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Home » The Unspoken Pain of Job Loss: A Fractured Identity

The Unspoken Pain of Job Loss: A Fractured Identity

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On Tuesday, I was 1 of 1,000 laid off from my role as a product manager at Coinbase.

At first, I felt shock. Even though the industry was struggling, things felt like they were going pretty well for me. I was pretty surprised when I attempted to log on at 8:30 and was met with my macbook rebooting endlessly. Even then, it took me a couple minutes and a few “Hey, are you doing okay?” messages to process what was actually happening (thank you to those that sent those messages, I appreciated it).

Since then, I’ve had some time to process my feelings. The things that everyone fears when you get laid off were at the top of my mind: what was I going to do next? how will I make money? it’s a bad job market right now, will I be okay?

I felt feelings of uncertainty, fear, and a little bit of excitement for what’s next. And yet, there was a lingering feeling that I was really struggling to process.


This is hard for me to say, but I didn’t really want to leave the house. The thought of going to the gym suddenly felt a lot more anxiety inducing than before. I love playing volleyball, and for the first time in forever I skipped an opportunity to play. I didn’t even want to go to the grocery store, or go out to dinner with my girlfriend. I couldn’t really figure out why.

At first, I thought it was because I was feeling sad, and that it was only natural. Of course I didn’t want to do those things, I’m sad— I just got laid off! But in reality, I wasn’t that sad about it. Yes, I loved the job, and I truly loved the coworkers I got to spend the day with; but some part of me knew that this was something outside of my control and that I would just have to move forward.

What I’ve come to realize is that the deeper cut the layoffs gave me is a loss of identity.

I had landed my dream position at an amazing company, and things were going really well. I was given responsibility and trust, and I was succeeding at it. I was proud to be a 22 year old product manager in a trailblazing space. It was cool! And It was something that I’d convinced myself gave me self-worth; it made it easier to walk into places and not feel a spike of anxiety because — yeah, I belong here: look at what I’m doing with my life!

Without realizing it, more and more of my self-esteem started to crystallize around my work identity. I was able to do things because I felt confident in who I was there. I was trusted, responsible, and intelligent at work: so why couldn’t I be in the rest of my life?

One day I was one of the youngest product managers in the most cutting-edge space, and the next day I was not.


Now that I’ve realized how my identity got to be in a fractured state, I’ve reflected a bit on how it got here. Some of it is natural, when you spent 9 hours a day doing something— of course you’re going to associate your sense of self with it to a degree.

Another part of it is realizing that I wanted something to cling on to give me more confidence. I hadn’t felt like I had done many things since high school that I was genuinely proud of (too high self-standards), and getting this role was something I really worked at and achieved.

And yet, I now realize the risk of that kind of thinking. I don’t think I want my work identity to be what gives me my sense of confidence. I would like to be proud of the person I am and the traits I possess: kindness, curiosity, and ambition.  I would also like to be proud of where I am right now, and the person I am trying to become.

I would like to be able to think about myself and go “I am who I want to be, so I should be confident.

45 Days Later

It’s been one month since I was laid off from the role I loved at Coinbase, and it’s been a pretty interesting one. For the first two weeks after, I admit I took it pretty personally. It was a genuinely big blow to my self-esteem and it took some processing before I was able to come out stronger from it. I took a vacation to India and visited the places my parents grew up in— seeing my grandparents for the first time in nearly 15 years. That trip put a lot of things in perspective for me. They didn’t care what my job or job title was, they mostly didn’t understand it. Yet they were still ridiculously proud of me.

I went out of my comfort zone in India, trying to learn new languages and scoring an interview with the CEO of Algorand (which went really well.) I realized that all the experiences and progress I made had gone nowhere, they were not lost. My identity still hasn’t been perfectly molded, but it’s built on a much stronger foundation than it was 45 days ago.

Me and Algorand CEO Staci Warden

Connect With Me

Thank you for reading, and some of my normal audience may have noticed that this isn’t typically what I write about — but it was something I want to share.

You can connect with me on Linkedin
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And you can continue to read my blog! I write about the Algorand Blockchain, and I try to make it beginner friendly and easy to understand. Read my post Algorand Explained: Without Using a Single Crypto Term

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