How Getting Fired Became a Fond Memory
Okay, I admit it — it hasn’t always been a fond memory. In fact, the day that it happened was one of the lowest points of my life. I felt like a failure. I felt ignorant. I felt embarrassed. But
that low moment led to discovery and validation.
Let me back up a bit.
I was fresh out of college — a marketing degree under my belt, writing awards in my pocket. I felt like I could handle any marketing job that I was offered. Problem was, that marketing job didn’t come. Instead of continuing on the path towards a marketing professional, I became the Store Manager of a retail store that sold collegiate apparel and gifts. I was surrounded by incredible people on my team, but my store was a disaster. The displays were old and in need of repair, our location was hidden in the corner of a mall and had no foot traffic, our prices were too high and we only made money because we had a monopoly on the town. I did the best I could with our displays and merchandising, brought up topics like our desired target market and advertising needs and built camaraderie within my team. Despite my circumstances and despite my attempts to fix what was in my control, I was fired on the spot about six months later because our sales were declining.
In the days following, a coworker and mentor of mine told me that losing that job was going to turn out to be a huge blessing in my life. I appreciated the sentiment, but it felt empty to me at the time. However, after some time (and landing a job that I loved), I realized just how right she was. The memory of being fired became a fond memory because it taught me so much about who I was and what I wanted (and certainly did not want) moving forward. Here’s what I discovered:
The type of leader that I did not want in the future and that I never wanted to become. Removed from reality, blind to the needs of their employees, quick to place blame on a single person and unwilling to assess the needs of the company. All attributes that lead to unhappy employees (and unhappy leaders).
The people that you work with make all the difference. I was working a job that I didn’t want, with hours I hated and unrealistic expectations weighing on my shoulders. However, my days at work were, for the most part, happy. I had an incredible team that respected me, worked hard and made me laugh. They became my friends.
The career field I had no desire to work in again. Retail was not for me. I had a hunch about that going in, but it was quickly solidified. You know what else was solidified? The fact that I still wanted to pursue a career in marketing. Sometimes that backwards validation is exactly what you need to keep you moving forward.
Taking a job I didn’t want pretty much turned out exactly how I thought it would (minus the getting fired part); it was a learning experience. In today’s post-pandemic, heading-into-a-recession world, there are a lot of people finding themselves in jobs that they don’t want — jobs that are paying the bills until the world sits itself upright again.
I hope that’s not the case for you. I hope you’re one of the lucky ones in a job you love surrounded by support and professionalism. If that’s you, I encourage you to share this with someone who needs some perspective. And if you’re the one needing the emotional boost, I encourage you to attempt to take an outside view of your situation. Look for the good (small wins count!), things you like and don’t like, and how that can better shape your professional life going forward. Even if you can’t see it now, I guarantee you one day, you’ll look back on this time and realize just how much it shaped you.