The Things You Learn When You Get Fired

Happy Sunday, readers! I hope you had a week that wasn’t near as… dramatic as mine wound up being. A (very) long story short… I found out on Tuesday that this Friday will be my last day at the college bookstore where I’ve worked since early 2013. I hadn’t planned on staying at the store forever, but I was hoping to leave on my own terms, y’know? But, since my husband works at the store also, the company decided it was time for me to move on. I’m mostly excited about the change, but there are definitely some things I’ve learned about myself, personally and professionally, over the past nearly-five years that I’d like to share here.

1. You can’t really prepare yourself for the “You’re being fired” conversation – even when you know it’s coming.
Look, my husband and I knew we were working on borrowed time here. We’ve considered ourselves very lucky that we got to work together for as long as we have, but we also both knew that this had to end eventually. We found out last Saturday that our regional manager was coming up Tuesday about all this, and even though he didn’t say in his emails that he was firing me… I just sort of knew it. I can’t explain how or why, but I know I’ve always had a strong intuitive nature (remind me to fully blog about that another time). I could just tell, and the second he walked into the store on Tuesday, I knew I was done. EVEN SO, it felt like I left my body when the conversation took That Turn. It felt like I was watching the movie of my life, like I should be stuffing popcorn in my mouth and saying “Oh look, this is the part where the rug gets swept out from under our heroine and now she has to get her shit together” to my seatmate. I instead felt myself nodding along to the severance package that was being explained to me – and realizing that the phrase “severance package” was something I’d never heard directed at me before – while my brain was already racing to my next big thing.

2. Senioritis is something that does not go away after your last semester of high school.
Once the proverbial dust settled, I realized, very quickly: I haven’t been happy at this job in a long time. Maybe since right around when my husband became my husband, and my home life suddenly became way better than I ever knew it could be. This past fall rush was, without a doubt, the hardest two weeks of work I’ve ever gone through – I spent more time crying over this job than I ever have about a boy or any other dumb thing… and that’s not okay! So, since I found out my exit date… I have become a sincere lump of an employee. Thankfully, my boss understands and isn’t forcing work upon me… but, y’all, I feel ridiculous right now. I’m like the kid who got accepted to his dream college and realizes his high school assignments don’t mean as much anymore.

3. I… still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.
I was not a good college student. It took me til about two years ago to realize that I probably shouldn’t have wasted all that time and money, floundering around, not really caring about my degree… I know I can’t undo that now (but can someone tell my student loan companies to lay off?), but… guys, I don’t know how people do it. The only thing I knew about myself when I was back in school was that I never wanted a job that made me known as my title first – teacher, doctor, etc. I prefer to just be me, a person who does things. That being said! I don’t know what thing I want to be paid to do now! Slingin’ textbooks and stocking sweatshirts wasn’t my calling, but it was something I was damn good at, and I know those aren’t exactly marketable skills for anything beyond… working in a college bookstore.

3a. Not knowing what to do next isn’t a bad thing, at all.
The above being said, I know it would be so easy for me to be terrified by this situation – anxious bundle of nerves seems to be my default setting, after all – but aside from the requisite sadness of change… I am really, really excited for this change. Complacency scares me more than the unknown does, I’ve come to learn. I’ve got job applications all over the place right now, some at predictable places, and some at places that simply hold my interest. One of those has turned into plans for a coffee meeting that I never would have anticipated. I might crash and burn when my severance package ends, sure, but I might not, y’know? I’ve never been in the position to take a job because I truly want it, and I am so thrilled that I get to be a little picky now, and wait for something I want to try.

4. You’ll get sad over things you never expected to.
All the future-thinking and excitement over never doing online textbook orders again (guys, I never, ever have to go in at 5:45am and run through the book aisles again) aside… there are some things about the bookstore I am going to miss, in the weirdest way. I’m not even talking about the people (hang on a point or two more for that). I’m talking about things like… knowing exactly how the office supplies are organized. I’ll have to ask where extra staples are at my new job. Thoughts like that make me want to cry. I may not have ended up loving this job, but I was really, really good at it, and when you do something for nearly five years… it’s comfortable.

5. You’ll require whiskey (or your drink of choice).
No explanation really necessary here. Just let me drink a little more Jack Daniels and Diet Coke than I normally would these next few weeks, okay?

6. You’ll become so good at updating your resume and writing cover letters and being your own hype girl that you’ll wonder if you can just get paid for that instead of finding an actual job.

7. The people who became every day fixtures in your life will make you cry a lot more than you knew you could, but you’ll be fine (you promise).
I really hate goodbyes. Growing up doing theater meant that every two months or so, a production would end and tragic goodbyes were inevitable. I never got good at that part, and this is no different. The negatives parts of this job were often forgotten because of the incredible people it brought into my life. I can’t begin to list them here, but just know if you’re part of the bookstore gang… you’ve impacted my life in ways I will never be able to fully explain. On days I didn’t think I could take any more of this job… your stopping by or coming in to work a shift, you kept me going, probably more than you ever realized. Whoever takes my place at the bookstore will be truly lucky if you show them even half the love and friendship you filled my life with.

I have no idea what the next few weeks will hold for me. As I said, I’ll be working this week and then… that’s it. My husband and I still have our trip to Miami booked for our anniversary (!) in early October, so I’m going to have two weeks to myself before that to… honestly, I’m looking forward to just sort of mentally detoxing. I have plans to rearrange my office at home, and make it more conducive to working from home, if that’s the path I wind up taking (I really want to, y’all). I have some potential interviews and meetings lined up already, but I’m not ruling anything out. I’m excited for what the future might hold, even if it also scares the shit out of me. Here’s to the unknown, dear readers!

4 thoughts on “The Things You Learn When You Get Fired

  1. I really identify with so much of this. It’s made me a bit tearful! Last Christmas I was made redundant from a job I’d been in for 5 years. To say it knocked me sideways doesn’t even tickle the gamut of emotions I went through. I think everything you’re experiencing and anticipating is a perfectly normal and reasonable reaction. And getting sad over the things you never expected to, weird right? It’s good to read you’re excited about whatever comes next, and open to ideas. I hope you find a set-up that works for you, the Universe really does work in mysterious ways! To keep breathing, I turned my redundancy (and a subsequent one) into a tirade of sarcasm; a pre-cursor and cornerstone of my own ‘project’ here. So, keep breathing, use support when you need it, blow some of your severance pay on something you’ve always wanted, enjoy the J.D. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I can’t thank you enough for this sweet comment! I’m sorry that we’ve now bonded over something like losing jobs, but I suppose that’s what blogging is for – finding commonalities with people on the internet 🙂 I’m definitely going to do exactly what you said… my home office will be decked out with new art soon! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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