Today’s #SameHere Hero: Meg Mraz (First time we’ve spoken about job loss as a factor that can greatly affect mental health – especially when the loss takes place suddenly. While Meg recovered quickly & landed back on her feet, many aren’t as lucky. Even the factors that go into making decisions about our careers we are IN control of, can be very anxiety-provoking. We agonize over the pros & cons of change, & often even when we think we make the right decision, we’re still at risk & the mercy of our new employers, their bottom line, nepotism, politics, & poor form in handling how their decisions affect ppl’s lives.)
“As long as I can remember I had a dream of working in sports, & living in the New York City area. In 2013 after months of interviewing I landed my first job working not just for any sports team, but for the team I grew up cheering for each & every game. I can still remember seeing the # come up on my phone. While so excited, my heart also immediately sunk. I had never wanted something so bad, so not knowing what the call would bring, was extremely anxiety provoking. Almost immediately though, I heard the most rewarding offer in my young professional career. Finally, the job I’d always dreamed of was mine.
As anyone who works in sports can tell you, the job itself can be very tiresome, while also very rewarding. Despite the long hours & difficult situations, the smile never came off of my face. I truly loved what I was doing. Growing up my parents always said ‘love what you do & you will never work a day in your life.’ Following their guidance, I was finally doing something I loved. While I was working within the Guest Experience & Client Retention department, many fans became friends, & some even fam. As years passed I attended weddings, baby showers, & many other fam events w/ the ‘fans’ that I met. We built relationships together, turned negatives into positives & as of today I still keep in contact w/ many of them.
With my immediate relatives being so far away, the arena became my home, & the fans turned into my team family. Being new to the tri-state area my first apt included a 2 hour commute to work using mass transit, & 3 roommates. Of course, it was not my ideal living situation, but all I ever wanted was to ‘make it,’ & I knew this was only temporary.
As time went on, the more contacts I met, the more my professional connections grew. With that as a background, I was offered a position outside of sports w/ a growing company & a way more convenient commute. I couldn’t imagine leaving sports & I was actually upset that someone would even try to pull me from a position they knew I loved so much. I worked so hard to accomplish a dream & to check off a bucket list goal. I finally had it & was still enjoying the same work, years later. After I spoke to the owners of the company that made the offer, I realized they’d be giving me a great opportunity to grow. My professional career & personal life would both benefit from this decision. I took some time to weigh the pros & cons of both career paths. After many anxious & sleepless nights, I decided not to follow my heart, but instead the practicality, & accept the new position outside of sports.
This new position had a fantastic title, increased salary, simple hours & was walking distance to my apt. The few mentors I discussed this w/ all agreed that despite where my heart was, the other factors could make it an easy move to accept. There were many tears between myself & my amazing colleagues that I worked w/ for many years. I knew we would always stay in touch & I would be back at the arena before I knew it! (In a jersey instead of a business suit!)
Fast forward 11 months into my new job, & the position wasn’t exactly what was explained initially. I truly agonized over missing sports, but I still gave 110% each & every day. This new job allowed me to live downtown in a beautiful apt, exactly what I’d always dreamed of. I also had more ‘me time’ to do the things I needed/wanted outside of work. Things then unfortunately quickly changed. It was a typical business day when the owner asked if I would come in to chat. I never thought anything of it, as we would always have quick meetings multiple times a day. I never expected this conversation. All I heard was: ‘We are eliminating your position, you have 3 weeks left w/ the company.’ The rest was just a blur. I instantly thought to myself, I gave up my dream career path for this outcome? How will I pay for rent? How soon can I find a new job? Will I need to move? So many anxious thoughts came rushing through my head – I didn’t even know where to begin. I shared the news w: very few, only my closest friends & fam. I didn’t want to hear ‘you’ll be ok.’ I didn’t want to hear ‘you’ll find something new.’
I decided I would allow myself a week of being upset, feeling the hurt, pain & yes, depression that came from a sudden job loss. After day 3 however of laying in bed & stewing, I thought to myself, you’re better than this! Why keep focusing on the negative, it is time for a new beginning. At that point, I started reaching out to contacts & applying to multiple positions. I reminded myself during interviews not to look desperate & down. But I was crumbling inside w the angst of knowing I NEEDED a job & the bruised ego of being let go.
I was so fortunate that despite my emotional state, the stars aligned & I was able to interview w/ one of the top sports teams in the tri-state area. I went into the interview w/ the bravest face I could put on given the recent events And, before I knew it, I had an offer in writing. I was back doing something I loved! I learned so much in that short time between the good, the bad & the ugly. I found out who my true friends were & most importantly, to always follow your heart (over just the practicality of some logistical upgrades new positions might offer).
These situations happen each & every day, & I know how lucky I was to bounce back so quickly. In the moment, I felt as though my world was falling apart, but in taking stock, I realized I was healthy, I had an amazing support system behind me, & I ‘was going to be ok’ (Even though I never wanted to hear that from someone else).
One of my favorite quotes to live by is ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ Find balance in your life, work hard but don’t let work take over your life. Life is too short for anything mediocre. I learned about who I truly am & that no matter what the situation & how some companies may treat us like pawns, their poor decisions and executions shouldn’t be a reflection of you as an employee or person. No matter the timing, it is never too late to start creating a life that you have always dreamed of, despite the poor form of some companies that make these changes. Embrace the change, embrace the challenge, everything happens for a reason. #SameHere…sudden job loss is not fun, but despite the spiral, it can throw you into, you still have the power when you take stock of the bigger picture, to take back control.