Why Getting Fired and Dumped Were the Best Things to Happen to Me All Year
Read this if you’re down in the dumps and want to believe it’s not the end of the world. But feel free to ignore if a happy ending story is going to piss you off. I know I went through both stages. At the end of March, I experienced a few life changes. I broke up with my boyfriend. A group of friends kicked me out. And then I got fired from my job.
After the initial shock, I initially felt intense anger, almost immediately followed by fear. I was able to rationalize away the fear pretty quickly though, because I’d already taken a two-year career break, and thrived. So after spending a few minutes mentally sorting out my finances, I went past the stage of acceptance and immediately to…..relief.
Why I’m Relieved My Life Imploded
The dissolution of relationships and job loss are commonly listed as some of life’s biggest stressors. But even though I felt a range of negative emotions, if I felt sadness or stress, it was only fleeting. The truth was, I hated my boyfriend., those friends, and my job.
For months now, I had been complaining about all of these things (for my job, I had complained for the entire two years) but I was too comfortable to do anything about it. I felt fortunate to have a boyfriend, to have local friends that I saw regularly, and to have a cushy job. So what that I hated spending time with any of them? You’re supposed to fight with your significant other, carefully navigate frenemies, and have Sunday scaries. That’s just life! It’s better than the alternative, right?
The Red Flags I Missed
When you work at a law firm, people never ask you if you like it; they assume you don’t. But at any other job, people ask if you enjoy your job. And from my first few months, I was hesitant to answer the question because I already felt like I hated it. I wanted to give it a fair chance, but I couldn’t shake this uneasiness about my job. And then I figured it out.
Recently, I was reading Kevin Kelly’s Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier, and one piece of advice was my main takeaway from the whole situation:
Don’t ever work for someone you don’t want to become.
This should have been a big red flag in my job because I absolutely did not want my boss’ job and I absolutely did not want to become my boss. I also didn’t want to be any one in the management. I felt uneasy about the legal advice we gave. I was told constantly to limit my focus to the task at hand and not think about the practical consequences of the legal advice we gave. We were being admonished to use our creativity to interpret the law beyond any semblance of what the actual meaning of the law could have been. I didn’t feel like I was learning new things; I felt like I was regressing.
I remember talking to someone once who thought the working for the Department of Defense was unethical. While I did not agree with this thought, what was most surprising to me was that this person actually worked for the Department of Defense. I thought to myself, I would never want to work for one minute in a job that I thought was unethical. I was so pious back then. But it’s so easy to let your values slip.
The Jobs and People You Should Avoid
I learned quickly with my last job that, though the mission was not unethical, the way that the legal office worked was not, in my opinion, ethical. My thinking with my previous job was that I would take a year to figure out what was going on, a year to figure out how to fix it, and a year trying to fix it. As a new attorney, I didn’t have much power to effect change. So that would mean climbing the ladder.
Although this quote seems to apply only to the employment situation, it actually applied to all of them. When I hated about all these situations was that I couldn’t stand the people. In my job, hated that this group of friends, whom I had introduced to each other, regularly excluded me from activities. And I hated that my boyfriend would try to mansplain my area of law to me.
And again, though it seems really obvious that I should have left all these situations, I wasn’t courageous enough to do so of my own volition.
You Become The People Around You
When talking about careers, we talk a lot about choosing between following your passion and finding gainful employment, surrounding yourself with a network of successful people to get ahead, and how to find a spouse that is on the same page as you financially.
There are many ways to pursue your passion and find gainful employment. There are countless ways to make a buck that can be fulfilling and lucrative. The older you get, the fewer choices it seems we have. But it’s really not true in America that we are confined to one job or one career.
We don’t talk enough about the kind of person you become when you are pursuing your goals. We don’t talk enough about how the person you marry, the person you work for, and the people you associate yourself with – all these people affect who you will become, who you are currently becoming.
Don’t Let Golden Handcuffs Dictate Your Life
My friend said he has six years to go in his job before retirement. That’s not that long, but he’s extremely bored with his job. And six years is a long time to be chained to your job. I talked about this with a friend who knows more about the pension system. He said that the calculus makes financial sense… for my friend. It would be a slog but he would lose too much to quit not. But for me, with so little invested, it would make zero sense to stay.
In a way, I’m happy not to have a pension system rooted in staying in one job for a long time. Because I would hate to have to make these calculations – where I’m trading in blocks of my life for money. I mean, yes I work. But I’ve already done the working long hours for big bucks. And when I quit, I know I couldn’t live like this even for a few more days.
Conclusion – Why I’m Relieved My Life Imploded
I’ve made some new friends. I can’t tell for sure if they’ll last or be good for me. It’s too early to tell. Within two weeks of being fired, I got a new job that I love. Because of my new job, which is clear across town, I moved clear across town. Many of the friends that I lived closest to had dumped me anyway. I had never considered moving before, but it made complete sense to be closer to my job, my activities, my family, and my current friends. I live down the street from my sister now and there’s A LOT of family time. Some would say too much. I would say too much. =D
I’ve started dating someone who I think is pretty great. And the funny thing is that he lives right at the edge of the geographical boundary from where I live. If I hadn’t moved, we may never have met. So it’s true what they say that you can’t make way for new things if you’re holding on to the old. Fortunately for me, the old didn’t want any more of me. So in with the new.