AI generated image of a recently redundant woman.
While I appreciate that redundancy happens to everyone at some point in their career, until recently, it had never happened to me. Sure, I’ve known people who have been made redundant once or twice in their career. But, for me, it was an experience I’d not yet encountered – and I was confident I wouldn’t, either. Especially not this year, at this company.
After all, I was the most experienced member of the team, and I led on absolutely everything. Day to day, overarching strategy, team management, mentorship, content, campaigns, events, press, media – you name it, my paws were all over it.
I was so certain that if the dreaded ‘R’ word was mentioned, I’d be safe. The company needed my expertise if they were going to scale, grow and make millions. My CV was the only one in the department – perhaps even the company – that could support that! Except, I wasn’t safe, and my expertise wasn’t needed. And that’s a shit sandwich I wasn’t quite prepared to be force fed, frankly.
Being made redundant is an isolating experience
Beyond the immediate onslaught of terrifying thoughts:
- Oh, fuck, how am I going to pay my rent?
- The job market is over-saturated with people far more talented than me, I’m RUINED
- I am so shit at everything, why do I even bother?
- I will not make a dignified homeless person, what the fuck am I going to do?
Was the profound sense of complete isolation.
Don’t talk to anyone about this. That’s what I was told. Other than my ‘work bestie’ (who I immediately called for his kindness and patience when dealing with a confused, rambling lunatic) and my employee advocate who was, without a doubt, the most wonderful and supportive person I could lean on, I didn’t talk to anyone. Not even my own team. Which was shit.
That was the worst for me. My pride and joy over the last year and nine months was the team I’d hired and mentored. My content girlies. My babies. My Barbies. My beloved toes. We were an excellent team, who worked together seamlessly. We often joked that we brought the company culture, but honestly, we did. And my management style is very much open, transparent; what I know, they know – how else do they grow? So being told that I couldn’t communicate with them all – while still having to manage them every day – was awful. I felt like I was betraying them.
I also knew they’d take it personally too, which was even worse. I was being forced to isolate myself from the people who made my life as a marketer, manager and remote worker an absolute pleasure, without giving them the respect they deserved by being honest with them. And that was shit too.
But beyond that, once I was actually made redundant and placed on garden leave, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. When I’m stressed, or hurt, or have had something traumatic happen to me, I isolate myself even further. Due to past trauma, I have this nagging voice that lives in my head telling me that if I’m not successful or happy or constantly a pleasure to be around, that no one will like or want me. And so, when unemployed, borderline depressed and constantly in a state of panic about my future, what is that voice telling me?
Everyone hates you, Vicki.
You’re an absolute failure, Vicki.
You’re shit, Vicki.
Inexplicably, my first action was to spend an entire Friday moving furniture around my flat based on the decision that I was going to live out my fantasy of living in a tiny New York studio, while ignoring the rest of my three bedroom maisonette on the North East coast. Then, I got absolutely shit faced on Cava, while listening to Taylor Swift. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Over this last month or so, I have felt like a broken record. I feel like everyone around me is annoyed and just wants me to get over it, put a smile on my face and just accept that being made redundant is a part of life. Which it is, but it’s also still absolutely shit.
Being made redundant has massively impacted my mental health
The last 10 years has been a massive metamorphosis of one swashbuckling, romantic human woman that is I. I have overcome severe trauma, emotional and physical abuse, immense depression and a suicide attempt (ish, let’s not get into it now). I have worked relentlessly on my mental health to ensure that I become the version of myself I have always wanted to be: strong, capable, kind, loving, open and full of joy. I was getting there – 2023 was my year and I was feeling the happiest I’ve ever felt. Being made redundant has genuinely undone so many years of solid work, and I feel like that sad little 24 year old; bruised, lonely and afraid. The only difference between her and I being that I don’t think ending my own life is the best thing I can do. And for that, naturally, I’m very grateful.
But I am scared. And I do feel like I’m simply not good enough. And I am reminding myself that every time – every single time – I feel like my life is getting to where I always hoped it would be, the rug is pulled from under me and that nagging voice, ever-present: no, actually, you don’t deserve a career, or friends, or someone to love, or a fun life filled with travel and excitement. You deserve to panic and struggle and suffer. That’s all you deserve. Very silly you thought otherwise, foolish woman.
While I know this is a temporary feeling, it’s still a valid one. I know I’ll overcome this and look back and laugh at my bizarre behaviours and anxious, dark cloud thoughts. But the truth is, redundancy IS shit and it does cause you to hold a mirror up to your whole life and question everything. However, something that I am clinging onto is something a friend of mine said to me: no one has been made redundant and thought a year on, “god, I wish that hadn’t happened!” and so I know that being made redundant, while shit, will also be the best thing to happen to me.
Being made redundant can be a wonderful catalyst for something excellent
If you hadn’t already gathered, I’ve had a pretty massive knock to my confidence and I have found it quite hard to look forward beyond the next few days. But, I also know that there are a wealth of opportunities out there for professional and personal growth when the time comes.
Being made redundant has forced me to hold a mirror up to my own life and ask myself, is this really worth it? Do I want this? In terms of my job, other than my team and the people I interacted with every day, did I love my job? Honestly, not really. It was fine. Having to fight for a job that was just fine, on reflection, makes me feel like a bit of a tit. Sure, I want to work with people who I like and who make my Monday to Friday a joy, but – in the words of Ariel the Little Mermaid – I want more.
This extends to my life too. 2023 has been a banner year. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve travelled with my best friend, I’ve flirted with beautiful men, and made intentional friendships I genuinely treasure. I’ve lost 10 stone in weight, I’ve read more books than I ever have in a single year, and, until recently, have become genuinely at peace with who I am: mind, body, soul. But again, I want more.
I’m not sure I believe in it, but there is a part of me that genuinely thinks that fate knows I can do better, and so I am being challenged. Instead of that rug being pulled from under me, making room for the black cat of depression circling itself until comfortable on my chest, telling me I’m rubbish, fate is floating around me, casting her ethereal glow around my genuinely grand potential.
I wasn’t made redundant because I’m terrible. I was made redundant because fate was tired of watching me settle for less than I deserve. Fate was tired of me embracing mediocrity and going along for the ride, and so she took the reins.
Fate knows that I’ve always wanted to move abroad, but been a little too scared to take the plunge. So, when looking for jobs, I’m ideally looking for remote opportunities that allow me to work from anywhere.
I’ve always wanted to work for value-driven companies that are making a huge difference in their industries. Ideally, I want to work for companies that are changing the world, or making a difference to people’s lives, and so when applying for jobs, I’m prioritising those where I can support that difference and feel truly fulfilled when I close my laptop every day.
Let’s not mention what I want to do with my personal life next year… That’s another story altogether.
Ultimately, comfort breeds complacency and as much of a battering redundancy has given my mental health and well-being, I’m choosing to believe that fate will get her own way and that this will be a galvanising experience, to the point that when I am living somewhere warm and sunny, I can look across at the person sitting opposite me (and, let’s face it, this will be you, Lau) and say “God, I’m so glad I was made redundant.”