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I found both stress and joy in being laid off

This First Person article is written by Amanda Schrack, a writer living in Coquitlam, B.C. For more information about CBC’s First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

I’ve added too much lavender bubble bath to the tub. I don’t usually do this. In fact, I usually add too little. But it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of mess you’re in until the bubbles start to form. 

At least, that’s how it felt when I was told I was being laid off. What I thought would be a regular workday bubbled into an unknown mess of insecurities that I didn’t see coming. 

I never anticipated having a marketing career, especially since I studied environmental science, but I stuck with it because having transferable skills that could be applied to most industries seemed safe. Little did I know that only a few years into this journey I’d experience the repercussions of a company tightening its budget.

It’s hard to know how to navigate this situation. My sense of worth has always been placed on my usefulness to others and it’s been a double-edged sword. It’s validating to be a part of a system where my contributions matter. However, that means when that environment is stripped away, I didn’t just lose sense of purpose, I lost my sense of self.

With every meticulously crafted application sent in an attempt to recenter this world comes a waiting game. I anxiously check my email for days and then weeks and see nothing. 

But the one thing I do know is that stepping away from that computer screen and into a tub of warm water helps centre me.

Water pours from the faucet and into a bathtub full of bubbles
In the bath, Amanda Schrack was able to come to terms with being laid off. (Amanda Schrack)

I’m not sure exactly how many baths I’ve taken over the past few weeks but I know it’s more than usual. I’ve sat in the water so many times now my skin is becoming raw. It’s not ideal, but right now it feels pretty reasonable to sacrifice my skin for the sake of ridding myself of the knots that sit in my stomach. And I come to the realization that I’m unsure if I’m even interested in this process of job hunting because the last time I was, it led me to where I am now: sitting in my bathtub, covered in bubbles, without a job, and my insecurities bubbling up.

The great thing about a bath is that as the bubbles around me subside, so does my insecurity. Yes, I could be sending out applications by the dozen, but I’d be worse off doing that without a clear mind. Letting the bubbles pop helps me stay afloat in times when sinking feels inevitable. 

After a few deep breaths, I leave the bath with my regained composure. I don’t just know the answers to the simple questions now; I believe them.

Is this challenge temporary? Yes.

Is it going to be easy? No, but that’s the only way to grow.

Will I survive? Absolutely. 

I may not know what the future holds, but I know I’ll figure out a way to make it work for me even if I’m working for someone else. While this period between jobs is stressful, it’s also a time to reflect. Finding a balance between the two is the only way to lead me in the right direction. 

I think I’m ready. As I go back to my desk I go, a trail of lavender lingers in the air.

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