I was laid off at almost 50. Now what?

Yes! I find myself unemployed, but never desperate because I have two very powerful tools.

Romell Avendaño
8 min readFeb 29, 2024
Image from Copilot

I remember my 20s in the mid-90s when being a young programmer analyst, I took my first steps in a local technology company. I did not really like the work I did, however, I devoted a lot of effort and dedication to it because I was learning a technology that is now completely outdated, but innovative and promising at its time (like all technologies), when at the last hour of the last Friday of a month, I was called from human resources to say goodbye. The always kind and smiling RRHH person, now with zero touch and empathy, gave me a rather cold and distant speech based on numbers and company needs, while I signed a lot of papers and received a check.

If you remember a little your 20s (or you are in them) you may agree that at that time we are still very fragile to this kind of situations, where beyond money, what one more resents is the message of rejection, of not fit, that you have not been good enough or have been up to what was supposed to be good.

In his book, Barack Obama mentions how at some point in his presidential career the struggle was so aggressive that almost any political tactic was valid to discredit the other candidates, and although it was understood to be part of the political game and therefore, it is nothing personal, in reality, it’s not what it feels like. It feels pretty personal…

Image from internet

And that’s how I received it at the time, as something deeply personal, like a hook in the liver that in my 20s hurts a lot. That was the first time I was laid off in my life, and the second time was today, and for today I am referring to the Feb-28 /2024.

I won’t say I was surprised because I really wasn’t. I had been receiving signals for months that aroused my suspicion. I had been receiving signs for months that aroused my suspicion, however, no matter how prepared I was (or thought I was) and no matter how humane and politically correct the conversation was, the news was not at all pleasant and I received it as a second blow, but this time it was a hook to the jaw as if to stay on the floor.

But something strange happened…

Now almost 30 years later, with more personal and professional commitments than when I was 20 and with some kind of illness around here or there, I get this blow but with the great difference that I now have two punctual tools to be able to deal with it: projects and grey hair.

Tool 1: Projects — Why are projects important?

To contextualize why for me the most important thing now in this situation is to have projects, I must refer to someone who expressed it much better than me: Roberto Gómez Bolaños. This name, either you recognize it immediately or it is the first time you see it in your life, I don’t think there are many shades of gray in this regard.

Roberto Gomez Bolaños image from internet

Roberto Gómez Bolaños also known as “Chespirito” and to quote him correctly from Wikipedia, “was a Mexican actor, comedian, film director, film and television producer, writer and screenwriter. He is widely regarded as one of the icons of Spanish-language humor and entertainment and one of the best comedians of all time.”

Roberto passed away in 2014, but for all Spanish speakers he is an icon of entertainment and fun that has crossed borders and generations. The “El Chavo” show, according to Wikipedia, has an average worldwide audience of ninety-one million viewers.

In fact, his character from “The Chapulin Colorado” is so famous that even there is a skin (or as it is called) available on Fornite.

But Roberto’s success was not always like this, he says in one of his interviews about his success:

“Everything happened to me late in life. The first time I did something and people half knew me, it was “El Chapulin Colorado” and I was already 41 years old…. and “El Chavo” was 42. That’s what I want to say to those who say: I don’t have a chance anymore. No, no, there is always a chance!”

And especially when it comes to projects, he says,

“I believe that you are young as long as you have projects…and age doesn’t matter…there can be men or women of 85 years old and if they have projects, they are young! Those who don’t have them, even if they are 14, 15 or 16 years old, are old. You have to have projects and fight for them, and obviously good projects!”


That is why it is so important for me to have projects, that is why I do not feel hopeless in this situation of unemployment at 49 years old, because I have projects, ideas, things that I am doing and others that I want to do. I don’t know if they are all good, but I am definitely fighting for them in the way and time that I can. Having projects keeps your spirit full and your mind busy. It’s not that I don’t worry about the future, but on the contrary, what I do is to trade a little of that worry with what I’m sowing now, with the faith, hope or whatever you want to call it that it will give me fruits and shadow later on.

I will comment on some of my projects:

  • AWS: I like studying and more, if it’s technology stuff, that’s why about 4 months ago I designed, planned and run a weekly study program for about 20 people, interested in getting AWS basic entry certification for non-technical roles, I mean the AWS CLF-C02 certification. I wrote a post about it that I’ll leave you here.
  • Obdisian Vault PreLoaded (AWS CLF-C02): The product of this study program I started to develop an Obsidian Vault with pre-loaded content that specifically allows others to begin (several steps later) their own study and discovery in this certification. Here’s the information on that Vault if you’re interested.
  • Photography: I like photography and have learned empirically over the years. Best of all, I’m still an apprentice, but I love going out with my camera and doing something of Street Photography or architecture. Then, when I get home, I review, sort and edit them a little, and I upload some of them to an Instagram account (a little oxidized now) called KickTheStreet.
  • CloudGuru: At the end of last year I purchased an annual subscription from CloudGuro to improve my technology skills, the range of possibilities there is incredible.
  • English: I am a Spanish speaker, so to improve my English I have two strategies ongoing: one, private classes 2 times a week with a wonderfull teacher, and two, writing in Medium (in English of course). Both activities have helped me improve my reading, writing and pronunciation understanding.
  • Drawing: I paint occasionally with aquarelles and I also like to draw doodles. Again, nothing professional, just because I like it and it relaxes me.
  • PKM: I’m obsessed with knowledge management systems and have devoted a lot of time and effort to understanding the nature of how we take notes about the information that is relevant to us and the importance that writing has in the development of intelligence and thinking. I have gone from Zettlekasten to more elementary systems for taking notes, like BUJO (Bullet Journal) or similar and with tools both digital where Obsidian is my favorite, as well as the always reliable paper and pencil.
  • Exercise: I take care of both my mind and my body, making aware not only the way I train (very different from my 20s), but also being very aware of what I eat.
  • Reading: I love reading and read almost everything. I have a predilection for two major genres: literature a little more scientific without really considering the subject matter and a few years ago I discovered that I love the Ken Follet-style historical novel. These genres complement each other very well when you want to understand the world and because some things are as they are. Of course I enjoy a good police novel.
  • Applying for other jobs: Last but not least, this option of course still stands. I’m very good at what I do and I have experience, studies and people who support it. I just have to be assertive that the place where I want to work is the right place for me. Be a win-win with the organization.

    Obviously some of these projects are personal and others more professional, some are hobbies or things that I just like. Some may turn out to be something, or nothing. The point is that they largely reflect my many interests and keep me inspired.

Tool 2: Gray hair — Why gray hair matters?

Image from Copilot

Gray hair matters because it speaks for itself. They speak of experience, of the confidence you have gained in yourself, of the sum of your successes and also of your failures, of the knowledge you have, of who you are and what you are worth, of what you have achieved and what you can achieve, of your purpose, your values and principles, in general and to summarize: gray hairs make an important difference in the way you receive and handle the surprises that life gives you as you try to live it, surprises like, for example, suddenly being unemployed at almost 50.

So, if in my 20’s I felt that maybe I could be the cause of my own dismissal because of my own inexperience, incompetence or low self-confidence, in my almost 50’s I am sure it has nothing to do with me or my professionalism, much less questioning my knowledge or my value as a person, but on the contrary, I understand that it is indeed just business, and in business sometimes loyalties and relationships (especially the contractual employer-employee type), are very sensitive to money, red numbers, economics and certain interests.

My 20-something self suffered from a huge fear of unemployment, fear of an unknown future, fear of what people will say, fear of pity or criticism. My current self observes all that with a greater objectivity, part challenge and part opportunity. Somehow this feeling of being in free fall, but with the confidence that the net will catch me, allows me to act freely but also with greater responsibility, evaluating the steps to take, planning, exploring new forms and ways in the exercise of my profession or exploring totally new ones, in a word: reinventing myself, because if there is something certain, it is that even a kick in the ass throws you forward.

I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to dive into this reading. Your support means a lot, and I’m genuinely thrilled you’re a part of this journey. 😊 🤖 🪐

Your thoughts, opinions, and feedback are invaluable to me. I’d love to hear what resonated with you or any ideas you might have. So, don’t hesitate to drop a comment or reach out — let’s keep the conversation going!

Until next time wonderful readers. 🚀 😎



Romell Avendaño

Life is a DIY project, that's why I write about technology, innovation, productivity and more. Also I'm Obsidian Fan and I assure you I'm not a robot) 🤖