You Can't Play With Us Anymore
A year ago today was one of the hardest days of my life. I lost my job. Or rather, I got told for sure that I specifically would be losing my job. Me. Not the other person who did the same job.
I had been working for the same company for 10 years after being made redundant in 2009 when the big old crash happened. That was awful too, but it all felt a bit less personal because the whole office was closing, so there were about 250 other people to share the grief and big, big feelings with. Also, at that time I enjoyed my job and liked the company, but I didn't love it. I didn't feel like I would be there until I died/retired/won the lottery, whichever came first.
The job I had last year, which I had held for about 5 years, was recruitment for a specialist mortgage lender. They are a great company to work for and what they do is so important. They help people who wouldn't normally be able to get a mortgage through a High Street lender to own their own home. The team I worked in was brilliant and the role I had was the best. I got to talk to people all day and genuinely make a difference to them. More importantly for me was that I felt like I was good at it. It's the first job I've ever had that I've thought "I'd like to do this when I grow up". Other jobs I have had have all been fine and I've never really had a job I hated (apart from checkouts at Waitrose when I was 16), but this one felt like such a good fit.
So imagine how I felt when I got told I couldn't play with them anymore?
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all hearts and flowers and I had had my frustrations about things just like anyone does at work. Looking back I wonder whether raising certain things (which were minor issues I had, nothing related to the business as such) had an impact on their decision. Should I have kept quiet? Should I have just kept my head down rather than letting them know there was something that I wasn't altogether happy with? I don't think I should have. Whether it had an impact on the decision or not I think it's always right to speak up if something is bothering you.
Anyway, 5 days prior, completely out of the blue I was told I was "at risk" of redundancy. It's all a blur really but basically, my colleague and I would be scored according to a weighted list of competencies and they would make a decision by the end of the week. I was told that I could take voluntary redundancy to avoid the process but that was never going to be an option. I don't think that I'm a particularly assertive or confident person but as soon as someone or something threatens something I love there is no way I'm giving up. I pity anyone who threatens or hurts one of my children. It's not going to end well for them.
So, the fight was on. As soon as I saw the list and weighting of competencies I knew which way it was going but I still wasn't giving up. Well-meaning colleagues tried to suggest that I give in and take the money and run. I absolutely appreciate what they were trying to do but I couldn't just give up without trying, could I? I know they were trying to save me the heartache but what kind of message would that have sent? I've spent too much of my working life being the one who backs down in arguments or lets things go, so I wasn't about to do that when there was so much at stake. If I was going down, I was going down fighting!
So I put together all my evidence of how amazing I was and practiced talking through it without bursting into tears every 5 seconds until I practically knew it off by heart. It was so uncomfortable for me to do. I'm amazing at putting myself down and not having as much faith in my abilities as I should have, so having to do the opposite was incredibly foreign to me. If the past year has taught me anything, it's that you have to big yourself up first. You can't rely on other people to do it for you and if you do then you're not going to get very far. I'm hoping I can live by that in the future.
My other issue was my amazing ability to cry. Like normal people, I cry if I'm sad, but I also cry when I'm angry. It's so irritating and tends to undermine your argument somewhat when you burst into tears but there you go. I told myself I had to hold it together.
There was no way my competition would be crying so I needed to be calm and collected too. I think that probably lasted about five minutes in the meeting with my manager and the HR Business Partner. In fact, five minutes might be generous. I tried so hard to keep it together but I just couldn't. I just felt too much and apparently all those feelings needed to escape through my tear ducts. I got through everything I needed to say but I was flogging a dead horse really. If nothing else I certainly demonstrated passion, and maybe slight hysteria.
So that was that. First thing the next day I got told I wasn't the chosen one. It wasn't a shock, I know how the process works, I've seen both sides of it. I don't really remember much about that day other than being completely overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings. It was like a big horrible dream. I remember crying and laughing and then thinking I had to stay for the rest of the day to work. It was very confusing.
Confusing or not... I was redundant.
You're not supposed to say that when you're made redundant. You're meant to say "my role was made redundant". It's not you, it's the role that is redundant. That's a load of balls though when you are the one going through it. The role may well be redundant, but so are you and there's nothing that can be done to take away the pain of it. You just have to ride the horrible waves. If I had a friend who was made redundant I would say to them that it's the role not them because that is true, but you cannot help but take it personally. Anyone who doesn't is either really thick-skinned or isn't that bothered about their job.
I did discover the day after that I could win an Oscar for acting. I had a day out planned with my mum and Chad Logan for Chad's birthday. I didn't want to ruin the day by telling my mum and both of us getting all upset so I had to hold it together. For the whole day! I even managed not to cry when I lost my Travelcard to London within about 10 minutes of buying it, which meant I had to fork out for another one. We had the best day but holy moly, I was exhausted keeping it all in.
So, to say the last year has been an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement. I know it's been crazy days for the world and we've all been through it a bit. I know I'm also not the only person to have been made redundant over the past year, but I do like to behave like I am the only one. It's all about me kids!
Over the past couple of weeks, I've had the pleasure of going back to my old employer to temp in a different team and a different role. I know that loads of people had reservations over me doing it knowing how deeply I was affected by everything. Like I was going to be some kind of psychotic stalker that wouldn't leave once I was let back into the office. I think if it had been any sooner it would have been a bad idea. I also think if I had gone back to HR it would have been a bad idea. Luckily there are more strings to my old bow than just recruitment and I had forgotten how good I am talking to customers on the phone. I still love the company and feel so very passionate about what they do, it's such an important job. It's done me the world of good to see people's reactions to me coming back. As I've said before, I'm a bit like a dog in that I thrive on some positive attention and reinforcement. So to find out that people are so happy that I'm back has been amazing. I no longer think the whole company hates me.
I've also loved seeing how people I recruited or moved internally are getting on. The team I have been working in was almost entirely recruited by me (and Declando), so to see what an amazing job they are all doing has made my little heart happy. I am so proud of them. My babies.
The best news is though, I'm leaving but this time, I'm leaving on my terms. I'm not being kicked out. I'm not being told I'm not good enough. I'm leaving because I have secured myself a new, more permanent (as permanent as you can get at the moment) job doing what I love, somewhere else. In scarier news, it's not in Financial Services! I've worked in Financial Services since 1998. I fell into it like all of us do and then just stayed because it's what I know and I like the rules and the structure. Now it's time for something new though and it's with a company who also does something very, very important and makes a difference.
So a week tomorrow, subject to references and all that jazz, I start my new adventure in a whole new world of recruitment. For the first time in a year I feel kind of at peace with it all, if not a bit nervous about the whole being a new girl thing. My beloved previous employer absolutely, 100% made the wrong decision not keeping me and I will stand by that until my dying day, but I'm going to be ok kids.
I am going to be ok.