Fired. Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Thrown out. Discarded. All words that you could associate with losing your job in an unexpected manner. If you’ve found yourself suddenly unemployed before, you know that it is not a pleasant feeling. Perhaps you have just lost a job, and are sobbing on your bedroom floor because you just stepped on your glasses and your cat is hiding because you’re acting like a lunatic. No, that was just me? Or maybe you’re in complete shock and can’t quite comprehend what’s happening. Don’t worry, I got you, along with 7 tips to get over getting fired.
Two years ago today, I got fired. Okay, okay, legally I mutually ended my relationship with my employer. But if we're speaking in layman's terms: fired. It was one of the most devastating and dark times of my life, and it turned my world upside down. Moving on and truly getting over it was also one of the most difficult tasks. But eventually, I did get over getting fired.
This is not a post about how I lost my job. If you know, you know. If you don’t, you’ll have to wait for my memoirs. This post is about getting over getting fired. People looking for a close-up view of a car-wreck, move along. What I will repeat again is that I legally reached an agreement to mutually end my employment with my company. My experience and the aftermath were as if I was fired, and that is how I will frame my story and what I learned from all of it.
1. Be a Shitshow
Just own that this is going to happen. You will feel completely out of control. That nothing you do is right and that nothing could ever make this better. Maybe you weren’t that invested in your job, but I doubt that’s you if you’ve found yourself searching the web for ways to get over getting fired.
I started by crying uncontrollably. Then I slept for a week straight. I watched the entire series of Downton Abbey. Went to the beach on a Tuesday. Got drunk on a Wednesday morning. You're allowed to be a bit of a shit show at the beginning. Lean into it and it will pass.
2. Don't Do Anything Drastic, at First
Two days after I lost my job, I chopped off my hair into a bob. I'm gonna say it wasn't the best move. Most likely bridges are already burning, so don't add any tinder to the flames by being brash. Pause and ask yourself if it is the grief talking. Ask yourself, if an action is something you would be doing if you weren't otherwise standing on the edge of a cliff that is your empty soul wondering if everything will ever be the same again. That is not the state of mind to be doing drastic things in.
Eventually, drastic may be what you need. I ended up picking up my life and moving to a new state, and then a new country. But that wasn't when the situation was fresh. That was after months of reflection and soul-searching. If you're going to do something drastic, make sure you've given yourself time to think about the choice, instead of letting your shock guide you.
3. Create a New Routine
Without a job to go to, you can become untethered pretty quickly. Compound that with any amount of depression and it can lead to sleeping for 16 hours or not sleeping at all, eating at all hours of the day or not eating at all, or forgetting what a shower is. When your world is upside down and you can't tell which way is up, creating a routine will center and calm you.
Start with setting rise and sleep times, and try to stick with them. Give yourself some wiggle room, too. Maybe you go to bed at midnight and sleep until nine am. Just try and find some consistency. Eat at the same time each day, find a weekly class, schedule time to do things you enjoy each day. Bonus points if you create a routine that requires you to leave the house.
4. Rally Your Troops
Support systems are built for moments like these. You may be embarrassed or ashamed and want to hide under a rock, but that doesn't mean you can't let your nearest and dearest in on your pain. I once read an article about a man who lost his job and then pretended to go to work for the next 9 months while he searched for a new job, and he didn't even tell his wife he was unemployed. He was shocked that he was so miserable. No shit, Sherlock.
Do not hide this from your support system or they will not be able to support you. And they will want to be there for you. They will let you vent, cry, bitch, and moan. Send the text. Make the call. Write the email. Ask for help and advice. Or just ask your people to be there and not talk about it. To go out to brunch. Have dinner. What you get from your troops is dependent on what you need, but reaching out is an integral part of moving on.
I ended up withdrawing from one of my favorite hobbies after being fired: posting on social media. It was like I was scared to share what was happening in my life unless it was big or flashy. But that didn't mean I still didn't love to scroll. And since my life was also very intertwined with my career, it meant that my company was heavily highlighted in my feed.
Now is the time to get acquainted with the mute and unfollow settings on Instagram and Facebook. Feel free to unfriend as many people as necessary. If they need an explanation, they can get it somewhere else. Because you don't need any reason to not have people in your social feeds. That goes for whether you were just fired or not. But in the case of getting over getting fired, removing things from your sightline that make you unnecessarily sad is helpful.
6. Broaden Your Horizon
Now is the time to try new career avenues. What is it that you couldn't or weren't allowed to do in your previous role? What do the people around you think you'd be good at? Ask them! Another great thing about rallying your troops and letting people know you've found yourself unemployed is that they can share new job opportunities with you.
I tried my hand at freelance web design for a while, which I discovered was not my cup of tea. Then I eventually got a new role in a whole new field in a whole new city, which I also discovered wasn't really my jam. Finally, a golden opportunity to return to something I enjoy fell into my lap from my Facebook feed and I found myself living in a whole new country. Look outside what you think you're capable of and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
7. Give it a Year
The best advice I was given by anyone was that I had a year to feel bad about being fired. During that time period, I could feel sad, mad, unhappy, betrayed, unsatisfied, or hurt. But after a year, you needed to re-evaluate and really work on letting it go. You didn't have to be completely over it by then, but it was a milepost to check-in.
It was cathartic to know that feeling bad four months later was okay. When a wave of sadness or shame washed over me at nine months that there wasn't something wrong with me. And it was surprising when the one year anniversary came along that I could really reflect and remove myself from the experience enough to know that I was getting over getting fired.
Now that two years have passed, I can't imagine a world in which I hadn't lost my job. Not to say that there aren't the moments where I find myself irritated at an ad from my former employer or get a shiver of shame that runs down my spine. But I now know that I have moved on from getting fired and understand that this one bad event does not define my career, my core beliefs, or how freaking badass I actually am.