Want to know my super strategic method for making the transition to full time in your business?
One year ago today, I walked into work and less than 30 minutes later I walked out without a job …fired. Shocked and fired.
Without going into any detail, lets just say it was unexpected.
With my arms full, trying to juggle a ripping Georgetown Cupcake bag full of desk stuff and snacks, cursing myself for having already changed out of my metro shoes, I rode the elevator down crying. Before the doors opened into the lobby, I was calling Carla. I know you’re supposed to call your husband in these types of situations, but he can’t answer the phone at work and I needed someone to talk to immediately.
After I said, “I just got fired” three times, she started laughing and said, “this is the best day of your life.”
And she was right, of course, but it didn’t feel like it in that moment.
I kept her on the phone and walked down the street back towards the metro station for my long ride home. My “I just got fired” bags were ripping so I made a stop in the Target on the way down the street. Poor Nate (or whatever the nice teenage employee was named) saw me coming with the tears and the bags, about to drop everything, and started to pretend he didn’t see me (crazy lady alert!), but then he ran up and helped me. I gave him the short story. “I just got fired. Can I have some bags?”
Four sturdy Target bags, a quick shoe change, and a mistimed “have a great day!” later I was back on the metro headed home. It was 8:40 am.
What’s crazy is that despite the tears afterwards, when my boss actually said “we’re letting you go,” I didn’t feel mad. I didn’t feel upset. I felt tingly. This weird, wonderful sensation like I was getting something I didn’t even know I really wanted happened. I had the sensation that I could float out of my chair… Of course, I’d thought about when I’d take my little side-hustle photo business full time, but I always thought it’d be much further down the line when we were ready to have kids and it was really established. Sure, I’d fantasized on my long commute about having my own schedule and being able to dedicate more of my time to this thing I love, but going full time only a few months after I’d started it was not the plan.
That very distinct initial tingly feeling (joy? happiness? alignment? disbelief?) sitting in my boss’ office took about .02 seconds to dissolved into shame. My ego caught up to what just happened, the gut-punch landed, and my head started spinning. “I’m going to have to tell people I got fired,” “I’m so embarrassed,” and “how am I someone that gets fired?!?!” were screaming in my head. Those tears poor Nate had to deal with were a powerful concoction of embarrassment, anger, and anxiety.
When I got off the metro, I went straight to my parents’ house. I’d called them while I was on the train. As I walked in the door, my mom met me with the kindest look of sympathy and a hug. My Dad chose a different approach and announced that “the bum is home!!!!” Too soon, Dad.
I went for a long run and did a load of laundry (what do unemployed people do at 1 pm on a Thursday?). It felt weird, but awesome? That night, we all went to dinner at our favorite pizza spot and they toasted my new chapter. To my parents, siblings, and Patrick, there was no question that I was going to pursue building my own business. I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I was scared. Losing my salary was a huge change in our income and Pat was about to start graduate school. This also came at the end of a rough year when both of my grandparents passed away months before and Patrick’s Dad was in the midst of intense treatment for a rare cancer. I felt really worn down. Could I actually do it? Now?
It took me 20 minutes of looking at potential jobs online the next day to admit to myself that applying wasn’t going to happen. The thought of walking into another sad, gray, cold office to sit at a desk for a mandatory amount of time each day made my physically nauseous. Even though I loved the causes I’d worked for over the past five years and (most of) the people I’d worked with, I couldn’t do it.
So here I am, one year later, celebrating the anniversary of the best day of my life (wedding day excluded, love you Pat).
I’ve contemplated sharing this story for a whole year and gotten very close at times, but I didn’t quite have the courage. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make my business work and the thought of potential clients knowing why I was doing this full time scared me. It felt like I’d been drop-kicked off a cliff and was trying to build a plane on the way down. Surely, if they knew the circumstances they would judge me like I so harshly judged myself, right? Instead, I would say “I got laid off,” which is accurate since my being let go was not in response to my performance or conduct, but technically, it was the f-word and I was ashamed to say it.
The funny thing is, the more I’ve shared this story, the more people have shared something very similar happening to them. Tons of people have been fired! Seriously! Tons! Lots of people you know have! They just never talk it. It’s cool, I get why.
So, if you’ve been through this and feel a little embarrassed, just know I’m here for you. It’s not what I’d anticipated or hoped for, but for the past year, I have been living a career life that I used to dream about. And that’s something worth celebrating.