Uncharted unemployment

This is a guest post by a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. Thank you for being brave enough to share this story.

Years ago, I remember blatantly judging a friend because I found out that he lied about how he left his last job. He didn’t in fact quit, but he was in fact…fired. What? Who on earth gets fired?

I remember thinking; did he just not care and actively decide not to show up that day? He must be lazy, incompetent and unmotivated. He must type on the keyboard with his feet or something; surely you would have to be AWFUL to be fired.

Yep, I assumed the worst.

In complete honestly I thought you would have to kill your boss’s puppy before getting fired.

You go to university, you work those first few jobs that you know are ‘experience building’. You constantly utter those words “You gotta start somewhere!” and then you move up the career ladder, each next role comes with a extra few $1000’s on your annual salary and you progress. You get better.

Who would fire you if you showed up every day, met every deadline, did what you were told and worked your set times every, single, day. Who?

I found out that if you couldn’t imagine being fired, guess what, you could still BE fired. Finding this out, was THE WORST.

Being fired is like being lost in the supermarket as a little kid. You’re happily walking along, minding your own business, Mum is in sight so all is okay, nothing can go wrong. You have done this a million times and just negotiated getting a Freddo from Mum and now it is just a matter of getting through the checkout and back to the car.

And really, you can’t wait to devour that sweet Freddo in the car, the sweet chocolaty fruit of your labour for being so patient, helping Mum with the shopping… wait, Mum?

You turn your head for two seconds and she’s gone. You neglected to keep to keep your eye on the ball for TWO SECONDS.

Don’t panic, just look around, skim each aisle, she couldn’t of gone far – what is she? A cheetah? How fast is this woman? Okay where is she, honestly? WHERE IS SHE.

Panic sets in and you start envisioning your life as an orphan, adopted out to a new family and the list goes on… Oh god! How could you be so stupid, taking it all for granted!

Yep. That is exactly what being fired is like. Except instead of a Freddo it’s your rent, your credit card payments, your ability to buy your friends birthday presents, engagement gifts, a new dress for a date, life… yeah. You need that stuff, and you need a job to buy that stuff.

And now for the slap of reality I always knew, but never wanted to know. Jobs aren’t guaranteed, even once you get them. You can do everything in your power to do a good job and you can still get fired.

Its true, and I know because it happened to me.

But you know what? It also happened to a lot of friends of mine – friends who I didn’t know were fired ever until I was. It was crazy how common it was, friends who I knew to be some of the smartest and most professional people around me. It wasn’t until they recognised that I needed to be able to relate did I start to find out about everyone’s ‘I got fired once too’ story.

The feeling was completely isolating, terrifying, relieving and delirium inducing all at the same time, suddenly, one Wednesday afternoon at 4pm, I found myself in uncharted, unemployment territory that I never expected.

One minute I was working alongside friends, co-workers and inspirational peers who I envisioned learning so much from while I was employed there.

The next, I was being called into a little room (cue the cliché), being told I was not the ‘right fit’, that it wasn’t personal, it was just, not right (I then remembered the end of my six month probationary period was ending in one week. Fuck.)

That was it, I found myself working hard one minute, and then outside on the footath the next, peering down the street in Melbourne’s January sun and looking desperately for my car, clutching my bags and my termination folder. Not knowing what to do, or where to go (seriously, where did I park my car?!).

Being fired is like losing a parent in the shopping centre, it’s scary, and the worst part is not knowing when it’s going to be okay again.

But you know what? You appreciate your Mum so much more when you do track her down. The relief is overwhelming and you swear you will do things differently next time.

And sometimes, you may even be lucky enough to relise that the Freddo wasn’t really for you. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant? I don’t know.

What I do know is, if you couldn’t ever imagine getting fired, maybe you should imagine it. It may just lead you down the a new path to discover a new opportunity that is definitely a better fit.

And guess what…you will be so relieved you did get lost (just for a little bit).

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