Remember my secret number one goal I had for 25? I can finally let you in on that secret: I wanted to find a new job and leave Pittsburgh. The only thing that was really stopping me was that I was comfortable. Too comfortable, really. And safe. I am 25, living at home, no bills or expenses. Basically the only difference between 25-year-old Cassie and 17-year-old Cassie was the fact that I went to my job all day instead of school. Oh, and I typically cook for myself.
It’s no secret I don’t really love Pittsburgh. I love living so close (ahem, in the same house) as my family and friends, Pittsburgh sports and the opportunities the city has afforded me. I love my rituals: Saturday morning runs, Amazing Yoga, way too many chips and way too much guacamole at Mad Mex. But I don’t love the weather – I can’t be cooped up from January until March and I can’t handle the humidity in the summer. I want to be near the water so I can go surfing. I want to be able to drive an hour to experience something completely new. I need a change.
We’ll get back to that though. This is about what to do when you’re laid off. Because that is exactly what happened to me on October 7th. If you follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat, you’ve probably inferred that something is up (probably because of a bunch of drunk tweets Sunday night, but like that kind of happened for another reason). I won’t say anything negative about my former employer because a) I’m not dumb b) I couldn’t have asked for a better first job and such amazing boss(es). Truthfully, they just forced me out of the “Cassie safety bubble” by making the difficult decision I couldn’t.
It’s also not a secret that the retail landscape isn’t great right now, so I kind of expected this to happen. I didn’t expect it to happen to me, but if I had to do the math, I understand why one of these positions that was eliminated was my role. When the rumors started spinning that there were going to be layoffs, I joked that it was going to be me, cleaned out my desk (for other reasons as well that I will explain later) and knew exactly what was going down when I got a meeting request with my VP and HR Monday night for Tuesday morning.
Monday night after I got the meeting request, I just decided to go to the gym as planned and continue with my life as normal. There wasn’t anything I could do about it, I wanted it to happen and I was expecting another phone call in the next day or so that would alleviate anything that happened in this meeting. I won’t lie though – I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t sleep Monday night. I thought about what I would wear, what I would do, what I would say. “What do I wear to get laid-off?” I texted my girl friends. The consensus: The best outfit I’ve ever worn to work.
Tuesday morning, I woke up before my alarm and did my normal Tuesday morning speed work out. I listened to Yeezus, because I always run to Yeezus when I’m upset or angry about something. I came home, showered, washed my hair and wore a black wrap dress, black knee high boots and a maroon scarf because I didn’t want the total funeral vibe.
Walking to the office from the parking garage, I thought “I wonder if this is what Marie Antoinette felt like walking to the guillotine – nervous for what is about to happen but relieved that it is all about to be over”. I walked straight up the back staircase (per usual) and right to the conference room.
I went in the room before HR & my VP. The packet of tissues and notebook on the table gave it all away. “Welp, I know what’s going on here” I thought to myself. They told me what was going on and I said “Okay.” They looked at me horrified that I was taking it so well and I just mentioned that I had something else in the works, not to worry about me. I thanked them for all the opportunities I had been given and that I couldn’t have asked for a better first job. I turned in my corporate phone, credit card and badge and they walked me out. That was it. Less than 15 minutes and the last three years of my life were over.
I walked out the door of the office for the last time. I did start crying at that point – out of relief. The anxiety of the past 15 hours was gone. I decided walking back to my car that I needed to go buy a bottle of champagne. I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing – I was disenchanted with social media, bored with the routine and not feeling challenged. I came into work each day for my cushy paycheck and that was about it. They had made the hard decision that I wasn’t strong enough to do on my own.
Luckily, Erin was working from home that day so I met her for a coffee. I was still nervous that I wouldn’t get the phone call I was waiting for, but I suddenly felt a sense of relief. I was at peace for the first time in a long, long time. I was free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I decided then that if I didn’t get the call I was waiting for, I would take some time to travel, maybe to Central or South America or Australia.
Unfortunately things didn’t pan out for me to take a holiday.
What do you do when you’re laid off? You take it gracefully. You understand that it’s the company, not you. Keep your attitude positive. If I wasn’t going to make jokes and laugh about this situation, I would be spilling way more tears than needed. The world works in mysterious ways, even if you don’t understand why something is happening, you should know that it is happening for a reason. Trust me, my life has been turned on its head about 5 times in the past week. I have to understand that this is all leading me to something bigger and better.
Thanks for the memories, AEO. I had a lot of really, really awesome opportunities. I got to fly on a private jet! I got to go to Coachella! I went on photo shoots and did a lot of really cool projects. I even coordinated an entire shoot myself this summer. And most of all, I met some really amazing people. If it wasn’t for this job, I wouldn’t have met Emily, Lesley or Angela and probably wouldn’t have started this blog. I am going to miss everyone at AEO – and in Pittsburgh – so, so much.
PS: Looking for photos for this post made me so sentimental.
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