I never thought I would hear the words, “You’re fired.” And technically, I didn’t. I heard, “As our department changes, we are going in a different direction...”
When I got called into the HR manager’s office and my boss was there, I knew they were letting me go. Actually, the moment the HR manager called me on the phone, I knew it.
I tried hard to focus on what they were saying, but of course, all I really wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible.
I felt like a failure. I always did well in school, I’d spent over five years at my previous job, and I had great recommendations. So how could I get fired?
I’ll admit it: I cried the moment I walked out of the building. But guess what? My career didn’t suddenly end that day. I turned the situation into a learning experience, and reflecting now, I know getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Here’s why:
It Pushed Me to Be Honest About My Situation
It wasn’t until after I got fired that I realized I was unhappy (and just been ignoring those feelings). For example, when I told my parents, they said: “Well, you were looking for something else” and “You weren’t really happy there anymore.”
Initially, these responses shocked me. I’d been expecting something more along the lines of “That’s terrible! We’re so sorry!” However, once I reflected on them, I realized they were absolutely right. While I liked the work, I’d mentioned that I didn’t think there was room to grow.
I’d been in denial because it’s easier to stay somewhere then move on. I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone and forced to look for something else. And yes. No longer earning a paycheck was the exact motivation I needed.
It Reminded Me That Being Unemployed Isn’t the End of the World
It’s true: After you’ve been fired, staying positive is easier said than done. There will be good and bad days. After letting it all sink in, I realized I still felt disappointed and hurt, but honestly, I didn’t feel angry. I wasn’t planning on staying at my former job for the rest of my career. Plus, there were times I felt like I didn’t belong anyhow so why would I choose to stay at a place that didn’t want me anymore? Reminding myself that—as hard as it may be—this was the better option , helped me feel better.
With that said, I didn’t wake up every day with this “glass is half-full” perspective—especially on days when the job search wasn’t going my way. And that’s why I also suggest making time for activities or hobbies that make you happy. Working on your resume and interviewing will take up a significant portion of your time, but it’s still important to to refresh and recharge. I allowed myself to take breaks from staring at my computer—even if it was just to take a walk.
It Taught Me the Importance of Knowing What I Want in a Job
You may think the prospect of not working would’ve made me take whatever was available, but it had the opposite effect. Once I updated my resume to include the end date to my former job, it was official. I had to be honest with future employers—and with myself.
Reflecting back, my former company wasn’t the right fit for me. I was micromanaged, which stressed me out and caused me to make more mistakes. I had a difficult co-worker. I didn’t always feel like I could ask questions. So, on my job search, I asked questions about company culture and focused on things that were important to me, like collaboration and delegation.
Now, at my current job, I feel like I’m trusted more when making decisions and the team is supportive and helpful. This makes me happier at work each day.
While getting fired isn’t the ideal situation, it isn’t the end of the world either. As time goes on, it becomes much easier to reflect on the situation. I’ve now been at my current job for eight months and I’ve already been able to learn and grow in this short amount of time. So, even if right now, being unemployed feels like the worst imaginable thing, I want you to know that I’ve been there, and you will get through it. In fact, you may even come out of it happier and (eventually) grateful for the experience.
Photo of person looking out courtesy of joeyful/Getty Images.