values.
        So basically I still get to read super interesting stuff, mingle with very smart and passionate people, use my hard-won knowledge of keeping projects on track, and feel like I’m benefiting the world. Not bad!
        I suspect you’re not in the SF bay area, but I recommend checking out a couple organizations based here: Bay Area Women in Publishing, and Publishing Professionals Network (full disclosure: I’m on the board of this one); although they tend to focus on the local (apparently The World is local these days), they’re both great places to connect with other recovering publishers. The bay area publishing scene has been decimated in the past decade, so you’ll find lots of sympathy and advice for the next step.

        1. That sounds heckin awesome. I’m so glad you got to keep doing your passion even outside of the industry.
          And thank you for the referral! I like the term “recovering publishers”…

  6. Wow, that’s tough. Hang in there kid, you are loaded with talent and are going to do fine. The lesson that company has taught you has a lot of value in addition to the pain inflicted. Companies do see employees as tools and as interchangeable so they’ll toss almost anyone on the trash heap if it suits them. There is only two ways to get around that, either run your own thing, like you are doing now. Or to find a job that is both critically important to a corporation in terms of the amount of money you make them and to convince them that you are so talented that if you leave they’ll never find an equivalent replacement. Then the power shifts to you because they become terrified that you might leave.

  7. I feel like this is that moment where you’re going to look back in a few years and say “Wow, thank God that happened.” If you’re half as bad-ass in real life as you are on the interwebs, big things are coming. xo

  8. OMG Thank you for this! This article definitely came at a great time for me. In March (literally days before Corona shut everything down) I got fired from the company I’d worked at for nearly 12 years, 3 months into a promotional opportunity that was, well…crap. I was supervising workers doing the exact roles I’d done for the first 5 years of my career, and in the time since I’d moved on to other locations, their standards of quality descended to literally none and they were adamant that what we used to do was unattainable. Which it wasn’t, I DID it for 5+ years! Even people who were still there from my first stint agreed that the quality had declined. When I was hired, the manager liked my vision for change, and knowing I had experience from sister facilities, was really looking forward to me bringing these skills to make the team better. Then when I actually tried to do it, I was wrong. TL:DR, I got canned for wanting “too much” out of my employees, when what I wanted was just SOME semblance of pride in the job.

    But the timing on this article is perfect, because I believe I’m reaching the end of my grieving period, and trying to figure out the next step. I worked for this company for 12 of my 15 years working, it’s what I went to school for (food/nutrition management), and I’m a little lost in figuring out what to do next. Part of me says I should use my skills to get a job in the same/similar field, and the other part of me says F that, I’m over it! But, I still don’t know WHAT to do instead.

    That’s my biggest question right now. I don’t have much of a nest egg, or even a desire to go back to school for anything more than a class or two (certainly not a degree worth), but I don’t want to / can’t afford to start at the very bottom again. Do you have any recommendations for trying to get into a new field when your previous experience was all in something else? Secondary question – how to go about explaining this bad job scenario when applying/interviewing for new positions?

  9. Hi Piggy! Same thing as Becky, first time commentor but long time follower.

    I quit my job a month before lockdown took place, and let me agree, hindsight is a bitch. Originally, I worked in an industry I had no doubts about getting hired in. You know, Travel and Tourism.

    And on top of that, I’m a Canadian living in Scotland, so I’m isolated from my family. I had some money saved up from work, which covered my rent until the end of May, but I’ve had to pull the trigger and am moving back home, and by the time I’m in a situation to come back my visa will be expired.

    However! New adventures, new pages. I have plenty of money back home, and going to live with the fam (I’m 25 for context). I’m looking at this as time to learn a language for my next adventure (whenever that happens) and maybe to write the ‘next great literary novel’. Maybe a memoir of my time living abroad in Ireland, then in Scotland.

    So, this is my long winded way of saying it sucks, both missing the Grand Canyon and losing your job right before a pandemic, but we all believe in you! We all are going through bad times, but we’re all in this together!

    *Cue Highschool Musical song*

  10. Thank you so much for this article! So much of my identity for the last 12 years has been wrapped up in being a librarian. I worked at a library, then was in school to be a professional librarian. Heck, librarian was the first job I ever wanted as a kid! My failure to find a job in a library after graduating has really taken a toll on my self worth. Thanks for the reminder that I am not my job and that looking outside my original chosen profession isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

  11. Holy shit. You have had an intense few months. I’ll say this – you worked through that shit pretty quickly (especially considering we are in the middle of a pandemic) and it sounds like you have a lot of clarity about the direction you’ll go and the terms of it.

    I had an opportunity to go to Europe for a couple weeks over a Xmas holiday (everything paid but my plane ticket) early on in my career but since I was the low bitch on the seniority list I didn’t get Xmas break off (just the actual federal holidays) so they said no. I just took no for an answer and didn’t have the courage to say “well I quit then“… but it did make me super clear on pivoting in the direction where other ppl didn’t get to dictate my schedule.

    I’m kinda stoked to follow which direction you go. cheers !

    1. Thanks so, so much Liz! That fucking SUCKS about your missed European adventure. But I’m glad it led you to the same conclusion as me: life is too short to miss the important stuff for somebody else’s bottom line.

  12. Thanks for writing this Piggy. There is so much baggage and shame wrapped around getting fired/laid off and it’s so understandable to grieve. I’m inspired that you’re setting your sights on other things and breaking up with your ‘abusive’ job. You DO deserve better!!! Get that money girl!!! Excited to see what you do next– no matter what I know it will be awesome.

  13. Piggy,

    Thanks for a great and heartfelt essay. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write, but maybe it helped with working through what you’ve been going through.

    I’m in academia, but I think there is a lot of parallels. Peoples’ sense of self gets all knotted up with their profession. A life of the mind, working for a greater purpose, having a positive impact on the world, and all that stuff. And employers take advantage (or at least don’t care enough to not take advantage) when it suits them by asking you to do extra work, to take less pay than you ought to get, etc.

    It’s a shit situation, that’s for sure. But it’s also a great career, so I don’t know. *shrug*

  14. Hi Piggy, Thank you for having the courage to write an article like this. It’s brutally honest about your experience and you should feel proud to have written such great content. I feel like I can relate to your story in many ways. I moved from the UK to Australia at the start of March, finally got a job at the end of May and then got let go on Monday (6th), after being overworked and mistreated. I’m glad you are pushing your way through a bad situation and seeing the light on the other side of it. Perhaps most importantly you have maintained your self-confidence in your skills, experience and personality. With this attitude, I have no doubt you will find success, however you choose to define it.

    1. Gaaaah, this is such a nice response, thank you Andrew! I didn’t feel particularly courageous writing it, but I’m glad I could give you something to read to let you know you’re not alone. Let yourself grieve and go through the emotional process. Things WILL get better!

  15. Thank you for sharing your story – my husband and I are in a pretty good place financially but I want to implement some more BGR-style ambition and hustle when it comes to saving etc – he’s complacent cos we’re easily living within our means but I have my eyes on the FI prize – or at least I want to feel 100% confident that I can quit a job on the spot if adequately provoked. Your story may well be the shining example that inspires him into action. It’s certainly inspired me. Best wishes for your next steps in these crazy crazy times

  16. I’ve been down on this road a few times and it hurts each time. The shame, anger, frustration that comes with it … oof, I feel you, Piggy! And I had all these thoughts too. My last job taught me to get over my fear of not having another job lined up. Like you I laid a good foundation to weather the storm well. I’ve got a few freelance gigs, a property that gives me rental income and no debt, so I count my blessings. Here with you and it’s so cool that you worked in publishing as I’m actually an author. 😉

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. It’s kind of nice to know I’m not alone, though I wish you hadn’t had to go through this experience too.
      Post a link to your book, fellow book nerd!

  17. Rejection hurts!!! Grieving is hard!!! Moving past layoff is hard!! But I’m glad you are on the other side of it now and driving your own way in your own terms!

    You go, girl! I’m sure you’ll be a rocking success in your new path! Good luck!

    Ohh! Maybe you can submit for another one of those rafting permits? Your time will absolutely come and this time, you don’t have to ask permission from anybody …

  18. Thank you for sharing. I got laid off 2 years ago. I knew things were bad but it still came as a shock. I’m boiling about the rafting. If that doesn’t drive home the need to pick good experiences over a bad situation and that your employer isn’t your friend I don’t know what is. I had an emergency fund when I got laid off and I decided to use it (along with unemployment) to get out of my home state so I applied all over the country. I’m so much happier at the new job and I’ve rebuilt my emergency fund since then. Take care of yourself and embrace that Give-No-Fucks-Energy.

    1. Oh I’m embracing it, sugar! I just wish the lesson wasn’t so painful. I literally leave the room when my husband tells people about the Grand Canyon trip…

  19. Hot damn, I love a good take-the-power-back story. Hard high five on the fact that our employers are not. our. friends. Glad to see a new path emerging.

  20. So, so, so true that we are disposable beings to our employers. I’ve learned that the hard way: no matter how many great things I do at work, one minor mistake can result in my termination. However, someone who’s “in” with management can make mistakes that literally compromise patient safety and face no consequences. It’s scary and sad. But I know it now and I’m glad I learned it sooner rather than later because it propelled me on this journey.

    You will be fine. I wish you the best, but you don’t need my well wishes. You’ve obviously done well in your industry and will be just fine! 😉

  21. I too went through a layoff after 10 years at a company (maybe a little worse since it was 2016 and there was no COVID-19 excuse). It changes you and I won’t downplay how hard of an identity shift it is. That being said, this will probably be one fo the greatest learning experiences you will ever have in your career, and once you have trudged though the forest of emotions and found your way again, you’ll have gained a priceless experience. keep your head up. This is when you find out who you really are.

    On a side note, I also missed out on rafting the Grand Canyon – not from a job loss but because I had to go to rehab for my addiction, but that’s a story for another day… hahaha. Let the regrets go. Other opportunities will arise. Best of luck in your next endeavors.

  22. I can only imagine how tough it was to write this, but your insight is going to help a lot of people. I switched jobs 3 years ago and at first felt so lost because I was no longer a chemist. My job was all consuming and took up SO MUCH space in my life, both in hours I worked in the lab and mental space. I woke up every day thinking about work and would come home and need a minimum of 30 min to decompress every day.

    I’m excited for you because although it was a shitty route to get where you are, now you will have so much damn space in your life!!! It’s going to get so much better 🙂 🙂 🙂

  23. “Your employer is not your friend. Your company is not your family.”, Yup, fully agree here it hit me like a ton of bricks in my previous day job! Everything was going fine and everyone happy for you and caring about whatever personal events (Grand Canyon or equivalents would have been a thing where my manager would have allowed me to go easily) but when the crisis in the sector hit, everyone was fighting for themselves and the love was over even if you have saved them millions,… A company is there to make profit out of you indeed!

  24. Such a powerful and relatable piece. I too was laid off from a job that I realized later had become a key part of my identity. Even though it was a “corporate restructuring” and I knew it had nothing to do with me, I could feel my cheeks get hot every time I told someone what happened. I reached so many of the same conclusions you did, that I had given far too much of myself to a company and they really didn’t deserve me. It is so important to prioritize oneself and not let a career become the be all, end all.

    One big positive that came out of it was greater empathy for others who lose their jobs. Prior to losing my job, a secret part of me always believed that the only people who got laid off were those who were “bad at their jobs”. Now I know how untrue that is, and how gentle to be towards others who may feel unwarranted shame, have financial/emotional distress, loss of identity and more. It also made me keenly aware as a Manager to give constructive feedback to employees, share if you can if things are not stable at the organization, and ensure if they are not performing well, to coach them and/or encourage them to start looking for a better fit elsewhere. Avoiding a shock of sudden dismissal should be avoided as much as possible.

    Best of luck as you start the next chapter!

  25. Oh my gosh, as a teacher who just got partially laid off I feel this so much. Last year was my first year of teaching (what a way to start a career, huh?). I busted my butt for five years to get my degree, and landed my dream job right out of college teaching high school and middle school choir. Then coronavirus hit, and it felt like it all suddenly got snatched away from me. No final concert, no spring musical. Then a couple weeks later, I got the call that I was being partially laid off and my salary was going from $35k to $14k.

    As a teacher, and especially as a new teacher, my career is a HUGE part of my identity. Between school and musical rehearsals, I was at the school 12 hours a day most days. Then to have none of that recognized, the opposite in fact, really stung. And I questioned whether I should stay. But I really do love my students, and maybe this can be an opportunity to try new things on the side.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m trying to make things work, and it really helps to know there are people out there in similar emotional situations with their careers. Good luck with everything! <3

  26. First, THANK YOU for writing this incredible piece. I appreciate you collecting your thoughts in hindsight. You’ve been through some trauma, and I am so glad you are in a good enough place to put it out there in the light for our benefit.

    You have just highlighted how essential it is for us all to figure out the line of “this much and NO MORE” for all paid employment. I have learned a lot in these last months about how much is asked of employees and how toxic it can be.

    Congrats on the pivot. Keep on going–you are amazing!

  27. As someone who was laid off twice in two years, I know how you feel, Piggy! The bright side of that particular cloud is that I ended up at a job with much better pay and benefits and have been able to learn more skills. (Not until after a few months of being unemployed, feeling terrible about myself and mad anxiety about no longer having an income!)

    Funnily enough, my goal for this year is actually to start a side hustle as a freelance copyeditor!

  28. I just got fired, and having this article and comments to come back to has been so comforting. Just starting to process the shame and anxiety knowing that other people have pushed through it too is so helpful to have right now.

  29. I just lost my author marketing/book cover design job with 1 week’s notice. I’m freaking the fuck out. I can’t think straight. Every time I let my mind sway from numbness, I’m slammed with panic, anger, embarrassment, shame, etc. and it’s making it very difficult to make big decisions quickly. I need to get my shit together. Anyway, thank you for your words of wisdom and sharing your experience, it certainly makes me feel less alone and it’s weirdly comforting to know you were as angry as I am now.

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