I am one month away from a big anniversary and that has been bringing up way more emotions than I thought it would. I’m not a super “feely” person, I’m more analytical and logical. But this one is really getting to me.
Almost one year ago, I was fired from my job. I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say I was “let go” or that I had been “laid off” or even that I “lost” my job. My boss fired me.
The pandemic had just hit hard (it was the beginning of May) and many people at my company had already been furloughed. I had a relatively new boss who I had only been reporting to for about eight months. I won’t say my firing was a complete surprise. I knew my boss didn’t like me and that communication had been an issue.
What I didn’t expect was for her to give me less than a month to “improve.” To make matters worse, I was really trying. I was trying to communicate with her better, trying to work with her. It didn’t matter.
I took it hard. If you have never been fired (this was my first time), it is a massive blow to your ego. I wasn’t wanted, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t worth keeping around. Add to it that it was the beginning of a pandemic, many companies had shut down, and no one was hiring. I am in a relatively specialized field, so I knew there was no chance of me finding a full-time job in anything surrounding my field anytime soon. I can’t think of a stronger word: I was devastated.
When your boss says that you are being terminated, effective immediately, they mean it. My work phone was disabled within seconds, my work email was cut off within minutes. Luckily I could still grab all my contacts and start sending messages through my personal accounts. That then started the flood of:
OMG what happened? Why did they do this? We need you, what are we going to do now? How did this happen?
Which only compounded my already-ravaged psyche. It was not a good time for me, to say the least.
I was recently on a webinar where the discussion topic was what to do after a failure. This was a MASSIVE failure for me. So if you have recently been “separated” from your job (or think you are about to be), here are some tips for dealing with this.
Wallow in the misery.
For me, it was pints of ice cream, tears, and escaping to an empty condo for a week. However you need to deal with the feelings, let them rip. Let all the frustration, pain, anger, worthlessness, angst, and sadness do their thing for a bit. I let myself reel and flounder and stumble through all that hurt.
But set a time limit.
I gave myself a week. You can’t wallow in misery for months or years, you have to move on at some point. After that week, I told myself to put on my big-girl pants and start doing something.
Start doing something.
Anything. After your mourning period, move. That may be physically moving or mentally moving. Hopefully both.
We can often get stuck and get into a debilitating “I don’t know where to start” frame of mind, especially when things seem completely overwhelming. The mere act of starting often catapults you into the next thing, or snowballs into something more.
It’s all about taking those first steps. Take a step. Any step.
Reach out to your network.
One thing that absolutely stunned me was not just how much support I got from those I reached out to, but how big my network really was. I knew I had a lot of contacts and people I had maintained professional relationships with, but I never comprehended how much it really was.
Even if you don’t think you have much of a network, I assure you: You DO. Reach out to those in your professional and personal networks. Have a short intro about what happened, and if there is anything you need. For me, it was along the lines of:
Hey, just wanted to let you know that unfortunately, I am no longer with Company X, I’m on the job hunt so if you know of anything, could you pass it along?
It’s been a year and I am not over it. I’m still upset, disappointed, and scared of the uncertainty I’m still dealing with. But I’m doing something and taking actions. I’m not letting it disable me. I’m moving in the right direction (I hope!). I’m not sitting here eating pints of ice cream and feeling sorry for myself.
Okay, I’m still eating the occasional small bowl of ice cream and I still have my moments of self-pity. I’m not perfect, what can I say!
[Related: "I Have No Idea What to Do"]
Chelle Hartzer is a general problem solver entomologist. She helps provide solutions to pest management issues in residential and commercial settings. She deals with all the products, all the equipment, and all the procedures needed to help make field folks more effective.
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I'm a general problem solver entomologist! I help provide solutions to pest management issues in residential and commercial settings. I deal with all the products, all the equipment, and all the procedures we have to help make our field folks more effective. My goal is to gain more tools to help me work better with colleagues and managers and be a better leader in a non-leadership role. Continue Reading
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