The Emotions of Being Furloughed
by Alex George
Apr 1, 2020
Being furloughed brought a whirlwind of emotions as my professional world flipped upside down.
9:00 am - Monday
A call comes in, that if I’m completely honest with myself, I was begrudgingly expecting. It was the start of remote work week four and my position was being furloughed.
For those of you that aren’t completely familiar with a furlough, it’s a temporary employee leave as a result of the special needs of a company or employer. They are usually used in times of economic uncertainty, and in this case, a direct result of economic pressures on my industry from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
9:25 am - Acquiescence
I sat in silence in my home office absorbing the moment, unlike anything encountered before. I had accepted that this is my reality and understood why it happened. In reflection, I am not against the business practice of furloughing, nor hold any business in contempt that must take this measurement. Leaders are entrusted to do what is in the best interest of the company, and as a furloughed employee, it’s the role I’m assigned to help our business through this tough time. I accept it.
11:00 am - Confusion
I spent the next bit of time rolling around on the floor with my 11-month-old while continuing to think. Questions like - How did the furlough selection process go? Who else from our team was furloughed? What steps should I be taking to set myself (and our family) up for success during this time and into the future? Logistically, I was already planning, but emotionally I was more confused than ever.
You might be thinking to yourself, confusion isn’t an emotion. You’re not wrong. Paraphrasing Gandhi - confusion is the lack of feeling or understanding your current emotion; when you’re stuck between two or more of those feelings and don’t know how you should feel.
Which is exactly how I felt, and how I knew it was time to get outside.
12:15 pm - Relief
Nothing quite helps me clear my mind like a run.
During that first couple of minutes, while warming up, I began to push everything out of my mind, clearing it as much as I could. Then as the run really started to hit a stride and I entered a flow state, the reintroduction of thoughts and feelings began to happen more clearly. Frustration - Rejection - Realization - Empathy for others in this position. With every stride, I continued processing the many emotions that had left me baffled before.
As I entered the final stretch, a feeling of relief finally emerged. The sense of knowing, rather than speculating, and a path forward into the immediate future puts my mind at ease.
1:30 pm - Determination
Returning home in a new state of mind, I ate a quick lunch, showered, and was ready to put this plan into action. The practice of diving whole-heartedly into a project was comfortable, refreshing and therapeutic. It allowed my mind to get back into a short-term, mid-term and long-term mindset. By the end of the day, I was able to feel some pride in what was accomplished that day - which is my personal goal every day.
8:00 pm - Hopeful
It had been quite the day.
My wife asks, “So, how are you feeling?”
I’m Mentally, emotionally & physically spent, but as I think about my current state of mind at that moment, I reply, “Hopeful, Confident & Excited.”
I’m hopeful about the things that are out of my control, that they work themselves out in due time and the world can get back to a new normal. I’m confident that regardless of what life throws at us, we will rebound, stronger and better equipped every time. And (believe it or not) I’m excited to see what I can accomplish during this furlough.
Note: Feel free to reach out if you’d like to learn more about my furlough plans.