I read a story in the newspaper today about a woman who has been looking for a job for more than a year. She held several good jobs before being laid off – a victim of the economy. Even though she did nothing wrong, even though she was not in any way to blame for losing her job, being unemployed has taken a huge toll on her self-esteem.
In many ways, being laid off and finding yourself newly single are really similar, don’t you think? There’s the anger (why did this happen to me?), the self-blame (I must have done something wrong), the loss of structure and rituals in your day, and — assuming you want to get back out there — the need to “sell” yourself. Your self-esteem is definitely at risk. So how do you handle it?
Well, let’s go back to the woman in the article. After a year of looking, she was really frustrated, as you can imagine. But she was still trying. And then one day out of the blue, as she was sitting at a restaurant dutifully scanning through job listings, she struck up a conversation with a man at the next table.
No, he didn’t turn out to be her soul mate or even a potential employer. But he did have an idea. He suggested they throw a “pink slip party” — a party that brings employers, recruiters and job seekers together. The pink slip party gave the woman a purpose. She was excited to focus on a project that could help herself and other people, too.
Throughout her job hunt, she’d been uncomfortable selling herself, and she still felt that way at the party. When recruiters asked her about herself, she gave them only a glimpse. But then, as the party got underway, as she introduced speakers and kept the party going, she was noticed. The character traits listed on her resume came to life. The party didn’t end with a fairy-tale match, but she did wake up the next day with new contacts to call.
And I think the story is a good lesson for all of us. Her job search was jumpstarted by a combination of happenstance and effort. Her confidence returned when she threw herself into doing something different. And her best traits showed through when she was busy being herself.
There’s one big difference between looking for a job and looking for a relationship, though. Most of us need a job to pay our bills — not finding one is usually not an option.
On the other hand, you can give up on the search for a relationship.
You can, but I hope you don’t.