Three months ago, I was laid off from my job of 14 years as a writer/producer for a global media company. This did not come as a surprise and I completely understood why the company let me go. We had undergone a merger, work groups were consolidated, and I was one of many people who were no longer needed. It was business. I completely understood.
Initially, I felt relief and excitement to start fresh. Working on television series wasn’t challenging me much anymore. I wanted to learn new skills, and felt overdue for a career change. But I was way too comfortable with my managers, teammates, pay, and benefits to have ever left the company on my own. With the decision made for me, and a severance package to help ease the transition, I was given the opportunity to try something new.
Then, suddenly all my positivity evaporated and I couldn’t seem to get out of bed. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. My entire body ached and I was gripped with fear. When I finally became sick of sitting in my own self-pity, I left the house and tried to put on a happy face. But was still plagued by a fog of sadness and I had no idea how to fix it.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of feelings, especially fear, sadness, and all the other yucky ones. But numbing them out with addictive behaviors wasn’t an option. Drinking wine all weekend or binge buying online was not going to fix this. So, I had to figure out a way to feel better and get focused, fast. But how?
I sought feedback from a wise and trusted mentor who told me, with absolute conviction, that I must take the following steps to feel better: (1) sit in my feelings and really feel them because pain can teach us important lessons if we let it; and (2) share these feelings with a trusted friend, then let them go because holding on to negative emotions keeps us sick on the inside. Then, and only then, would I begin to heal and figure out what my next career move would be.
Honestly, this was not what I wanted to hear at all, but I didn’t know what else to do.
So, I started journaling about my feelings (which is how this blog post initially started). Writing it all down helped me realize how fearful I was about my financial future. I was terrified of becoming destitute. I also feared losing all that I had achieved professionally and never being able to find another job that challenged me.
Now that I had identified what I was truly feeling, I opened up to trusted friends and mentors. I shared a lot during this time and they listened with compassion. Saying my truth made me feel less afraid and more positive about my future. Slowly something powerful happened: a realization that I was going to be okay. I just needed to trust and believe everything was going to work out.
I wanted to expand my future roles beyond a writer/producer, but felt trapped by the title. Fortunately, during the past six years at my former job, I was creating a firm foundation to take a different career path. When I wasn’t working on television series, I was creating digital content for the brands’ websites and social media platforms. Digital content creation and branding is incredibly fulfilling because it requires me to think beyond the creative and also focus on strategy, research, branding, and analytics. I realized this was what I wanted to pursue.
Right before I was laid off, I created branding videos for an author who also needed help with her digital marketing campaign for an upcoming book release. So I joined her team as a freelancer the day after I was laid off. I’m learning so much about digital marketing for the publishing industry. I’m also writing blogs and creating content that’s very different from what I’ve done before. It’s a new and rewarding experience that never would have happened if I had not been laid off.
Also, a local business owner asked if I could help create content for her social media sites, along with selling products on Instagram. It’s another exciting opportunity to learn more about utilizing social media platforms in direct to consumer sales.
I’m starting to believe the quote “when one door closes, another opens,” and in my case, two doors very quickly. This layoff and freelance experience is giving me time to evaluate the type of career I really want in the future. It’s also helping me better understand what I can really bring to the table as a new employee.
So today, I’m making a conscious choice to not let my future be filled with fear and sadness over being laid off. It’s a new beginning and I’m so grateful to the company who let me go because they provided a soft landing for me financially and years of invaluable experience that I can carry into the future.
The next chapter of my professional life doesn’t feel scary anymore. How cool is that?
ANGELA TEAGUE BIOGRAPHY
Angela Teague has spent the past 5 years creating convergent, digital, and social media content for brands such as HGTV, Travel Channel, and DIY Network. She also has over 15 years experience writing and producing television series and specials for these brands.