Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why Getting Fired From My Job Was The Best Possible Thing That Could Happen

"It's just not working out."

That was the reason I was given when I walked into the conference room where my Supervisor and the HR Manager sat and had me sign off my termination papers. Nothing else was stated between my boss. She got up and briskly walked out of the room. My reaction?

Well...I didn't exactly say that but that's the vibe I gave. And as cool as a response as that is to getting canned, that wouldn't have been my reaction a year back. A year ago, I would've been floored by getting fired. I could see it now, my heart sinking, my voice cracking as I would pathetically beg them to reconsider. Anxiety would take the wheel and I'd be terrified with the outlook since there was no backup plan or steady income of any kind that I could fall back on. What would I tell my wife? How would I pay the bills and the rent? What are we going to do!?

Nope. None of that happened. I was truly at peace with the decision. And it was the right decision. They were absolutely right in firing me. In fact, I shouldve probably been fired a month into working there, and I had worked there for four years! I brought absolutely no value to the position anymore because I checked out long ago. I was the definition of a slacker. In fact, I was actively using company time coming up with an exit strategy to get the hell out of there.

When I had a talk with my dad later that day informing him of my pink slip, he looked at me and laughed stating, "Usually people are sad and this is bad news. But here you are, you're so happy!" I was, I was effing beaming!

"Formal Apology" to my Former Company

And actually I want to apologize for robbing my former company of all the money they payed me to keep my half-assed working self on payroll. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to do my job.  In fact, from 9 to 6 I tried my best to AVOID doing my work because it was the antithesis of everything I was interested in and passionate about. I felt the work was beneath me and my millenial sense of entitlement resulted in me doing the least possible work as a sort of passive rebellion to the corporate world. The corporate politics, the asskissing, the pretending to like people and strike up conversations with people you can't stand. I wasn't having any of it. I didn't deserve to be there. What they needed was a robotic sweathog to lumber through all their crap, nod his head, not complain and be grateful that lunch is catered for free everyday and that there are free coke machines (aka the only true perks of the dang joint). That wasn't me. So yeah, I robbed them of company time, I used their internet to surf and avoid work, I took them to the cleaners with the laziest of work and for that I want to thank them for letting me slip under the radar for so long and providing me a steady yet crummy pay and I apologize for not earning a cent of it with my demeanor and approach.

So yeah, sorry bruh. I hope the next file clerk who replaces me does better. I'm certain he won't because the whole system there is flawed and the place is a revolving door anyway, no one's going to stick around there for long.

Why Staying at a Job you Hate will slowly Kill Who You Are

That's my main takeaway I learned from the whole experience working at this joint. That's what happened to me, I lost myself. I systematically broke down little by little until I didn't know who I was anymore when looking in the mirror. Looking back, it would've been best to just quit because nothing about the job, the company or the culture reflected my personality. The analogy I usually use to describe my stay there is,"Imagine William Shakespeare working at a Car License plate stamping factory." I'm pretty sure the day Shakespeare gets hired, is the same day he blows his brains out. I on the other hand gritted my teeth and chugged along for four years.

A few months ago I took one of those free personality tests online. You know, the one where you end up being defined by a bunch of letters. I remember taking them a long while back while I was still in high school and I didn't think too much of it then. This time around it blew my friggin' mind. So I'm an INFJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging) and they described me as "an advocate". What was interesting was that what followed was a 9 page detailed report of my strengths and weaknesses, and how my personality type fares in romantic relationships, friendships and parenting. The report also touched on my personality types career paths and workplace habits. And by God, it was like reading a revelation. The report was as if my inner self wrote it and was reading it to me.

Prime example is what it said about my personality type and how my personality meshes in the corporate world:
INFJs are likely to find that most corporate career paths are not designed for them, but for those focused on status and material gain...many INFJs struggle to begin a career early on because they see ten wildly different paths forward, each with its own intrinsic rewards, alluring but also heartbreaking, because each means abandoning so much else. INFJs need to find meaning in their work, to know that they are helping and connecting with people. INFJs crave creativity too, the ability to use their insight to connect events and situations, effecting real change in others’ lives personally.

These needs are hard to meet in a corporate structure, where INFJs will be forced to manage someone else’s policies alongside their own. As independents, sole proprietors in the parlance of business, INFJs are free to follow their hearts, applying their personal touch, creativity and altruism to everything they do. 
INFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays.
Well, well...

Where INFJs fall flat is in work focusing on impersonal concerns, mundanity, and high-profile conflict. Accounting and auditing, data analysis and routine work will leave people with the INFJ personality type fidgety and unfulfilled, and they will simply wilt under the scrutiny, criticism and pressure of courtroom prosecution and defense, corporate politics and cold-call be truly happy, they need to be able to exercise their insightfulness and independence, learn and grow alongside the people they are helping, and contribute to the well-being of humanity on a personal level.
Wow. Reading it again even, WOW. Again it was like a revelation and an explanation of why I was being such a slacker, even when I was trying hard not to be and fall in line. I truly fell apart inside and out in that type of environment because it was in direct conflict with my personality type. I was disinterested and like it said above, I was fidgety and unfulfilled. This job confirmed that I have some sort of ADD because it was so hard to stay focused on shit I didn't want to do. And I did wilt under the culture of the daily 9 to 5 grind doing what I didn't want to do day in and day out and the unfulfillment and settling for mediocrity ate into my self-esteem, my self-confidence and just everything I held dear to myself, breaking me down and sending me to a dark place where I didn't recognize myself. I was dying inside and something needed to change.

The personality test was a catalyst towards my change of direction in life and it facilitated the change I needed to make to myself and made me embrace myself again and not settle for mediocrity. I returned back to writing, I started to pursue freelance writing as a possible career path, something I did not have the self-confidence to do before.  I now see it as a viable option for me.

Granted, getting fired is not what I wanted. I ideally wanted to both find a solid direction and have a viable fallback to where I had no choice but to quit to pursue it. I didn't get that and in fact my job firing me kinda hit the fast forward button, but I still thank them for doing so! Getting fired was potentially the best thing that ever happened to me and here's why I think so:

1. Getting fired lit a fire under me.

When I got the news, I immediate texted my wife to inform her of what happened and I let her know that everything was going to be okay. A few months earlier, I started dipping my foot in freelance writing and I discovered something--I can make some serious dough doing it. It reignited the idea that my God-given talent to write and tell stories is my bread and butter and I haven't been utilizing it because I had been distracted and hampered by my fears and insecurities. Where one door closes, another opens and getting fired felt like getting released from prison and coming out to a whole new world of possibilities.

2. I got my family back

Right now I'm working from home with my writing. (#hustlefromhome). Working at my corporate job, I was gone a total of 11 hours from home. Family is a important and critical thing that corporations frankly don't give a damn about, so it's the first to go in effort to increase their bottom line. On top of losing my mind, I was losing my family daily. When I came home I was so beat down mentally that I just wanted to crash when I got home. Freelancing has allowed me to be close to my wife and kids and work on being a better dad. It has given me a chance to give my wife more breaks so she could find herself and be more than just a mom looking after our kids. I can play with my son and still get work done and put money on the table. It's a beautiful thing. 

3. I realized my potential.

People usually (and erroneously) define themselves by their job. I'm more than a file clerk. I'm more than just a guy working a desk job doing busy work. There's so much more to me than that which wasn't seen in a corporation where you're expendable. As much as it seems like I'm mud slinging my job as the source of all my problems and depression, the main person that was holding me back was myself. It was just the environment that made me more of an enemy to myself and provided it with ample daily ammunition to lay into me. I was squandering talents and prime years where I was at, because I kept myself there and my negative inner voice gave me destructive self-talk that I couldn't do better than this. That I wasn't good enough. That I sucked. That I was a loser. And it's just not true. No more settling.

4. It does get better 

As cliched as phrases like “Something bigger and better is out there waiting for you.” “These things happen for a reason.” “You’ll find something even more exciting.” are, it's actually true! During my stay at the corporation, I wondered often, "Why of all places, am I here?", "Why ain't I doing better than this?" I felt like God had hit Pause on my life. Now, I really see my 4 year stay at the corporation as a lesson from God that I needed to learn before I could move on to the next chapter of my life. In a lot of ways it was a painful lesson, but beneficial. A sort of way to get my stuff together internally before God could hit Play. In the Qur'an it says,

Truly, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Qur'an 13:11)
Things weren't changing inside of me so I was stuck on pause, stuck in the rat race at a soul-sucking dead end, go-nowhere job. Once I woke the hell up and started working actively on internal change, battling my negative inner voices and not settling anymore on mediocrity did things finally get moving again. And I'm so glad it did.

Thank you crummy corporation who shall not be named, thank you my Supervisor who finally gave me the axe and thank you God, for the life lessons that I have learned and will continue to learn.