What I learned when I lost my job

I’ve always been an overachiever. I’ve been a writer, editor, and educator in the corporate, nonprofit, and public education sectors. I’ve never received anything but good reviews and praise from employers. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when this all came to a crashing halt. I had left a position in corporate communications and taken a job at a small agency that does mainly direct mail fundraising for non-profit clients. This will be great, I thought. The perfect marriage of my nonprofit background and my corporate writing experience.

Six months into this position, my new boss says to me, “I don’t think this is the kind of writing that you, as a person, want to be doing.” I say, “It’s not.” We agree for me to leave. And there it is, the dreaded moment. Fired. Let go. Laid off. However you want to spin it, it doesn’t feel good. It feels like the absolute end of the world.

But then that feeling goes away and is replaced by others. If you’ve been unhappy in the job like I was—if you don’t enjoy going to work every day and feeling like a failure, then you wind up being a little relieved. Scared and relieved. But the relieved part is the one to pay attention to here. After that, you start figuring out what matters and what doesn’t. And then, you learn about yourself and have some pretty deep, character-forming epiphanies that you can take with you into the rest of your amazing life. Here’s what I learned

Even if it didn’t work out, you should be proud that you tried it

I tried something new and it didn’t work out. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’ve failed. It just means I’ve figured out what I’m not good at. We can’t all be good at everything.

You know what they say about hindsight? It’s true

Maybe I didn’t love my previous job before this one, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought a lot of the time. When you’re in them, some situations seem interminable and awful. It’s only later that you realize what you could have done differently.

Good work relationships are almost as important as the job itself

Even if I didn’t ultimately want to work at that agency, I left knowing that I had made friends and connections that I could possibly reach out to lately. The people you get to work with are valuable for many reasons, but one of them is that they can help you figure out other opportunities.

A better salary doesn’t always mean you should take the position

When I left my old job, I was thrilled to be making more money. But I wish I had taken other things into account, like what job would fit best with my personality and abilities. Not having my handsome salary anymore isn’t phasing me nor is it making me feel any less smart or less professional.

You are not your job

I’m realizing that neither my job nor my salary defines me. Only I define me. That’s something that’s hard to come to terms with at first, but I’m just as much me without a job as with one.

Your friends are there for you

My friends have been wonderful, and they’ve avoided looking at me with pity or judging. They just want to help. Don’t be ashamed of losing your job. It happens to most people sometime in their life. Friends can help you through.

You’ve got nothing to lose by dreaming big now

I’m going to be okay. In fact, I’m going to be better than okay because I’m finally free to follow my bliss. And that’s what truly matters.

The author of this article has requested to remain anonymous.

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[Image courtesy Office Space]