Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth Pearson on "This Is Us" | Courtesy of NBC
Nothing has accurately portrayed the emotional rollercoaster felt after being laid off from a job like NBC’s third season of This is Us. Beth Pearson, played by Susan Kelechi Watson, is all of us when we lose a job, especially a job we love.
Like Beth, millions of Americans felt similar experiences of confronting the uncertainty of what happens next after a lay off which can include a change of lifestyle, difficulties of job searching and interviewing, and an unfamiliar and unstructured day.
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We knew Beth loved her job, even with the few moments throughout This is Us, where we saw her at work or discussing work. For many of us, like Beth, our jobs offer a reprieve from the daily hardships of marriage and motherhood. In Beth’s case, her job offered structure and a sense of control that she did not always have at home.
Beth’s late father-in-law, William, told her before he passed that she is the bass of her marriage. She would one day need to be a solo trumpeter, and make her needs take precedence. He asked her not to keep quiet when that day comes, because up until the mid-season premiere her needs came last. No one wins when the well is dry, and her job filled her up becoming a lifeline of purpose that she would soon lose.
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Ahead, here are just a few reasons why Beth’s job struggles resonated for so many of us.
The Sting of Betrayal: Watching Beth sit in her meeting prepared to pitch her way to a promotion, but to be later told that they were letting her go, reminded me of my first lay off. It often comes out of nowhere. While you may have sensed the demeanor of your coworkers change, you carry on right until they give you the bad news. It’s hard to let go of something that you aren’t ready to relinquish, and we see Beth struggle through it episodes later. No job is forever and preparing for times like this can ease the pain and transition to life after layoff much easier.
Moving On: Beth had to learn how to navigate life after full-time employment. I know I’m not the only one who teared up watching Beth bomb a job interview. It was like watching a woman who never got over her ex cry over their break up. The wounds were too fresh, and she had yet to give herself time to mourn the loss of her job. Before you dive into your job search, take the proper time to be emotional about it. She lost a piece of her identity when she was no longer doing what she loved, and that’s what we all have to get use to. Beth didn’t lean on her husband, instead, she took that moment to cry in front of prospective employers, better yet strangers. That’s never a good look in my book.
More Than Your Job: Many of us live to work and not work to live. We lose ourselves in our careers, and when it’s all taken away, we don’t know who we are without it. It’s a toxic way to live and we have to find our purpose outside of our job roles. Beth looked like a lost puppy when she took on the role as a housewife. She knew that role was not for her when she struggled to manage her daughter’s Girl Scout cookie sales. Her daughters threw a lot of sass her way, and Beth told her disappointed daughters where they and their cookies could go, and it wasn’t pretty. Managing the home was something that her husband did, and he did it well, and she does not have faith she could fill his shoes. Beth is beyond ready to go solo.
These past few episodes exposed some of the challenges many working women face when their jobs are no longer there. The rollercoaster that Beth is riding shows us that we should always be prepared for a layoff because no job is forever.
Everyone at any stage of their working life, no matter the position should always consider this: What’s your plan B when your job is terminated?
We also learn from Beth that we must find purpose outside of our jobs, so that we don’t lose ourselves when it’s gone. And if you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation, now more than ever is the time to rest, recharge and thoughtfully venture forth into the next chapter of your career.
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