Finding Sparks of Joy Amidst the Layoff Era
In this open column submission, Fella Novianty contemplates what matters most to live with whatever is left during the pandemic that is followed by a series of layoffs.
Among other things, which are mostly awful, one of the pandemic’s aftereffects is the layoff phenomenon. It has strangely helped me reevaluate many of my life’s perspectives. One of them is the realization that the common mindset of “work isn’t meant to make you happy, it’s meant to be done so you can use your paycheck to afford things that make you happy” may not only be outdated but also a little peculiar. I used to live by that motto, thinking that it doesn’t matter if I have to spend more than half of my awake time every day dealing with things that are less interesting than my leisure activities. Because at the end of the day, I get paid for it, and I can then use my income to afford things that not only I genuinely love, but also won’t be able to afford otherwise, such as traveling or going to music festivals.
But I never noticed how sad that idea might sound until we faced the pandemic.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, which was followed by the layoff phenomenon, we probably never fully realized that there’s very little guarantee that our future plan, which might sound like another straightforward, regular plan, would work out just because it had always worked for other people from different timestamps in the past. After all, who would’ve thought that the future of many activities would change in a blink of an eye? The possibility of a global event that would affect all of our lives simultaneously might sound like a sci-fi movie plot that would never occur in our lifetime, yet it already does.
Some of us were already stuck with the habit of promising ourselves to compensate for our daily struggles once it’s time for a long-overdue holiday. But the future is never guaranteed. Only today is. Thus, isn’t the most logical thing to do is to shift our main source of joy to everyday things?
We can’t rely on our chance to be able to wander the globe again to feel fulfilled. We can never just decide to postpone our happiness until it’s holiday time. We can no longer just click snooze on the reminder to enjoy life until it’s one of those 25 days in the year we’re allowed to be out of the office. It’s even more pathetic because I frequently forget that it’s already the 25th of the month, when my bank account sees the light of day because I no longer know when I’ll be able to put it to use in something I truly enjoy doing.
It made me realize how pivotal it is to build day-to-day surroundings and activities that not only support our well-being, but also allow us to feel good every day. So, we don’t just rely on the very few days we get to be work-free, and that’s also if our desired plans still have a shot at taking place. Because, remember, pandemics affect almost everything.
Even without the pandemic effect, doesn’t it just make us more aware of possible future events and occurrences that could prohibit us from executing our plans, be it as small as conflicting schedules, or a major one like a global climate crisis? As unlikely as we thought it was, we’ve lived through a long global pandemic that affected everything, and what’s stopping the world from another hiccup that prevents us from making our seemingly foolproof plans come true?
The pandemic makes me realize that everyday things matter the most, because it’s the only thing we can count on for as long as we’re still walking on Earth, which we even have today.
Obviously, drastic changes such as losing jobs or switching jobs to suit your true calling may not be a privilege that everyone can afford. But it might be a good time to start thinking about building a side hustle or a platform of some kind that you feel genuinely inspired by and excited about, where you could potentially work full-time in the future.
For those of you who are not affected by the layoff phenomenon, and for those who are lucky enough to have a healthy work environment, that idea of quitting barely crossed your mind. At the same time, I know you’d feel more fulfilled if you could do something else, although that doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for what you have. It doesn’t mean that you would want to leave your current job, right? But hey, it’s still worth investing your time and effort to do research on things that you feel more suited for, that you know by heart what you were really built for, and that you would probably tick one of those boxes in your quest for a complete ikigai. Or how about starting to think about how we might be surprised by another worst-case scenario to come?
Until then, it might be okay to spend most of our time in a week hustling while we look for a way to balance our needs for a stable income and a craving for doing something that truly sparks our joy. The fact that most people may not be working on something they’re sincerely thrilled about, doesn’t mean it’s the way working is supposed to feel.
Or maybe your current job will grow on you so that you won’t feel the need to escape from it every once in a while. But maybe, it will just stay the same. On the other hand, maybe your priority will switch from financial goals to just feeling good about living, and that probably means sailing away from that old routine. In the meantime, preparing to figure out what we’d want to do by then is perhaps the best way to go about it.
All in all, the pandemic, the layoff phenomenon, taught me that life should consist of a smaller, yet consistent, day-to-day speck of bliss, instead of a bigger yet inconsistent surge of thrill whilst your everyday well-being aren’t well taken care of.