You know the feeling. Your boss calls you in to talk about something or other and tells you you’ve been fired. Maybe you had some advance warning from a friend or coworker, maybe it blindsided you. Either way, the possibility, previously large or small, is now real. You’re leaving.
Even if you were the best, most hard-working, employee you start asking yourself all kinds of questions. What did I do wrong? Could I have done something different? Better? Do I just suck that bad? Was it not enough? Do I just not cut it? You feel like you’ve lost your drive, your direction, like the wind’s been taken out of your sails.
And the truth is, you can come up with a yes for any of these questions. Yes, you could have done something different. Yes, it wasn’t enough. Yes, something did go wrong. Obviously, I mean, you did get fired.
However, by doing this is you’re simplifying the situation. Work relationships are like any relationship, a two-way street. It won’t matter how hard you try if your manager or boss doesn’t like you. You can do a great job at something but not do it in a way that they like. There are a myriad of reasons you can get laid off and only a few of them are because of your shortcomings. Boiling the situation down to just “Yeah, I did something wrong, I suck.” is not a realistic viewpoint. It’s taking the situation out of context.
Consider this, try looking at it from a different angle. Instead of thinking, “I didn’t do well enough.” ask, “Did I do my best?”. Look yourself in the mirror and say it. If the answer is yes, then you really have nothing to beat yourself up with. Have you learned anything from your job? Have you grown in your skills? Your character or abilities? These are things you’ll keep with you as long as you don’t neglect and forget them. Yeah, you may be out of a job, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t gain anything from your old one. It doesn’t make you less, doesn’t make you stupider, or less able. Even though it’s very easy to feel like it.
Life knocks you down sometimes. But, as C. S. Lewis says, “You can never fail, so long as you get up and keep trying.” If you can pick yourself back up one more time than life can knock you down, then guess what, you win. That’s easier said than done of course. Sometimes it takes a while. Just don’t let what’s happening to you at a particular moment become permanent. Don’t let yourself fixate on the could-have-beens. Let it roll off.
The past is the past, good for learning from but not living in. If you learned anything at all from your old place, if you gained anything from it, then use it and keep moving onwards. Keep forging ahead. Yes, it may happen again. It probably will, in fact. It’s very, very rare for people to work at the exact same job for their entire lives.
If there is any truth to the philosophy of there being a path for each of us to walk, then, by the very nature of a path, you cannot stay at a single place the entire way. Some places you may linger awhile, but not forever.