I’ve started writing this blog post several times over the last month and a half. I would start, stop, delete, start over, stop, and delete again. I feel as if I have so much to say, but I can’t figure out how to put it in one cohesive post. So while this post isn’t the perfect solution it’s better than nothing. This post is not intended as an explanation for my poor performance in the CrossFit Open this year, or intending to blame anyone for anything. It is merely my life experience over the last 2 months.
I was laid off from my position as Counsel at CrossFit, Inc. at the end of January 2016. It was not expected and took me by surprise. I had never really imagined myself in any life scenario where I was laid off. I guess this is probably because I believe in some sort of low-grade modified just-world fallacy and think that “if I work hard and do the right things then good things will happen to me.” Since, I always worked hard and tried to do the right things I guess I felt insulated somehow. I believed that if I was doing high quality work then my job was safe, because I was doing a good job. That’s not actually how the world works, though.
It really wouldn’t have mattered if my work, or my effort, or my output had been 10x or 100x better. At the end of the day I still would have ended up in the same position I am now. For instance, suppose a company needs to cut jobs for financial reasons or maybe they eliminate positions because they aren’t going to offer a particular product or service anymore. In those cases, it doesn’t really matter how good you were at your job, does it? If you are in the department they need to make cuts to, you may still lose your job regardless of how good you were at it.
Initially, that was one of the hardest things to accept about being laid off. I like to be able to figure things out and to see the logic in things, and I couldn’t figure it out in this situation. I would sit there and try to come up with the reasons A,B, and C were laid off but X, Y, Z still had jobs. In the end though, if you try to stress over it for too long you’ll drive yourself crazy. A private company is entitled to make whatever decisions it thinks are best for the company, whether you agree with them, or even understand them, or not. You can’t fault them for that.
Honestly, though, not all of my initial feelings about being laid off were negative. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of things I was upset about, as well as sad and worried about. I was upset that it happened in a crowded airport where I could barely hear the HR lady on the phone. I was upset it happened on a day where I was using my paid time off and technically not working anyway. I was sad that certain people that I had looked up to never reached out to me about the situation. I was most worried about money and being able to pay our mortgage. I was worried that the awesome outside counsel and some of the ladies from the affiliate support team that I worked with would think I just stopped responding to their emails and wonder why I was being rude. I worried that once people found out that I lost my job that they would think it was because I wasn’t good at it, even though I was told this was not the case.
Yet there was something kind of exciting and liberating about being laid off…at least at first. I could suddenly do anything I wanted. I didn’t have to be a lawyer anymore if I didn’t want to. I’ve always wanted to write a book. Maybe I could do that. I’d been working on trying to get my real estate license since the summer. Maybe now I’ll actually have time to finish the course. I could start my own company and work for myself. That would be awesome!
It seemed like there were so many options those first few weeks. Plus, I was planning to apply for “regular” lawyer jobs as well. Now, I’m not sure whether it was an over-inflated ego or the advice other people were feeding me those first few weeks, but I was sure I would have my pick of those jobs. I mean I was valedictorian of my high school, I had a 4.0 all through college plus had a full scholarship for gymnastics, I graduated from one of the top 10 law schools in the country, and I got a job in-house at what I thought was a well regarded company right after law school. In my mind, everyone was going to look at that and want to offer me a job. I even told Brenton before the Open started “I think I might not apply for too many jobs during the Open, because I don’t want to be bombarded with interviews during those 5 weeks.”
Fast forward to today and approximately 50 job applications later. I have only received two interviews. One I haven’t heard back from yet, and the other I have already received a rejection from. Needless to say my confidence in finding a job anytime soon is entirely gone, and my outlook on my job search and the qualifications I thought would be so well regarded has changed dramatically. Maybe I just had a very naive outlook about what job hunting in this economy is like, or maybe I’m doing something incredibly wrong in my search, but either way it has been quite the emotional journey.
I tried not to stress about it as much during the Open, because yes, even though I was laid off from my job I still love training and I still wanted to compete in the Open. To me, my job at CrossFit, Inc. and training and competing in fitness competitions were two different things. To me, the end of one of those things does not mean the end of the other.
However, as the weeks wore on and my job search seemed to grow more and more futile and my performance in the open continued to be subpar the stress and emotions kept piling up. I started to get into this mental funk I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of. I didn’t want to do anything but sit on the couch. I would go train, get frustrated, and leave miserable, (something that very rarely happens to me on normal training days). That book I wanted to write hasn’t gotten past page 9, and I haven’t even opened the file in a month. I went to the healthcare.gov website to try to get health insurance, only to realize after I selected one that it is with the worst health insurance company I’ve ever had to deal with. It has already caused me so many headaches, and I haven’t even had it a month. I still haven’t been able to figure out why my unemployment hasn’t been paid (and the unemployment office hasn’t figured it out either).
These are all little things that, by themselves, are minor annoyances. However, with no job to work at and take pride in, and with a huge part of my self-identity as an athlete taking a hit as I continued to have poor workouts and poor training sessions, I started to slowly feel like I had nothing in my life to work at and be proud of. Now, I have to say I have a wonderfully supportive family, an amazing boyfriend who has been more than a saint helping me through every day, and a great group of friends, so in reality I very well know that I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. I also realize that there are wayyyyy worse things that can happen to you in life than just losing a job or underperforming on a workout. However, when you feel like you are suddenly falling short in your major life endeavors, it does start to take a mental toll.
I wish I could end this entry on a happy note and say, “but in the end everything worked out and I found the dream job and then went on to win the CrossFit Games,” but that is not how this story is going to end this year. I do believe deep down that in the long run everything is going to be better than it was. I’m going to keep training hard in the gym, that’s not going to change. I’ll keep up the job search and maybe something will come along (if you want to see a resume let me know 😉 ). I’m actually very serious about wanting to start a non-profit for something that I’m really passionate about, so I’m working on figuring out how I can logistically make that work. I also want to continue to write blog posts about my journey in the world of the unemployed. There are soooo many things that you need to do as soon as you get laid off that I had no idea about. It was quite overwhelming trying to figure it out. Luckily, I had some awesome friends and former co-workers to team up with and we were able to help each other through and try to figure everything out. Yet, I want to be able to provide a resource for other people who might find themselves in a similar position. Next week I will be blogging about the top 5 things (it might end up being more than 5, we’ll see) that you need to do as soon as you get laid off.
So for now, I will keep trying to send positivity out into the world in hopes that the world will send me some back!
If anyone has questions about anything specific, whether you just lost your job and don’t know where to start, or just have questions about my life and my journey I am more than happy to answer any of them. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.