Of Layoffs, Despair, and Fear

I recently wrote my son, who has left the house and is on grand adventures, an email/letter that had two Sam/Frodo quotes, which I’ll share below. This excellent post on LinkedIn by Robbie Nielson, who was laid off this week, referenced Bilbo and The Shire.

Layoffs are hard. A local company recently announced a 20% reduction in force, which impacts 400 employees (I multiply that out by 4, assuming an average of a 4-person household, which means at least 1,600 people are impacted, not to mention worried parents, siblings, etc.). I wrote this post as I thought through and processed the news:

Just Starting a Job Search? Do this ASAP!

That post is super long. Basically it says that instead of getting into the logistics of the job search right away, process your emotions and feelings. Be human. Understand you are going to do hard and uncomfortable things (like network, ugh!!). Realize that right now is an excellent time to rethink your future and create a vision for yourself moving forward.

And then work on the logistics. Work like you’ve never worked before. Work on your job search like your rent or mortgage payment depends on it!

I get the emotions of losing a job. I get the emotions of not finding a job after months of trying. Spinning wheels. Frustrated. Losing self-confidence.

Read that post above… that’s where my heart is.

Back to Lord of the Rings, here are two powerful quotes that can apply to all of these emotions in the job search, which really, is a crazy, hard journey.

Sam: This is it.

Frodo: What?

Sam: If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.

I love that Sam even knew where that line was. It was so significant to him. Living in The Shire was a life of peace, normalcy, stability. Taking just one more step could, would very likely, break through all of that protection.

This happens when you start your job search. Because it’s a time of self-reflection, you might see and face things you don’t want to accept. But it’s the right time. Take that one more step. The truth is that your Shire never really was safe and secure. No matter how long you have been there, there has always been the threat of losing it.

Taking the step leads to growth, resilience, and a path where you can create your own “safety.”

The next quote was this:


Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”


I can’t do this, Sam.


I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.


What are we holding on to, Sam?


That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

You are worth fighting for. A life with a lifestyle, being able to provide, having a sense of pride, and some kind of stability or security, that is worth fighting for.

Is it scary? YES. YES. YES.

But step out onto the road and really, there is no telling where you’ll be swept off to.

Read those two quotes again…. and think about them as they apply to your job search.