Lessons learned from unemployment


JuliasaysLayoffs! Layoffs! Layoffs! There’s a word that corporate America has gotten very used to.

Even though layoffs have become somewhat of a fact of life, it is still something that many people simply can’t accept. That was the case for the major layoff that happened to Target in March of this year. It seemed like the entire state of Minnesota actually felt the loss at Target, a company that went from being the top employer in the state to cutting numerous jobs within hours.

I remember walking into work around 7:55 am that day knowing something was going to happen but not quite knowing when. Then, about 9 am, all I saw in the hall were boxes. To be quite honest, it felt like a slow massacre.

It was truly one of the saddest things I had ever seen, having to say goodbye to friends and colleagues who all had this look of defeat and anger from unanswered questions. Some seemed okay, but one consistent emotion expressed was that of being in a position where a corporation could change the course of one’s life was just not okay.

At about 12 or 1 pm, it was silence at headquarters. Everyone said their goodbyes, and many people simply left because they could not focus for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately for me, I had to stay at work, the life of a contractor. I was left with the feeling of knowing there would be more, but simply not knowing when.

Two days later, my manager asked to speak with me and said decisions beyond his control led to my contract ending. I probably went through 10 seconds of anger and then instant relief of no longer having to worry or second-guess what would occur next.

I had built an amazing résumé, and now it was just time for the next steps. In no way were those next steps the easiest, but I learned much during that time.

That allotted time to think about my life was simply a gift, and like many affected during times like these, I found it simply makes you sharper and adds more layers of tough skin.

As you can imagine, the thought process of what I would do financially crossed my mind. But I thank God I have a support system that has encouraged me to take a break.

Now the question that plagues my mind is, where do I begin? What do I actually want to do next? That answer I still don’t have.

But one thing I have decided to do is to keep my mind refreshed. I have been praying, reading devotionals and connecting with God. I have also started reading many books and finally starting the process to write again. I am actually happy to be unemployed; now this does not mean that I am always in a great mood, but the good definitely has outweighed the bad.

Now I ask myself what I am supposed to learn from this journey, and one thing continues to come to mind. In the Bible, Apostle Paul is said to be content in whatever state of life. Now, this in no way means that one should give up on their dreams and have blind faith, but what I gather is that it means to diligently work towards your goals and enjoy the journey.

One may not be a millionaire in a day, but in five years that million dollars becomes attainable. However, the lessons and trials along the way is where the contentment aspect comes into play, learning from all the mistakes and truly enjoying the journey along the way.

Another thing I have learned is to be happy with myself, even if I am not where I thought I would be. Let me tell you that has not been an easy feat. However, I am tugging along trying to find my happy place wherever I absolutely can, even when I feel the worst.

The lesson has been to train my mind to think positive at all times. Even though that training process has been hard, thinking positive is no longer difficult — it has become my life. Another lesson in this journey is to not only to train my mind to learn, but to add learning as a way of life, a way to overcome any obstacle and remain content at all times.


Julia Toles welcomes reader responses to jtoles@spokesman-recorder.com.