The 5 stages of recovery after getting laid off

Unemployment happens. You could have been laid off from a company that needs to cut back in bad financial times or been fired from a gig that wasn’t the right fit. It’s jarring and gross and disorienting, and almost everyone goes through it sometime. We get it. It’s a weird time.

After all, leaving a job is a loss. It’s a part of your identity and the place you went for a large chunk of every weekday. Not having it can leave you feeling untethered. Just know that this period in your life will pass. I’ve met people who have had long bouts of unemployment, they’ve all eventually come out the other side, ending their pants-less days on the couch, and resuming their positions back in the workforce. But right after you lose a job, you gotta work through some stuff. Here are five stages of sudden unemployment.

1. Struggling to get a grasp of the facts

This is when aren’t ready to accept the reality of your situation. You act as if it’s Saturday even though deep down you know it’s Monday. You sleep in late, go to the gym, grab some lunch…. Then, when you hop onto g-chat, as you normally did during the day at work, you omit the fact that you are in your living room, not an office, as you chat with your friends. You’re not upset per se, you just feel numb. That’s OK. When the tectonic plates of your living situation move quickly like that, it’s natural for there to be aftershocks.

2. Getting bummed about having to do this whole job thing all over again

You become sad that you no longer have a job, and you’re not looking forward to embarking on the (often) difficult road to find a new one. You wallow in feeling bad for yourself. You may withdraw and become a bit reclusive, not wanting to be around others and explain your situation. You have your pity party (maybe make some pita-y pizzas? Just a suggestion to liven things up) and crack open one too many bottles of wine. It’s cool, sometimes you need to FEEL ALL THE FEELS in order to come out the other side. Just remember not to be embarrassed. People lose jobs all the time, and you’d be surprised how supportive your friends can be.

3. Getting your confidence back

Now you’re in the stage where you can conquer the world again. This new-found motivation may stem from anger. Screw that employer who let you go; it’s their loss that you don’t work there anymore. Or maybe: I rocked it at that job; there will be tons of other people dying to hire someone like me! Either way, you’re done mourning and ready face the day head on. You update your resume, send it out to the masses, and are ready for the interviews to start rolling in. Maybe you’ll even treat yourself to a mani/pedi, in anticipation of all the meetings you’ll have to look your best at.

4. Acknowledging that it might take a while, and that’s cool

Maybe that flurry of emails worked and you’re already set up in your sweet new gig. But sometimes it takes a while for those employers to come knocking. It can be so discouraging: You feel as though you have reached out to everyone you could, applied for every job available and yet you still haven’t found work. Here’s the thing: Getting new work can take a while, and it’s easy to get frustrated. Talk to your friends and tell them you’re looking for new opportunities, set up informational interviews, and don’t be shy about reaching out to former colleagues and contacts. You never know who might have an opening.

5. Accepting that you lost your job, but it isn’t the end of the world. 

You make peace with your current situation and accept that it is temporary. You get out of bed, wipe that chocolate off your face, and resume living you life. You also realize that other aspects of your life – friends, family, hobbies – are still important and you can enjoy them without feeling guilty that you aren’t looking for work one hundred percent of your day. Eventually, you get another job and switch out those days on the couch in sweatpants for a desk in business casual. It’ll happen. Don’t give up.