A year ago today, I headed back to work after a nice long 10 day break from a workplace where I really didn’t thrive. I got up early, and dove right into planning my annual gala. Emailing and talking with committee members super early, my boss was quite taken aback to see me in the office so early.
Because she was going to fire me that day.
It was the first time I’d ever been fired. Fact is, the job was not the right fit from the second day. OK – maybe even the first day. My co-workers were great, but the Director and I had completely opposite personalities, and I think I scared the crap out of her. I remember sitting in her office one day when she was undoubtedly berating me for something she felt she could have done so much better, and I held eye contact through the whole meeting. I had nothing to be ashamed of – I did my job, we were successful, but I did it differently than she might have, and she wanted to let me know that was unacceptable. At one point, she asked me if I understood, and I said yes. She said she didn’t know what I was thinking because I was just looking at her. I think she wanted to shame me and she couldn’t. At all.
Getting fired, like so many people say, is the best thing to happen to me.
I had been trying to get out of that job for literally 25 months. I actually had an interview that afternoon. I went in there, somewhat pleased that I had now experienced all ends of the employment spectrum. Having been laid off at the height of the recession, I knew I’d find something quicker this time, and I knew a lot better than to settle for the first offer that came, were there any hesitation, as there was before.
Most importantly, I forced myself to admit something I knew, but didn’t note as important as it should be. Culture. I know how I work best, and I need to work somewhere and with people who are comfortable with me. I probably ask more questions of a potential manager about what they would expect from me, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses, as they ask of me.
In the year that has passed, I’ve been in a great role where I have been able to utilize my skills and the most fun has been developing a coordinator by empowering her and making sure she is learning in her role. I am a happier person, and so many people can see that – it’s both mentally and physically visible.
Part of me regrets not going off on that miserable director, but I knew it wouldn’t serve me any good. I still think of her, especially when I get in a large donation, or I do something, such as share a story on our mission on social media, about which she would disapprove, and I smile. She bent me, but certainly didn’t break me, and I am a much better person for surviving 25 months of hell. I’m more confident and I have proven to everyone I know (and others I don’t) that I am a skille, successful development and communications professional.