Losing Your Narrative

Originally published on LinkedIn in February, 2023.

One of the worst feelings when you’re between jobs is the sense that you’ve lost control of your own narrative. 

Instead of being the flippers in a pinball machine, all of a sudden you’re the ball. Randomly being sent in different directions with no self determination hoping you don’t drop between the gap at the bottom.

It sucks.

There’s really no other way to say it. It’s awful and you have no clue when it’ll end. I’ve had the fortune/misfortune of being laid off three times since 2017. The most recent being June of last year. It gets easier and it doesn’t.

You will always have the same fears, insecurities and existential dread after each. People will count their applications and interviews, don’t. It doesn’t change anything and more often than not it says less about you and more about the places that passed on you. More likely, in a few years you’ll realize that the places that passed you up haven’t done much. 

Regardless, it still sucks.

Fortunately you learn from each one and you get to the stage where you can dust yourself off faster each time since you know you’ve survived it before. That is to say, there’s no magic solution that’ll make you happy or ready for a layoff. 

All you can do is push through it. After all, you’re not judged by how you fall off the horse but by how you get back on. Additionally, because of how much more regular layoffs in the industry are now post Covid, shorter stints on your resume aren’t judged as harshly as they used to be (or so I’m told). 

But when you aren’t getting hired, it really really sucks.

The feeling doesn’t go away, the frustration will always be there, but it’s what you do with it that matters. Use that frustration to do something productive instead of thinking about what could have been. Use it to make those people regret that they didn’t hire you. 

For example, do a side project that earns a writeup in AdWeek. Do it multiple times and laugh at how you get more press than your previous agency. It might make you realize that you were better off after all. 

And then you’ll also have new book pieces you can show off.

People I mentor hear me say it a lot (I may have even said it here before), but your story isn’t fully written until you quit. And that’s how you fail. But if you keep pushing and persevere, there’s an infinitely better chance of a successful outcome.

Keep pushing. Keep fighting. And don’t dwell. Just keep moving forward. You’ll be glad you did.

– Josh D. Weiss is a Co-Founder of The Side Show and Freelance Associate Creative Director

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