The Day I Lost My Job
To begin to understand how I lost my job, you will need to envision me strutting into the office looking forward to what by all accounts was going to be a day filled with utter silence much like that of a library. It was three days after Christmas and customers, clients, and many of the office employees were on vacation.
Moments after arriving and settling down at my desk, the human resource lady walked in. I normally wouldn’t be alarmed if it weren’t for the fact that the company had been performing layoffs for some time now and growing evermore. I was struck with anxiety with immediacy. She walked back and forth from one end of the showroom to the other eventually settling down in a secluded area while talking on her cellphone.
I was a salesperson in the construction industry as a fenestration consultant.
My manager walked in a bit after she arrived and seemed surprised a bit by her presence. They moved into his office which was much like a goldfish bowl because of the windows that enclosed it. They talked for about 30-minutes all the while printing reports and poking the heck out of the calculator on his desk. He didn’t look like he was having a good time in the process as his face was neutral with flat expressions. He passed by my desk a few times making his way to the copy machine glancing slightly at me with a half-hearted smile. The kind of smile that lets you know that something is not right and it concerns you. The palm of my hands was sweaty, just as they are whenever I have to travel by airplane–flying makes me nervous.
“Can you come with me into my office?”, my boss asked. I crumbled inside as I followed. Optimism was all I could focus on to try and fight the anxiety. This was not about a raise in pay or a promotion. The human resource department is not needed for that.
The look on their faces said it all. I could feel the tension as I sat down. “We’re going to have to let you go”.
I remained composed through wanting to break down and cry. I listened to them politely as they explained that it was not personal and I shouldn’t feel like I had done anything wrong. The simple math just didn’t compute and thus could not justify my position. I had transferred from another location 18-months prior and had a difficult time getting my sales up.
I lost my job.
What I Learned
There were many things I learned later after I gathered myself. I kept asking myself why me as I had been a long-term employee and after 16-years wasn’t I valuable in some way? I held on to these questions for several years afterward. But I began to realize that it wasn’t what I was doing at work that possibly created this situation for me but rather what I wasn’t doing in my personal life that likely played a big part in being fired.
I had a lot on my mind when I came to work. Having a child with mental illness is extremely challenging. It became overwhelming and affected my attitude and thus my work. Though I can’t be certain, this was at the root of my demise.
But there were things I could have done to help me have the best frame of mind when at work that I hadn’t given much thought to.
“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
– Zig Ziglar
It is never wise to try and bear the weight troubles on your own when it becomes obvious you’re having difficulty doing so. Counseling would have made a tremendous improvement in both my personal and professional life.
One of the greatest if not the greatest remedies for stress is exercise. Running, walking, cycling, or whatever it is can do wonders for reducing your stress level and improve your mental health. The added bonus is that you become interested in improving your appearance which leads to cleaning up your diet.
I had no goals to speak of being it short or long term. Creating goals give a sense of direction and purpose. They point out progress or the lack thereof and can encourage you to reassess your efforts.
This was very difficult to partake in when considering bringing along or leaving behind a child with mental illness. Going out was impossible due to behavior issues in public that would end in embarrassment and humiliation. So, we stayed home to avoid these encounters.
Weekend getaways, visiting friends or relatives, participating in the community with clean ups around the neighborhood, park, etc., can give you a sense of being alive.
Reading is the key to the knowledge of self and the world around you. It can take you places you may never get the chance to see. You can learn about other people’s lives while discovering how they overcame challenging situations to a more rewarding life both personally and professionally.
Like exercising hobbies can bring valuable therapeutic results. Creativity brings the soul to life as it gives the ability to express your inner imagination. It is simply a fun way to experience life. Drawing, painting, photography or whatever, these are great for personal expression.
In retrospect, I don’t know with any certainty that any of these efforts would have changed my demise. But they would have undoubtedly improved the quality of my life and attitude at work. I needed help with my personal challenges so that I could be the best version of me at work was difficult to do.
I learned the hard way that attitude is everything in life.