Things You Only Know If Redundancy Was Your Silver Lining

When she lost her job, Eleanor Tweddell was distraught – but it became the best thing ever to happen to her

Eleanor Tweddel

by Eleanor Tweddell |
Updated on

When I put down the phone, I became aware of silence. No noise, no movement... no job. They said my senior management role was being made redundant. So I was out.

I sat on the sofa in shock. A few tears, a few ‘Why am I so upset?’ and ‘I’ve ruined Christmas for everyone.’ It was 20 December 2016. No one would be in the mood for talking employment opportunities. More than anything, I felt alone. Then I felt immediate action was required. Apply for everything. Register on Indeed, LinkedIn and with recruitment agencies.

Three weeks and 32 applications later, the rejections were coming in thick and fast. And that’s the thing: you feel it’s best to apply for as many positions as possible, but that only leads to even more rejections.

I got busy. Things to do, people to see. How did I ever squeeze in work? Meeting friends for carrot cake and morning coffee became compulsory. Meanwhile, the battle for self-belief continued. Of course, losing my job was not personal, I’d tell myself; of course I was great at my job. But then the doubt would creep in. Followed by panic at 3am. ‘Every day is a new chance’ – I have a poster on my wall now that says just that. But it didn’t feel like that for a long time.

After several months, an interview! The relief. This role wasn’t quite what I wanted – a bit less pay, not quite as senior, not quite as interesting. But I could do it. I gave it my best shot. Showed ultra-keenness. I needed it. Money and self-esteem were running low. A week later they called. It was a no; they wanted someone with more ‘hands-on’ experience. I shed more tears. The feeling of letting my family down was immense. The applications went on, for months, and I spun around in circles finding myself getting upset at small, tiny incidents, berating myself for my failures.

Then one day I went for an interview for an amazing job – a senior role, more money, more responsibility. As I drove home I thought about it. ‘Why do you want this job?’ they had asked. I’d delivered my rehearsed answer with enthusiasm and conviction. Except the real answer, deep down, was, ‘I don’t want this job. I need the money.’ I thought about that all the way home.

I had to stop applying for jobs I didn’t want.

I don’t want these jobs. I don’t want this life any more. I had to stop applying for jobs I didn’t want. I needed to think and reset.

That night an advert for a workshop that offered a fresh way of viewing the world of work appeared on Facebook. I felt I had to go, even though money was tight and my self-esteem low. A few days later, I found myself on a farm surrounded by artists, activists, entrepreneurs, people who wanted to change the world. What was I doing here? A corporate reject with no story and no mission. I sat on a straw bale talking about life and taking risks – or indeed if they are risks or just things we must do.

On the drive home I knew I no longer wanted a corporate life. I started to write about how I felt. I got brave and messaged people I’d like to talk to. Some never responded, others did. Small boosts of hope.

After six months, a freelance opportunity came from an unexpected source. A bit of money came in and along with it a lift of confidence that this might be OK.

Losing my job was an unexpected jolt. I thought my life had been heading in a very safe, defined direction... and that one day I’d get around to doing something a bit more interesting. Then came the moment that said, ‘Take this and do something with it.’

I didn’t want to lose my job but that was taken out of my control. How I responded was completely up to me. And the more energy I put into finding a solution, the more reward I got. Eventually, I was inspired to start up my own company, Another Door, to provide advice and support to people going through redundancy.

The need to earn money understandably drives us to make one-dimensional decisions. But the way we earn can be our choice. No matter what our background, you will meet someone who has been where you stand and who took a different path. Redundancy might be the pause we never knew we needed.

Eleanor’s book, ‘Why Losing Your Job Could Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You’ (Penguin Business) is out 5 November

Read More:

The Reality Of Being Made Redundant In Your 20s

Things You Only Know If You Earn Significantly Less Than Your Friends

How Does It Feel To Make Somebody Redundant For The First Time?

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