Updated: Dec 9, 2020
“When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold.” Yes, a lyric from one of my favorite hip hop artists is my response to a majority of life's challenges (shoutout Atmosphere). When an experience impedes our path to success it can be easy to lose focus, doubt our abilities, and become enveloped in the negatives. One thing I am beginning to learn is seldomly do “plans” go according to plan and it is our choice in how we respond to these challenges.
In life we have control over few things, but our attitude is one of them.
You can let a negative experience build you or let it break you. It is the decision we make as individuals that determines how an experience will shape and define us as we continue to move forward. As long as I can remember my Mom always taught me that every situation has a silver lining.
Recently, I was put in a position where I needed to rely on my strength as an optimist to prevail through an unfortunate life experience. After losing my job as a Health Educator and being unemployed for 6 months I landed a full-time position at Target as a Front End Supervisor.
It would be my first job outside of college where I would have the opportunity to apply my degree and leadership skills. I was learning something new every day and growing into the position. Although I knew retail was not my long term plan I was enjoying my role within the company.
Sparing the details, I was fired, payed out in cash, and sent on my way.
I was disappointed, sad, angry, and disheartened. As someone who takes a lot of pride in their work getting fired was a huge blow to my confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, but so much of our lives depend on the income of a steady pay-check and my income suddenly dissolved. I won’t lie I completely broke down. I cried, I felt lost, and I felt abandoned.
When an event like losing your job occurs it is human nature to feel the emotions mentioned above. Whether you lost your job, failed a class, lost a championship game, compromised a relationship, or anything in between I hope my 5 reflective points will help shift your focus back to what is important. Because when the whole situation finally settled, getting fired was the best thing to happen to me...
1) It made me realize my own value as a person and an employee.
After the initial shock of getting fired I was able to see things more clearly. I reached out to friends and family for support and was reminded how capable I am of achieving great results and inspiring others. I did not need an organization to validate my skills. Instead, I needed to refocus on the positives and understand there is value in my skills and personality.
I know what I am capable of and was not going to let a company devalue my worth as a person or employee. You should never be complacent and never settle for average. We all have unique skills and values that can be an asset to any circumstance. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We all deserve to be valued and we establish that value.
2) It put me in a position where I needed to make an important life decision.
Often we are challenged to make pivotal life decisions at less than ideal times. It is during these times where we really envision the future roads we can take. Instead of seeing getting fired as a negative, I chose to view it as an opportunity to explore other potential realities. I started to research School Counseling Master’s programs, jobs in music journalism, and volunteer programs in other countries.
What once seemed like a closed door began to morph into exciting opportunity. Soon after getting fired I followed my passion for music and writing to EDM Identity. Had I not been put in the hot seat I may not have actively sought out the path I am on now. Sometimes we need to be placed in a challenging position to achieve the best results for our future selves. Try not be so consumed with what seems to be a terrible situation, but be open-minded to the opportunity that exists in the peripheral.
3) I realized which people from my job still wanted to be my friend.
Jobs come and go, but do the friends really stay? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Even though I got fired I still found value in the time I spent at Target because of the relationships I built. 3 months is not a long time, but when you spend 40 hours a week in the same establishment, with the same people, you inevitably grow closer.
In a world where we have never been more connected it is ironic how we can feel lonelier than ever. That is why I feel so privileged to remain friends with some of the people I met at Target. Whether it be friends from a job, a school organization, or a sports team it is natural some relationships will fade, but when friends stick with you through your trials it makes those bonds even stronger.
4) It gave me time to focus on what was important to me.
If you have worked a full-time job you understand the challenge of work/life balance. It can be so easy to get caught up in the routine of work that we let our other passions and hobbies subside. Getting fired gave me the time to invest in things I love: family, friends, concerts, and writing. As I shifted my focus to the things that made me happy the closer I became to achieving my goals.
Big life stressors became more manageable and the variables out of my control no longer pestered my mind. Even with no job and no steady income I was able to take steps forward because I was enjoying what I was doing. Sometimes the unfavorable positions we find ourselves in push us in the direction we need to go.
5) It gave me time to reflect.
If we don't take time to reflect on our experiences they go unanalyzed and get lost deep in the brain. I feel reflection is an underrated human practice. It is key in increasing self-awareness and allows us to use past experiences as learning tools for personal growth.
Getting fired allowed me the time to focus on myself, the things that made me happy, and the past events that led me to where I was. I looked at past experiences from different perspectives and overcame personal hurdles that, in a way, set me free. Reflecting over a period of time gave me a better understanding of what I wanted to pursue and relieved lingering anxiety from past experiences. Reflection ended up being a very beneficial practice to me. Almost like a form of meditation.