My husband was impacted by the tech layoffs a couple of weeks back. In some ways, it shouldn’t be a surprise given that layoffs are everywhere, and yet in other ways, it was unexpected.
Over the last few weeks, I have navigated a whole surge of emotions as I have processed the news, what it means for our family, and what decisions need to shift. It took me a week before I finally found more ground beneath my feet with much greater access to layers of joy and hope.
I was recently asked what’s helping me find my ground…
I find that the most effective tool has been to simply give space and room for my emotions. To stay curious and open with love and compassion for what I am going through. I went through so many layers of shame, grief, disappointment, sadness, and fear. I needed to let the tears fall from my eyes and honor the parts of me that were feeling scared and overwhelmed by the uncertainty. At one point I realized, I was feeling the pain of my layoff or rather the compounded pain of two layoffs in a short span and I had to give myself moments to feel the emotions before I transition to discerning the wisdom and insight of my emotions and the actions I need to take.
We are culturally taught to do everything to avoid discomfort, pain, and uncertainty and it’s true I don’t wish any of this on anyone but the reality of being a human, of having hopes and dreams, of having a body with flesh and bones means that we will face disappointment, loss, and death. And I am learning that this experience is a masterclass in learning to be grounded when so much feels unsettling.
We learn to swim not by simply watching youtube videos of other swimmers (though that helps!) but by learning the skills and tools to swim, first in the shallow waters and then in the deep. It’s wonderful when we make the choice to level up when we feel equipped and ready but sometimes life throws you into the deep end and that’s how you learn to swim. There are many days when life feels that way, swimming in the deep end without having asked for it but also often being able to swim and notice the beauty of the water, the fresh crisp air, and the mountains all around.
And I am also learning the importance of building the skills, having the tools, and most importantly a community of trusted humans that help you prepare and navigate the hard stuff before they come your way because at some point they will. I know this will not be the last time an unexpected challenge comes our way. Preparing for a storm when the skies are clear makes a difference because you have a greater capacity to deal with it when it comes. We are told preparing often means the logistics of our lives, our resumes, and the size of our savings accounts. And yes, they matter, I am acutely aware of my privilege to be able to pause and write this essay, and knowing I will be able to pay my mortgage and bring food on the table for the next few months but yet, doing the work in being able to navigate uncertainty is not just about creating more certainty but also learning to accept the uncertainty and trust that we can swim in the deep waters and find our way in choppy weather.
And finally, I am learning that we find our ground often in the consistent, repeated work of nurturing ourselves, strengthening our relationship with ourselves, listening and attending to our bodies, breathing in the fresh air, watching the sunset, and savoring the people we have the honor of loving. I am learning to trust and lean on the people who have graciously created safety and belonging for me in this season. I am finding my ground in all of the simple but meaningful ways life brings us joy and hope.
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