There’s been something I have wanted to share with you for a little while now.
I kept it to myself because people told me sharing my experience online could be bad for my career.
My mission here on the blog has always been to help people. Consequently, if I can help someone in the same situation by sharing my story, I’m going to write about it.
For readers who don’t already know, I started a new full time assistant position in October last year. Near the end of March this year I was called into an office for an impromptu performance review and my employment was terminated.
In short – I was fired.
I’m not going to launch into a rant about my former company, that won’t help anyone. What I will say is that I know the termination was not deserved. I know I didn’t do anything wrong.
This post is about how to deal with the complex range of emotions you may experience after being fired. Obviously each situation is different (because we are all different) but these emotions will cover off some of the basics.
I did not see it coming. I had no reason to. My previous review had gone well. There were broader issues being dealt with by all of the admin staff but nothing specific to me.
I went into shock.
It was quite surreal to be honest, like an out-of-body experience. I knew the people in the room were talking but I don’t remember what they were saying. My mind had already gone into overdrive.
The shock will pass.
In the meantime make sure you take all of your personal belongings with you when you leave. If you have phone numbers of contacts and friends or even personal paperwork that you have at work, make sure you take them with you.
To be clear, I’m definitely not talking about stealing anything that belongs to the company, just make sure you have what belongs to you since you won’t be coming back.
I’m not an angry person. If someone upsets me I may get a little miffed then move on quickly. It takes a lot to get me really angry.
Taking the above into consideration, I wasn’t quite prepared for how angry I would feel about being fired.
You need to keep your anger levels under control. It goes without saying you should NEVER get violent. It may be tempting to shout at someone but it’s not worth the risk, you should not burn your bridges. You don’t know who you may come into professional or personal contact with down the track.
Anger left unchecked, can be a very destructive emotion. Expect to feel angry but make sure your anger decreases over time.
One of your thoughts might be – how am I going to tell people I was fired?
Regardless of whether or were in the right or wrong, you are most likely going to have to deal with feelings of humiliation and embarrassment. You may have a hard time even telling people in the beginning. I know I felt sick when I had to tell someone out loud what had happened.
Your self-confidence may plummet. Again this can happen regardless of whether you were in the wrong. This is where it’s important to remind yourself of your skills and abilities.
Surround yourself with regular positive reinforcement and your confidence will return.
You worked hard, you put so much time and effort in and now it all feels like it was for nothing. It’s hard not to feel disappointed.
You may feel certain people let you down. People you trusted and depended on. Moments will flash through your mind (hindsight is a wonderful thing after all) and you will see how certain events came to influence your current situation.
As hard as it is, try to put these thoughts behind you. Holding onto disappointment won’t help you in the end.
Depending on your individual situation your sense of loss could be quite acute.
If you job had particular perks – salary packing, more vacation time, bonuses, a prestigious title, lots of travel, a great social life, wonderful coworkers or an excellent salary. That is all gone. It can be a lot to come to terms with.
Try not to process too much at one time.
Often one of the deep bonds we have with our jobs is the people who we work with.
When you are fired there is often no chance to say goodbye. You didn’t resign – there won’t be a long Friday lunch to wish you well or a cake for morning tea.
More than likely there will be a swift exit that leaves you feeling cut off and disconnected.
Perhaps your dismissal didn’t come as a shock. Perhaps you did something that could get you fired and secretly hoped it wouldn’t be uncovered. If this is the case you could be feeling anything from guilt to shame to regret.
While this situation warrants a whole post by itself, one truth remains – you are going to need to find some way to move on from your mistakes.
Expect the ‘Oh my God I’ll never get another job’ and/or ‘How will I pay the bills?’ panic attack.
In my case I had a trip to Sydney planned with my best friend. I’m not much of a shopper but for this trip I had a shopping spree planned. All thoughts of shiny new things went out the window.
You might start mentally calculating how much money you have in your bank account or how much debt you are in. If you are the breadwinner of the family with children to support and a mortgage, this could feel overwhelming.
Take a deep breath and repeat after me – it will all work out. There may be some hardship to overcome but it will all be okay.
At some point you will probably think – How did this happen to me? Why did this happen to me? Me, me, me.
Throwing yourself a small pity party is perfectly normal, just keep it brief. Be aware of a victim mentality lasting too long or snowballing into a bout of depression.
“Who cares anyway?’
“I’m better off without this job”
You may experience feelings of not giving a damn but of course you do.
Amazingly enough this emotion could be in there with the rest of them, depending on how you felt about certain aspects of your job. Perhaps you liked your co-workers but one person was making your life miserable. Perhaps you found a large portion of your work boring.
Perhaps the relief has nothing to do with work at all. Being fired may mean that you get time to focus on another aspects of your life that you have been neglecting or that you get the chance to follow a different career or study path altogether.
Conflicting emotions can be hard to process.
The point of this post is that your range of emotions is all perfectly normal. Don’t fight them. Don’t reprimand yourself for feeling a certain way.
This is a process that you need to work through to move on to other opportunities.
So what do you do after being fired? We will cover that off in a separate post.
Please share this post with your friends, particularly someone who is going through this particular hardship.
I hope this post helps someone through a difficult time.
I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.
Have I left anything significant off this list? How have you handled being fired?