COVID taught me what it’s like to lose everything overnight

COVID taught me what it’s like to lose everything overnight, but it wasn’t the end for me.

I’m a recruiter, and you would think I would be well versed in handling redundancies. I’ve interviewed many candidates who have been made redundant. I have heard and felt their anguish, despair and fear. I have experienced my family and close friends’ redundancies and witnessed the profound sense of loss.  

Then the pandemic entered our lives, and pretty much overnight, I too lost my job. I was not made redundant. I tried to make this happen, but it is sort of impossible when you have your own business. Our business had no business. I stopped paying myself–and did so for most of 2020. You do what you do in a crisis to keep the lights half on and keep hold of your employees.

I felt scared and powerless. I tossed and turned for hours at night; as lack of sleep became my norm, I looked for any possible sleep enhancer. I now permanently sleep with a mouth guard to protect what little enamel I have left from the grinding! I questioned my skills (‘what skills’, I kept asking myself), ‘you have no skills! You can’t even use Zoom smoothly; yours is the only one with no face’. I also quickly adopted the imposter syndrome (I knew all along it was just luck, a fluke!). I was pretty unkind to myself!

I know what to say, ‘it’s not you, it’s the role that has been made redundant’, ‘it’s not personal’, ‘you will be fine, you have transferable skills.’ And I know it to be the truth. Or my most loved ‘motivational’ comment, depending upon my relationship, ‘do not carry the baggage with you at interview, Taylor Swift and shake it off!’.

All well and good, until you are the one jobless and what if you don’t actually like Tay Tay?

Then I started to pull myself together. I invented my Own Best Friend “OBF”, and there was no more banter about the imposter. I thought, what advice do I give to EVERYONE else in this position? Well, I have to ‘try’. ‘Just try’ has been my mantra for 18 months now.  Not to be confused with Nikes’ ‘just do it’- how can you ‘just do’ when you don’t know how! So, mine was and is (every day still) ‘just try’, ‘just see if you can do it’.

By ‘just trying’,  I increased my confidence levels. With my increased confidence, I felt I could achieve again. I felt more positive and optimistic. Even if something I tried did not quite work out, it led me to another place, plan, or idea. If I did not try it initially, it would not have taken me to this new place.

I thus learnt it’s ok to ‘fail’. For me, it is part of the journey of getting somewhere. Most importantly, I started to feel happy again and ‘employable’.

I wrote a book last year. I could never have written that book in a million lifetimes if I had not at first failed miserably at blog writing. You see, I started to write blogs for the first time last year; as part of a new marketing strategy, I was ‘trying’. I think back and cringe when I recall the first blogs. No one read them, thank God. There were no click rates or open rates to measure, and let’s not even discuss the numerous fights I had with the ‘the monkey’ as Mailchimp is now called in our office.  

When you are made redundant or lose your job, you simply must keep trying.

Without a doubt, it is soul-crushing, but you cannot let it define or take hold of you.  You can stop for a bit, cry–definitely cry, feel sorry for yourself; all of this is totally fine and normal. But do not slide too far down the slope of despair or self wallow. Draw a line, create your OBF and just keep trying. Apply for jobs, speak with people you know, upskill, try something new or different; you might be good at it! By stepping into this arena of ‘trying’, you will open up a whole new world for yourself, one of increased confidence, self-efficacy, self-belief, acceptance and optimism.

It is not easy to do. There will still be moments, shaky periods, with self-doubt creeping back every now and then, but you will be further down the path of where you are meant to be! You don’t know where your ‘just trying’ and exploring may lead you. Somewhere pretty great is my guess!

Roxanne Calder, author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’ (Major Street $29.95), is the founder and managing director of EST10 – one of Sydney’s most successful administration recruitment agencies. Roxanne is passionate about uncovering people’s potential and watching their careers soar. For more information on how Roxanne can assist you in your career visit here.

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox