3 months ago, at 9am on a Monday morning, I had a meeting with my boss.
I was nervous and excited about the meeting because it was that time of the year in our company – time for promotions and mid-year bonuses. I was excited because I worked my butt off this past year, so I was hoping that my efforts were noticed and I’d be up for a promotion. But there was also the danger of retrenchment. The country is in a technical recession, and there’s been much talk of lay-offs the past couple of months. Even before the official announcement of the recession, the company had been struggling to keep afloat.
I was sincerely hoping that I would be safe from lay-offs. After all, I’m a millennial – business is digital now so I’m a necessity, and I have an Honours degree. I feel needed from a business point of view, even though I believe my boss thinks otherwise.
Mx. Jones such an asshole – bad at communication, passive-aggressive and intimidated by my intelligence and knack for business and creativity. I honestly survived these past 3 years at the company by grace and self-control. There were so many times that I wanted to bitch-slapped the shit out of Jones.
The months preceding that Monday meeting were particularly worrying. I had a sneaky suspicion that Jones was setting me up for failure (and ultimately for being fired) by not giving me briefs on time, not telling me of client meetings or cancellations and off-course, being passive-aggressive. I brushed it off as Jones being Jones, but this time, it was different.
So, 9am Monday morning… I walk into Jones’ office. We don’t necessarily greet each other, unless if weird, fake smiles are considered as greetings.
Jones wastes no time getting straight to the point. I’m told (as per the retrenchment template downloaded from Google search) that I’m a valuable employee… Contributed immensely to the company… No doubt that I have a bright future ahead of me… blah blah blah.
“Unfortunately, you are one of the staff members being retrenched,” Jones finally said.
I felt as though I was being punched in the stomach. I then went numb.
Everything else that was said after that statement was a blur as I sat in that chair, trying to process what I had just been told.
I was in a shock-filled trance, until Jones shook my arm, sending me back to my body to tell me that this is a 3-month notice, and that I should use the time to land another job.
I never realized how retrenchments deeply affect one’s sense of self and security until now. I thought that I had full-proofed myself against being laid-off by being young and educated. After all, I believed, retrenchments only happen to staff in their 50s.
I feel scared because the 3-month buffer is coming to an end and I haven’t secured a new job yet.
I feel like a failure, especially considering that my peers are seniors in their firms or are entrepreneurs or they’re pursuing their MBA’s overseas. I’m wondering how I’m going to survive once my savings run out, and whether or not I’m as good as I say I am at my work. My generation is the successful, wealthy, society-changing Mark Zuckerberg-type of generation, and now, I’m far from that.
Perhaps this purpose mumbo-jumbo we’re feeding ourselves as millennials about our careers is nonsense. I feel like another cog in the capitalist machine, useful for one minute and discarded the next.
And Jones could’ve done better by me. If you’re going to fuck an employee over, at least have the decency to do it with respect. Don’t set me up to fail while treating me like a non-entity.
I’d love to wallow in depression and sleep the whole day, but I literally can’t afford to. I have to keep my head above the water by sending out my resumes and keeping the faith.
More than that, I have to figure out what I really want to do with my life.
*image from Pexels.