Last night, I was awakened by a call from a friend.
(Let’s back up for a second. It was about 11:06pm when I received the call. I had fallen asleep eight pages into A New Earth. When the phone rang not only did I have no idea where I was even though all the lights were still on but it took me some time to figure out what was making noise. Tell me, am I not the oldest twenty-three-year-old you’ve ever met? I guess my only saving grace is that evenings like this aren’t the norm.)
Anyway, I don’t usually receive calls that late so I had a feeling something was wrong… and unfortunately, I was right. My friend called to tell me she had been let go from her job.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would be counseling friends who had been laid off, the idea probably would have been inconceivable to me. But, sadly, it’s become all too real as the number of friends who have experienced this continues to grow.
To be honest, there’s nothing to be said that the person hasn’t already heard or told themselves… There’s the trite “don’t take it personally, it’s just the economy” and “look at this as an opportunity to re-evaluate what you want to do”. While both those statements are true, they don’t do much to reassure someone who is just worried about where they’ll get the money for their next rent check.
(And for this person specifically, I think her former employer handled the situation extremely poorly. Not only did they wait until the end of the day and fail to offer her any type of monetary assistance – at least pay the poor girl through the end of the week! – but also they didn’t volunteer to reach out to their contacts or offer to act as references.)
What I kept hearing during our conversation was how ashamed my friend was – she had never been fired from anything previously. This is the one thing I wish I could convince her of: getting laid off is NOT the same as being fired. Especially in this deep, widespread recession, lay offs continue to occur and I don’t think that anyone views it as a reflection of personal ability (at least I hope they don’t)! Unfortunately, I know this is all easier to say than to believe…
The only thing to be thankful for (why must I always look for the silver lining?) is that my age group doesn’t yet have inflexible responsibilities like children (and spouses) and mortgages. We really only have to worry about ourselves at this point and if times get really bad, we know that we could always give up our apartments and move back in with our parents… Not the best case scenario, but a safe option for weathering this uncertain financial storm.
Hopefully, things only get better from here…