Packing Up My Gear (And Moving On)
What I've learned after getting fired for the first time.
"Clean up your desk and I'll escort you out."
Most people hate their jobs and spend most of their work hours wishing they were somewhere else. No matter how much we hate our jobs, we need them in order to make a living, and we'd rather quit than be fired. I was relieved when I finally got to quit after five years as a cashier, and I was more than eager to start a full-time job in an office. Even though I knew that being a telemarketer wasn't going to be fun or glamourous, I was determined to make a living in such a boring environment. Unfortunately, I only lasted three months before my supervisor asked me to stop what I was doing and follow her to the manager's office. As soon as I heard the manager say "termination", I asked him to repeat what he said in disbelief. He slid the form across the table for me to sign, and I implored him to let me keep the job that I needed. He stated that it wasn't his decision to terminate my employment and that the higher-ups made the decision based on "performance". I purposely took my sweet time signing the document.
Honestly, the next five minutes felt like a march to my execution as I packed up my gear with my supervisor by my side. Everyone in the room knew what was happening and didn't do anything. No one hugged me or wished me well. They all stuck to their work as I gathered up my personal belongings and threw away any junk I had either on my desk or in my drawers. These included a bunch of sticky notes attached to the bottom of my monitor. The only one I didn't throw away said "Don't forget that you were picked for a reason!" with the drawing of a heart, which my supervisor insisted that I keep. She also said that she'd check on me once her shift was over and ensured me that I'd find a new job, even though it took me two years to get a full-time job. I then met up with the manager at the elevator, handed over my key, and walked to my car alone.
Rather than drive straight home, I stopped by a thrift store to buy a costume for a video shoot I had planned for the next day. My friend asked me to play Carrie White for his project after his original actress dropped out, and it was oddly what I needed. Acting has always been my one true love, so I figured the best thing to do in this situation was something I loved to do. It also helped that Carrie was my favorite horror movie and that I always wanted to play the titular character. Covering myself in fake blood and channeling out the telekinetic prom queen's rage really helped me let out my emotions, and I even got paid for it. Sure, it wasn't a lot, but it still helped, as did the nice rainbow we got at the end of the shoot. As I drove home with a towel over my seat, I could tell that things would get better. Oh, and when I went dress shopping the day before, Wilson Philips's "Hold On" played overhead as I worried about my future. Whatever helps, you know?
It has been a week since I was told to beat it, and I've learned a few things about myself.
1.) My job does not define me.
Neither one of my jobs was what I dreamed of having. Who wishes to be a cashier or telemarketer for the rest of their life? I've had life-long dreams of being an actress, writer, and director, but those are not easy to obtain. Although I'm nowhere near the level of success that I wish to have, I've had some success in my area as an actress and a writer despite making ends meet with boring jobs. As I fumbled through the day at both jobs, I thought to myself, "Is this my life? What if I never get the career I want?" After my termination, I was comforted by my family as I collected myself and started job hunting. They reminded me that the jobs I had never defined me. When my sister recommended that I'd be a custodian for the time being, she said that it wouldn't define me. After all, I had the strength and talent for the jobs that I wanted; I just needed to find the opportunities. I'm currently still on the hunt for a job and I've nabbed some upcoming interviews. If I end up getting employed by one of these employers, I know that the job would only be temporary and won't define me.
2.) I need a healthy mindset.
When I was a cashier, I worked in a loud and claustrophobic environment. I was thrilled when I was hired to work in an office because not only would I'd be working in a quiet space, but I'd be able to work from home after some time in the office. Well, they said that I'd work from home in about a month, but then my third month came up and I was told that I needed to convince at least three companies to meet with us per week and then keep that up for a long period of time. That was impossible to do, and the stress ate me alive. I definitely worked better the few times I was allowed to work from home, but it was a nightmare in that office. I stress ate a lot and consumed so much coffee and energy drinks to keep up. My face also broke out constantly, so I kept some cleansing wipes and acne cream in my drawer. The day after I got fired, I immediately hit the gym and stocked up my kitchen with healthier options. I knew that I needed to keep myself healthy and positive as I searched for a new job, and it helped me get out of my post-termination funk faster. Throughout the month of May, I was juggling work, a play in which I got to play one of my dream roles, and my duties as a director in a workshop for a play I wrote. The combined stress might've contributed to my termination, so I'm searching for a job that won't drain so much energy yet still pay well. My mindset never came first until now, and I wish to take it seriously.
3.) I have better things to do.
During my brief employment with my last employer, a friend asked me if I wanted to write a story for an anthology book he was putting together with a group of other writers. He gave us two months to write it, and it took me a month to finally start working on it because I was tired from my job. After I drove home crying last week, I finally sat down to write my story. A few of the writers in the group read it and liked it, and I'm currently reworking it before I turn it in. When I went through some of my thumb drives for a copy of my resume to attach to my job applications, I came across some stories that I've written some time ago. Some were entered into contests, and some were never finished. The same friend who asked me to write a story for his book informed me of magazines that would pay me to write stories. One of the stories I found on a thumb drive was written for a contest two years ago and hadn't been touched since. Knowing that it has potential, I'm currently editing it so I can submit it to a magazine. I also found a novel that I started working on eight years ago and stopped at the halfway point a few years ago. Given that I was only halfway done with it, I plan to finally finish it. I truly have a future; I just need to give myself some time for it.
Like I said earlier, packing up my gear and walking over to the manager by the elevator was like approaching an executioner; I was convinced that my life was over. Sure, no one except maybe my supervisor would miss me, but I now know that I have friends and family behind me as I search for a new job. I have more possibilities and opportunities than I thought I did, and I plan to take advantage of them. Your jobs don't define you unless they're the ones that you truly want, so never stop pursuing the ones you desire. "It gets better" might be such a cliche thing to say, but it's the truth. When one door shuts, another one opens; mine is hanging wide open somewhere.