Monday, November 14, 2022

Surviving the layoffs

 The meeting started in silence. Leadership was navigating speakers and mics with multiple people on Zoom in the same conference room, which still is an issue even for the most tech savvy. Within moments, the CEOs face was front and center on my screen. The look they the camera was one of intense sadness, steeling themselves for what was about to be said and how it would change everything.

I’m sensitive to layoffs and terminations. Both Grey and I have been on the receiving of these decisions, suffering the fallout with subsequent job hunting, sigma, and (in the case of terminations) shame inflicted by former employers. I could write a novel on bad managers and unethical practices I’ve experienced from those who have managed me. So when the email came about a sudden company wide meeting with less than 24 hours notice, I steeled myself to be once again job hunting in a recession.

And make no mistake, we are firmly in a recession.

Instead, I find myself tonight on the other side still employed, though still deeply traumatized. Despite instruction otherwise, I spent the day finishing some projects and distracting myself for checking things off my to-do list. Interspersed with this was breaks to sob uncontrollably, remembering full well the tremor that comes in dwindling savings, piling bills, and housing insecurity. Flashbacks about navigating unemployment and qualifying for food stamps haunting my thoughts.

Survivors guilt is something I’m use to. I still remember that last round of IVF where all odds pointed to failure, and yet somehow we came out the other side. Of feeling displaced and guilty with the randomness and, in some case, blatant unfairness. I called my manager immediately after the company meeting and together we cried as I thanked her for all she’s done for me over the last 8 months. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye and there’s so much work left for us to do together. We both found ourselves with messages that we were “safe” moments later, yet both shaken and untrusting that we truly were.

Life in Silicon Valley is drastically changing. The tech sector is slashing jobs as VC funding has dried up. It’s only a matter of time before the exodus begins. One silver lining is the support people are giving one another as they find themselves hunting. The sigma of finding yourself unemployed being challenged as people offer connections, recommendations, and general support.

Tonight I find myself experiencing the same emotions I’ve lived through, though this time on the inside looking out. It sucks knowing what being an outsider is like and I sorely wish it wasn’t a reality for so many. I’m also keenly aware that I need to absorb all of this while preparing for another day. There’s still so much to do. Processing the pain of having to say goodbye to colleagues I care about while making plans for the transition that is already happening. 

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