I recently lost my job. After working in the same place with the same people for the past 20 years, I came to work and found out without warning that my job was gone. The place where I spent 40 hours every week was closing shop. No clues, no lead-up, just a quick painful goodbye.
Besides losing my job, I’ve lost my second family. The people I worked with for so many years have become my friends. I’ve spent more time with them than I did with my actual family. We’ve been through so much together: births, deaths, illnesses, trips, weddings. We shared holiday recipes and stories about everyday life. We were lucky to work in a unique place where everyone liked and cared about each other.
What am I going to do now? I’m 50 years old and not sure I’m marketable anymore. I’ve been out of the game for so long, I don’t know how to get back in. Who is going to want to hire someone my age? It’s a sad time for each of us here. We’ve lost so much.
Dear Forced Finality,
As the saying goes, all good things come to an end. Although it may seem like it now, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost it all. What you’ve lost is your routine, your regular connection with your work friends and, of course, the security of a weekly paycheque.
The sadness of a big change like this, especially after so many years, is very real. It’s as real as the death of someone you loved, and you must allow yourself to come to terms with it before you can move on. This is not an overnight process, and in the coming weeks, you’ll probably go through some or all of the stages of grief before you can move on. Eventually, you’ll put the memories you created at this job in a happy place in your heart and move on.
Careers don’t end at 50 or 60. They end when you want them to. Perhaps you have to be more creative than the 25-year-old who has just graduated with a shiny new degree, but that degree can’t replace the years of experience you’ve accumulated. You need to re-evaluate what you want. Do you want to continue to climb the career ladder or will you be happy with a new routine? Is money a big factor, or can you manage with a little less? Are you flexible with time, or do you have other commitments you have to work around? Get your resume together, start networking, brush up on your interview skills, smile and move on. No doubt in your 20 years you’ve honed your skills to near-perfection.
As for your work family, you can stay connected through reunions, Facebook, phone calls etc. Anything worth keeping is worth working at.
The security of a paycheque will be a little harder in our economy, but not impossible. You’re smart, skilled and have made many connections over the years. Organize yourself and call each and every one of those people to tell them you’re in the market for a job. Fill out your profile on LinkedIn and upgrade yourself with courses in your field. Stay current and fresh, be flexible and flick that chip off your shoulder. You have to prove yourself all over again, but you can do anything you put your mind to. Good luck.
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.