Leaning into Layoffs: An Anxious Girl Awakens

My knee-jerk reaction when I get bad news is typically to panic, jump to thinking about the worst case scenario, and impulsively begin making plans for said worst case. I was laid off yesterday (September 6, 2023) and remained eerily calm when I received the initial email alerting everyone that there would be changes. At that moment it still wasn’t one-hundred percent clear to me or anyone else exactly whose roles would be impacted, but something told me this was my time. I didn’t wait for the follow-up emails and calendar invites to role in – I started writing down action steps. I felt this coming and perhaps that’s why I seemed calm and collected from the perspective of everyone I spoke to that day. Most importantly though, I remained convicted.

The truth is, I’ve been confused for several months about where my life is headed. As such, I’ve spent the majority of this year iterating on several ideas, but mostly keeping them to myself. As a former classroom teacher, I never truly thought that I would do anything else with my life. The moment I resigned and put classroom teaching behind me, I was terrified. I had no idea who I was or what I was capable of outside of my teacher identity – even with a higher paying tech role waiting for me! In March 2022, I started an exciting role in Software Implementation at a small startup and resolved to never look back. There was one place that I wasn’t looking though, and eventually that would catch up to me. 

A generous salary increase, unlimited PTO, and location independence were music to this tired teacher’s ears. I was hungry for this new start and naturally, I didn’t stop to think about where I wanted to be in 3, 5, or 10 years. I also didn’t know that I needed to have those answers already. It wasn’t until I started to feel like I wasn’t learning anything new or being challenged that these questions came up again. I found myself regularly pondering about what I wanted out of my next role and what I wanted out of life. I thought about what I wanted to wake up doing each day. What did I care about most and what was I passionate about? What would bring me joy? These were the important questions and that’s when I realized that my desire to write more and share more of my story is what felt most inspiring to me: my battles with an eating disorder, learnings from therapy, how I’m healing childhood wounds, dealing with touch starvation for a number of years, my transition from teacher to tech, my experience living in and traveling to different countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe…

So again, when I received the initial email that stated there was some restructuring happening, I didn’t feel anxious or panicked. Instinctively I knew that the time was up for playing small. 

I’ve been creative since I was a little girl, but unfortunately I never felt safe or confident enough to express my authentic self. For a number of reasons, as a child I simply did as I was told, I shrunk myself, and I obliged. I could sing, write, maybe even act, but I kept all of those things hidden because showing it off required a sense of confidence that had not been instilled in me. Shrinking was what I knew how to do better than anything else, so I stayed there. I’ve been wanting to kill that part of me that’s always felt like I don’t deserve good things and that success and joy are reserved for everyone else but me. The calm and the introspection are an indicator to me that I’m more aware of my power than ever these days. Angst and panic are usually my default because I’ve lived [for too long] in the belief that I don’t have options – classic scarcity mindset. Today, I know that while this layoff is scary, it’s the wake-up call I didn’t know I needed.

2 thoughts on “Leaning into Layoffs: An Anxious Girl Awakens

  1. I’m really proud of you. Looking forward to learning the answers to the questions you asked yourself, and thanks for sharing this stop on your journey with us.

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