55: They Won’t Eat Us!

55: They Won’t Eat Us!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

They Won’t Eat Us!

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.

~Katherine Paterson

I got a pink slip. Sounds sexy, right? I wish I could say that it was the slinky, sassy kind that one might find in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. But given the state of our economy, you probably know what kind of pink slip I’m really talking about. After all, pink is the new black in this economy.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve had my eye on the market. I’ve also worked in the corporate world long enough to know how these things work. It literally comes down to the dollars and cents of the matter. It’s not personal. It’s business. So over the past few months I have braced for this moment, if not dared myself to embrace the opportunity that will come with my severance package.

However, convincing my nerves to look on the bright side has been an entirely different story, especially on that somewhat sobering morning when I was sequestered in a faraway conference room to receive the news.

On the long walk to that conference room, where a senior leader from New York awaited me, I called to mind a profound conversation with my three-year-old niece, Lexi, just a few days before. She shared a story about this dinosaur café her dad, my baby brother, was taking her to for lunch in Orlando where they live.

“They won’t eat us,” she kept repeating in her sweet little voice. “They” being the dinosaurs.

I wasn’t sure who she was trying to convince, herself or me. Funny, but those were the words that saved me on that seemingly grim morning.

“They won’t eat me,” I mumbled to myself as I walked the green mile toward my impending fate, shuffling my feet like a kid on her way to the principal’s office. The truth being, I wasn’t all that convinced that they wouldn’t.

All I knew for sure was that little Lexi was onto something beyond her three tender years on this planet. When you think about it, no matter how big the proverbial meat-eating dinosaurs are in this life, they won’t eat us unless we let them.

So after working nineteen years for a company I loved, with people I loved even more, I felt numb sitting in that conference room face-to-face with the next chapter of my life. In a big way, after months of much fear and uncertainty, it was somewhat of a relief to finally hear the words out loud and to be assured there is life after a layoff.

Believe it or not, there is a certain freedom that comes packaged in the truth and in the distinct knowledge that, in the end, they won’t eat us!

~Natalie June Reilly

More stories from our partners