An illustration of a women with a purse in a fancy jacket and skirt as she flips her hair

I remember it like it was yesterday. I poured my heart out into hundreds of emails to anyone whose address I could get my hands on, eagerly expressing my passion and interest in working for their company.

I’m sure you know how this goes. You make every effort to stand out and create a connection on the job hunt, but silence meets you on the other end. Every once in a while, the new email notification sounds. Instead of another sale alert, it’s an email back from a company responding to your job application! 

Landing a marketing role at a fashion brand that empowers women around the world was more than a dream. Every bit of work I contributed to the company felt like it had a deeper purpose attached to it. Not to mention the office was bright and inspiring, and we were working with the most beautiful clothes. 

On the Monday morning when I was called into the office at 8 a.m. and told that the marketing budget could no longer support my role, my heart was crushed. As I handed over my keys with tears in my eyes, I felt a wave of emotions from sadness to loss. Losing my dream job was harder than I could have expected, but I learned a lot that has helped me in the job market as well as personally.

Your identity is not attached to a job. 

After losing my job, comparison set in hard. I compared myself to the girls who were still happily working away at the company, living their best lives. I also compared myself to everyone else I came across while job searching on LinkedIn or those I went to school with. Everyone seemed to be doing really cool things, and I, all of a sudden, felt so far behind.

That summer, I worked a retail job at a department store, which only served as a reminder of what I lost. I began thinking less of myself because I wasn’t living up to the image of what those around me had. 

It took me a while to realize the truth—our identities are not, and should not be, attached to our work. Take a moment and ask yourself if you’ve been placing your identity in what you do. If yes, then perhaps it’s time to deconstruct those thoughts and consider attaching your identity to something of more value. Jobs, companies, income and even what you consider to be your dream role are all fleeting things that can change without warning. 

Our identities are not, and should not be, attached to our work.

Don’t take it personally.

If there is any advice I could give myself a year ago, then it would be this: Don’t take this experience personally. In the beginning, it was not easy to separate losing my job and the feelings of not quite being good enough. My thoughts spiraled into the dangerous territory of, “I’m not creative,” “I’m not worthy” and “I’m not wanted.”

It’s important to speak truth over yourself in these circumstances. Separate your feelings from the facts of the situation. Take this circumstance as an opportunity to grow, but don’t look down on yourself in the process. 

Separate your feelings from the facts of the situation.

You will get through this.

I wish I could report that I’ve found my place, that I can look back and see where this experience was leading all along. Instead, I continue through the trenches of job applications, cover letters and interviews. It’s been almost exactly a year. As each day has passed, it’s become increasingly hard to hang in there, but I do know that I’ll get through this. You will too.

This experience won’t break you or define you. It will only make you stronger and contribute to your growth. You’ll get through this by believing in yourself, by surrounding yourself with a support system, by taking a step back to breathe and by pursuing your dream or growing your skills outside of the workplace. 

Working at a company or in a role that makes your heart beat is a huge blessing. If everyone had the opportunity to get paid to do what they love every day, then the world would be a little bit happier. The most significant work of your life is not a job. Your relationships, your hobbies, how you choose to spend your days, how you interact with others and how you love and encourage those around you—these are the significant works of your life that are completely separate from your resume

Would you say that your identity is rooted in what you do? How can you consciously separate who you are from your work? 

Image via Mitja Bokun, Darling Issue No. 13

1 comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this. These are words I needed to hear, particularly the last two sentences. I’m sorry you lost your job; it seems like the real loss was on their part. Stay strong! Your next dream job is out there, and you will find it.

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