There is no easy way for anyone to break the news that you’re being let go from your job, especially when it’s your dream job. And especially when you had things planned that you were excited to work on. And people you worked with who you genuinely liked. And a job that, aside from a dream job, was pretty damn prominent in the industry.
But, that was what I dealt with last week when my boss messaged me privately and asked to see me. Given that another coworker in a position similar to mine was let go a few days before, I had already been fighting the feelings of anxiety and worry, but I was trying to be hopeful things would work out. As my coworker said, however, real life isn’t television. And so instead of getting angry and trying to prove your point and burning a building down, when you’re handed an unexpected twist that guts you, all you can do is accept it: smile, nod, be professional and mature. Afterwards, it’s totally acceptable to go outside and stand in a hallway, or go to the bathroom and cry hysterically out of shock, fear and anxiety. (Which I absolutely did. And then I took my Xanax. And then I had two wonderful, amazing friends who dropped everything to take me out for drinks and food when I told them what happened. I am so grateful.)
Life is funny. Life is strange. I’ve had a pretty interesting trajectory when it come to jobs. I fought long and hard after college to find a job in a city I desperately wanted to live in. My second job was a legitimate disaster, but when I got fired, I miraculously was handed my third job, and what would become a stable, wonderful environment for five years. Even when I gave it up to go to grad school, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t choose my career with the intent to work at the company I’m currently at. It was a huge gamble, and a huge risk, and it was a huge stroke of luck, but that happened, too. When I was stressing out over whether or not the current round of firings would hit me, my best friend logically told me that I couldn’t sit around in fear, and then that even if something does happen, things will be okay. Because I always come out on the other side.
Which I guess is is the truth. It absolutely, positively sucks. Since last week, I’ve had a few conversations with coworkers, people who I admire and who have been mentors to me in this company and business, and they’ve all said the same thing: you’ll be fine. It sucks. The way it happened sucks. But this might be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You can do something better. You can work someplace that appreciates your skills. You can start fresh. You can cut your ties and do something great.
Even during the worst of my stint in unemployment, in between leaving my internship and getting my current job — when I sunk to the lowest point I’ve ever been, mentally — things did turn around. It jut took awhile. I’ve had a lot of people ask how I’m dealing with this news, considering how abruptly I was kicked out, and considering what I’m dealing with personally right now in terms of moving and preparing to start a new chapter of things. (My poor therapist…I felt terrible when I walked into her office, on a Friday afternoon no less, and announced that I was let go. She was shocked.) And I guess I’d say I’m handling this better than I thought I would, all things considered. Make no mistake, I’m freaking out about things like how I’m going to pay rent or buy food or even pay for therapy now that I have no salary. There’s an immense amount of guilt I feel with all of this happening literally days before my boyfriend and I move in together for the first time, knowing that all of a sudden, he’s shouldering the burden of our financials. But when I think back to how I was over a year ago, and how much of a mess I was, and how I barely got out of bed for days on end, there’s a difference this time around. Maybe it’s because I’m not alone. Maybe it’s because I have people behind me, amazing friends and support from the industry. Maybe it’s the fact that because I’m moving in with my boyfriend and moving to a new place, I feel like at least something is stable. I wrote an entry about moving awhile ago, where I talked about how part of the reason I felt anxious about moving was because unlike other times I’ve moved or uprooted myself, there’s been something that’s made me feel like I’m closing a chapter on a certain part of my life. With this move, I was going to (at the time) have the same job, the same commute, the same friends. It felt like I was making a scary move I wasn’t prepared for, and I like comfort and familiarity and avoidance, all thing that I have right now in my little tiny apartment in the sky. (As my mom likes to call it.)
And now, days before I move, my job is ending. I’ll leave work on my last day, the moving truck will come the next day, and the next day I’ll wake up in a new apartment and start a new chapter of my life. Maybe this is the way it was supposed to be all along, and things just had to happen at the right time. I’m trying to think of things positively: I was initially worried about having the time to unpack, adjust, even write. I may not have a set job, but now, at least for a little while, I’ll have the time to do that. Maybe it’ll make the whole process easier on my psyche.
Most people know that among the few superheroes I consider my favorites, Hawkeye ranks near the top. There’s a reason why I identify with someone who is constantly beat down by both life and work, who is ordinary and sometimes thinks he’s not meant to be where he is in life. But he’s there because he loves what he does and he knows he has to be good at it. And so you keep going, because it’s what you signed up for. You keep going, even when things beyond your control are trying to pin you down — like aliens.
You can’t control life, and nothing lasts forever. All you can do is step forward, take a breath, and trust someone will catch you when you fall.