When It's Time To Go
Life transitions are weird and hard, but worth remembering
Last week marked four years since the last day of my old job in the nonprofit world. I was laid off, which felt like a relief, and once I finished my last day and got drinks, I started trying to freelance. I also got a babysitting job and a part time job because I needed reliable sources of income. I think about that week of transition all the time—it felt like the hours before a big flight. A change was coming and I needed the plane to take off and land before I could do anything else.
My last day was a Thursday and I took Friday to walk the Williamsburg Bridge and wander the city with Julianne (we popped into a Buffalo Exchange where I purchased the outfit I was wearing the night I met Dale). The following Monday, Isa was in town and we got breakfast. I was so nervous about my first Monday without a commute and a clear destination and having a plan made the day so much easier (if a friend of yours gets laid off, treat them to breakfast). My dad and I went to an event that night and I spent the day on my laptop sending emails and researching things. So many people stepped up in the weeks and months that followed, setting up coffee dates, introducing me to people, inviting me to events, and I haven’t forgotten it. In August of 2018, I was introduced to Erica by a mutual friend and now we are business partners!
There’s one thing I haven’t shared publicly before about leaving my old job. After laying me off, they actually asked me to stay, for two more months in my same role, while they looked for someone to replace me.
Most stories I hear about layoffs involve being escorted out by security or some kind of mass layoff a la Vaulter media in Succession (and countless real life examples), but I’ve never heard of something like this. It was an unusual offer—and one I’m thankful everyday I said no to. I couldn’t imagine going to work every day (it would have delayed my last day to May or June) for two months knowing I had been fired, but was still hanging around due to the department’s high turnover (the other assistant had left for a new role only two months before). I imagined even more tense meetings, no hope for advancement, and eight more weeks in a dead end at a cubicle with no natural light. My salary was also not that high so it wouldn’t have made a major financial difference to stay.
I declined that offer and thank god I did (I was 24 when this happened and I didn’t have student loans, which gave me the privilege to decline). I managed to publish my first freelance piece 10 days later (and was paid a whopping $20) and I worked a lot. I would eat breakfast at home, pack my lunch and go work at a coffeeshop and then move to a bench outside to eat so I didn’t have to buy food. I attended free fitness classes of varying quality.
I sent a mass email to over 80 people I knew, explaining the situation and asking if they knew anyone I should speak to. I got back one response that I’ll always remember. She too had gotten laid off in her twenties and basically said, “I used to think about it a lot and now I don’t think about it at all and that will happen to you as well.”
I’m not quite at the “don’t think about it all” step but I have so much else to think about. I think about how in my first year of freelancing I was published in Eater, Forbes, and Bustle. I think about how about a month after my last day, I met Dale at the same bar where I gathered with friends after getting the news (having friends who will gather at a moment’s notice, for good or bad news, is a gift). I think about the angel of a therapist who helped me through all of this, calling me on my bullshit, while encouraging me that my life could be more joyful and that catastrophic thinking wasn’t going to protect me, but hold me back.
It’s a not so secret ambition of mine to write a novel someday and while most of the details of this future book are murky (though I hope I can count on you to pre order it), I think about a version of my younger self as the audience and subject of the book (names and details will be changed). As we grow older, the details of difficult times smooth together, with just the endings and noteworthy anecdotes remaining. That’s necessary for self preservation, but I want to remember the sharp bits, crying at post work SoulCycle classes, the soup spot near the office where every soup came with a piece of bread and an apple, the Sunday scaries, the darkly funny meetings, and the lunch breaks in a “park’ that was 95% concrete. The only way out was through.
If you’re interested in more career or personal content, check these out:
I wrote about summer 2014, a summer spent mostly abroad that really shaped the kind of life I wanted.
A nostalgic goodbye to my first New York apartment, where I started freelancing from the couch and kitchen table (my room was too small for a dresser, let alone a desk). Julia and I hosted really fun parties there.
I recorded a podcast episode about how I wound up here and share some more horror stories from my old job (the kitchen didn’t have a sponge, listen to learn why)
If you’d like to read more about career stuff or how I manage being my own boss (a work in progress), let me know!
Midweek Reads: I share reads every week in the Monday issue, these are some special extras
I knew nothing about this policy, where railroad workers have to be on call roughly 90% of the time. ‘The Worst and Most Egregious Attendance Policy’ Is Pushing Railroad Workers to the Brink
If you’re seeing lots more menu add ons like uni, caviar, or even burrata, this is why. They won’t save restaurants (it’s more complicated than that), but they can pad check averages. How Upselling Is Saving Restaurants
Small world: I first found about Natalia Fedner because her younger sister Emily is a food blogger and cook (she has a pasta pop up). Clearly a very talented family: Ukrainian-Born Designer Natalia Fedner On Why We Must Continue Rallying Behind Her Birth Country
Writer Rebecca Firsker was laid off at Food52 and this was one of her last pieces. It’s great: A Seder menu for under $25!
Hopefully I will be in LA in June and Pizzeria Sei is on my list.
Recommendation Station is the TNHS advice column for paid subscribers. Have a question you want answered? Reply to this email or send me a message on Instagram. I’m here to help. I’m running low on questions so please give me a shout if you’ve got one.
Q: Do you have tips for making friends in a new city?
A: With the caveat that I haven’t moved to a new city in a while (I grew up in Queens, went away for college in Philly and a job in Guatemala and moved back here in 2016), I can offer some advice because I do love making friends.
First, be open about your search. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Tell everyone you know that you’re moving somewhere and see if they have anyone should meet. From there, you can set up coffee dates or drinks or walks. Some will be meh, some will be great. You can send a mass email, like I did after getting laid off, or post to your close friends Instagram story, whatever format works. I’ve never used Bumble BFF but I have some friends who’ve had success with it, so that’s another option.
Second, go places! I know it’s hard with the weather and the pandemic, but being friendly in a yoga class or coffeeshop can result in real friendships! I speak from experience. Also, if you’re a fan of a podcast or comedian who does live shows, those can be great places to meet someone as you have a common interest. Lots of podcasts have facebook groups where you can put out the call for people in a city.
Third, be a friend! If you make new friends, introduce them to people you already know and don’t be afraid to initiate things and set up a pedicure date or walk.
Making friends takes time so be patient with yourself. Your people are out there.
I’ll be off next week as Dale and I are taking a vacation and I’ll be back in two weeks to kick off a series on registries, which I don’t think should be restricted to marriages.