Why Getting Fired Was Awesome

When I got fired from my 1st post-college job after working there almost 3 years, I was devastated.  I felt like a complete failure as an adult. This is what I learned and how I got over it.

I have always been competitive. I always prided myself on grades, always competing with my sister; playing sports, competing with rival teams and my own teammates; my friends, competing who is the most liked, has the coolest boyfriends, hair, clothes, etc… I never really felt like I “won” at any of these things. My sister always had the better GPA, I wasn’t a starter on the varsity basketball team, I only had one boyfriend in high school (he had dyed blonde polka-dots in his hair at the time, coolest guy? Not so much), I didn’t win Prom Queen. The only “victory” I did get was the “Best Looking” superlative senior year but the funny thing is I never had the confidence to claim that award thinking it was a fluke or that the teachers counting the votes felt sorry for me.

When I went go off to college, I continued trying to compete; competing to be successful. I wanted to do all the things that my parents, relatives, and teachers were all shoving down my throat on a daily basis; go to college, get a job, make a lot of money and you’ll be successful and live happily ever after. So, I worked HARD in college. I chose to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, not art or graphic design like I first wanted, because that wasn’t as practical and it was too competitive, and I didn’t have such a good track record for that nor did I have the confidence in myself to try something that I may fail at. I went to class, I got mostly all As and Bs, worked 2 jobs, supported myself, got married, graduated in 4 years, and took the first job offer I got starting the Monday following my graduation ceremony.

My husband and I made enough money to be able to buy a new house, 2 new vehicles, new furniture, a big TV and had all those things that I thought that happy successful people had. For some reason, I was miserable. I kept comparing myself to everyone around me and I hated my job. I could barely find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I would have to try really hard to not lose my composure and cry all day at work. I still managed to do everything my supervisors asked of me, I was on-time, I was friendly and helpful to all the customers, and I was friends with all my co-workers. Still, I despised every second I spent there.

I decided to take full week off with my vacation time to just stay at home and take a break from the workplace I hated. It felt amazing and energizing, but first day back I could barely convince myself to get out of bed again. You may be asking why didn’t I just quit? I tried. Something that has also been drilled into me my whole life is being independent and being able to support myself financially. I spent many hours searching for other jobs, I even had interviews but jobs were scarce and no one would hire me. I wanted to quit but I couldn’t just quit without the promise of anther source of income…remember, the house, cars, etc.?

So, I came in to work, my first day back, and at the end of the work day right before we closed up my supervisor and the company CEO asked me to join them in the conference room. I had no idea what we were meeting about but what would happen next never even crossed my mind. I joined them in the conference room and they simply said, “You’re not a good fit for this position and we’re letting you go”. I was dumbfounded and completely lost it. I couldn’t keep my mouth from quivering or the tears from gushing out of my eyes. I thought, “They don’t want me?”  “Am I a failure?” “How am I going to pay my bills?” but oddly, through all of that I was there was something in the back of my mind saying, “I’m so relieved.”

So, why did I get fired if I did everything they asked me to? Apparently I’m not as much of an actress. Somehow the cracks in my facade of being happy were showing. In the conference room, my supervisor also told me that he saw how my whole face would light up when I talked about music, which I did often. I had been playing a few gigs and volunteering at a live audience local radio broadcast. He said that he tried to find different projects for me hoping I would latch on to something. I would complete his projects but it was obvious to him that none of them really piqued my interest. The company I was working for was a brand new company in the insurance industry looking for enthusiastic people who were passionate about the mission and ready to shape the future of the company. As the company changed so did the management, and the new management had decided that I no longer fit their needs, which I understood. I even said, despite my loss of composure, that I didn’t really blame them. It wasn’t fair for them to have someone who wasn’t 100% in it.

After a few days of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I felt a renewed sense of clarity. Why force yourself to do something you hate? Why try to be the person that others want you to be if it doesn’t make you happy? Your boss can see right through you and you are not doing them or yourself any favors by staying. Also, who cares about the new house and cars? They don’t truly make me happy, having a genuine purpose and passion in my life does.

So, with my newly found perspective and extra free time, I started volunteering more time for the radio/television/internet broadcast. I even started volunteering as an intern in the administrative office, usually a position for college students seeking credit hours. While unemployed, thanks to unemployment benefits, selling stuff on Craig’s List & Ebay, credit cards, and my husband’s job, we were able to make ends meet. Then 6 months later, I got a call from the broadcast office asking if I would be interested in working there full time. I said yes of course! I hung up the phone and started sobbing. I was relieved, nervous, I felt like my hard work had paid off, and I finally had a genuine “victory” of my own.

The “problems” that I had in high school, I realize, were petty and insignificant. The thing is, I did win then. I did well in school, I had friends, and I never lost the drive to succeed, I just hadn’t figured out a healthy way to channel it. Now, a year and a half since starting I am still working for the same company. I have had so many positive experiences and I really love working in music and entertainment industry. It’s not the perfect job but I’m not miserable and I don’t have to drag myself out of bed anymore either. This job is a great stepping stone. I’m learning about the music business and realizing a new personal goal I want to achieve…be a professional musician and be self-employed. I’m not 100% satisfied with my life now but I’m making steps in the right direction and I feel at peace with my accomplishments. I finally have the confidence to be happy with me and I’m the only one that really matters when it comes to my happiness.

From this I have also learned that it’s nothing but self-sabotage to compare your success with others.  No one’s ideal “success” is the same as yours. I worked on this blog a long time, never thinking of sharing it but just as a tool to help me deal with when I’ve gone through. After finishing it I decided to share it in hopes my story can help someone else realize, you can only be you. You have this one precious gift that is life, make it your own. As long as you are alive, there’s still time, you’re never too old or too young to start working toward your goals or finding your true passion in life. No one can show you how to be happy, it’s inside you, you just have to have the confidence to pursue it!

Photo by angrylambie1

Toni Melton

Toni is a musician, booker, promoter, production assistant, busy bee and sometimes blogger. Find her at www.tonimelton.com and www.indonind.tumblr.com.

Latest posts by Toni Melton (see all)

16 Comments

  1. Good for you!

    Kind of demeaning given the subject matter but {Typo} “After a few days of crying {an} feeling”, lol

    Add on, in one half years. Cheers

    Reply
    • Fixed! Thank you for pointing it out. And thank you Toni for sharing your story.

      Reply
      • Thanks for posting it. I hope others can gain from it. I’ve gotten so much out of all the posts I’ve read on The Change Blog. I’m proud to get to be a part of it.

        Reply
  2. I can sooo much can relate to this. I was put into a similar position recently which made me decide to really focus on what I want to do in life.

    Sometimes we need to have that shove in a new direction to allow ourselves to reflect on what we really want and identify what holds us back from pursing a lifestyle which fully integrates with our passions.

    Having worked for almost 20 years for companies I know what is like to develop the mindset of not believing that you cannot live outside the employment system. Now I have been given the opportunity to grow on my own terms and I now thrive at the new opportunities ahead of me. I am now working 100% on living my passions and although there are plenty of challenges ahead of me, I do not care, because I have developed the belief that I will achieve what I want through persistence, energy and dedication to learn how to love my new journey. Thank you Toni for sharing this post. May great opportunities and thoughts arise from reading it. All the best.

    Reply
    • Thanks Paul for readying and for your great comments. I’m glad that you were able to connect and relate. I look forward to checking out your website http://selfgrowthproject.com/. Cheers to growth!

      Reply
  3. Well done, Toni. What a great story and it truly reinforces the fact that if you believe in yourself, then everything you do in life can be a building block toward something else. Just as your interest in music and radio served as a building block to a new job, your firing also served as a building block to making you stronger. Congratulations!

    Reply
    • Thank you Whit!

      Reply
  4. This is so true. I am glad that you found the right fit for you. I am going through something similar myself and I hope that I can find my perfect job that makes me happy like you have.

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    • Thank you. You can do it too, you just have to strip all the external pressures away and see what your heart really wants. Then let your brain come up with a plan and stick to it. It takes time and courage but you can do it. You have one life, why not do what makes you happy? It’s too short to settle for less.

      Reply
  5. Great post and I have posted it onto my wall.

    I can totally relate – I would leave jobs without having another job lined up and the freedom that I felt was incredible when I would leave.

    It does take a little FAITH but in the end it’s the letting go or getting fired that makes it all worth while.

    In gratitude,
    Nancy

    Reply
  6. Sounds sooo familiar!
    With the only difference that I quit myself without finding new job and still don’t know how things will turn out :)

    But I feel happier, energized and much lighter now. As if I throw away a huge and heavy backpack :)

    Take care

    Reply
    • I wish I would have had the courage to quit without a safety net but the shock of being let go was the fuel to my fire. Good luck with journey!

      Reply
    • Hi Elly, I recently quiy my job also, the toll that it was taking on me was just to much, I gained weight and my blood pressure went up. That was the final straw and the decision maker on me quiting. I feel so much happier, so happy I’ve decided to change many more things in my life such as moving 1800 miles away from home and starting over. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m free to be me. Good luck to you!
      Janae

      Reply
  7. I totally get this competitiveness. I am majorly overly utterly competitive. But I learnt similar lessons but through a slightly different way. Mine was through forced absence from work because I simply could not go physically, wrought with migraines and depression. And now getting sick, leaving my job is the best thing that’s happening to me!
    Noch

    Reply
  8. Wow… I felt like I was reading my own story! Everything was spot on up to the part about being fired, at least so far. :-/ Like you, my boss has told me he can tell I’m not happy, I can’t hide it. You’d think that this would intrigue me to try harder so i’m not fired but I’m so miserable that it feels impossible. I’m searching for my passion and trying to figure out what to do next. Also like you, I believe my passion is in something that makes far less money then what I make now, and I’m working on coming to terms with giving up my generous salary for something that will truly make me happy and be a better fit. I’m glad I found this post and found someone that I can relate to, I’ve felt very alone in my situation.

    Reply
  9. Thanks for this story. I’ve been doing an internship the past four months and I have a week left. I never really liked it and I was barely getting by. Then yesterday my boss told me he didn’t see the drive and passion in me and told me that I am getting a failing grade. I have to stay for another week but I really am dreading it and am feeling very anxious. The only good thing I see to it is that I know what I don’t like. I’m getting kicked out of the co-op program at school and I feel like my life is over :(

    Reply

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