When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell.
That’s a quote I’ve used for many years; usually said to a friend or relative going thru a hard time. I’m not the best communicator when it comes to the spoken word. I’ve always thought that I’m way better on paper when I can take a little more time to think about what I want to say and don’t have to look at someone looking back at me. I just never know the right thing to say when someone shares bad news. I almost always say something trite and totally moronic like “everything happens for a reason” (even though I don’t even believe that) and then immediately hate myself for never being prepared to say something helpful or comforting.
So what does this have to do with the name of my blog and why am I talking about it now? Well of all the quotes out there, it’s one of the few I actually believe to be true, especially in light of recent events.
I decided to change jobs late last year to diversify a little (my husband and I previously worked for the same company). Although I took a huge reduction in pay, had to commute much farther than my old job, and it turned out to be pretty much a sweat shop, I was fairly happy there for a while. There were lots of fun and interesting people there and the work was enjoyable. It’s one of those creative places where they liked to state that we were a big family, all in it together, they wouldn’t let me fail, they had my back, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. You see where this is going.
Four months into this little lovefest my boss scheduled a 9am meeting with me and I thought nothing of it. I had no idea that the meeting’s purpose was to walk me straight into HR’s office and tell me that my employment had been terminated. I’d never lost a job before and sat there totally numb while he blah blah blah’d some more about it not being personal, not a performance issue, strictly done to cut costs, please hand over everything that belongs to us, and oh by the way get the hell out right now without taking any of YOUR personal stuff with you. I had no idea this was coming so, unfortunately, the numbness blocked my rage and I couldn’t find the words or energy to say that I wanted my personal stuff NOW. I did manage to ask for my coat, purse, and the Amy’s Organic lunch I had in the freezer, but that’s all. I kind of regret not being a bitch and demanding they give me my belongings then and there, but I made them ship it all to me as I wasn’t about to step foot in that place again to pick up my things. So there is some satisfaction in knowing that someone had to pack it all up and incur the expense of shipment. Twice, actually, since they didn’t send everything the first time and I was not about to let them get away with keeping anything that belonged to me.
And in retrospect, I should have seen this all coming. I was part of a team that had made a costly mistake on the primo account and took a lot of flack from the fallout. We were scrutinized every minute of the day after that and really hounded to make sure our work was perfect which was very stressful. But I really should have seen this coming when they took me and my colleague out of the lead roles and gave the lead position to another colleague who had no experience with that client at all. It seemed a little strange at the time but I trusted that they “had our back” and “wouldn’t let us fail” and rolled with it.
I also thought it strange during this meeting when the big shake-up occurred that my manager did not utter a word, nor would she look at any of us, and both managers didn’t answer any of my questions satisfactorily. The manager who had been on my side since day 1 and had always been fairly helpful and supportive had completely cut me off only I was too freaking busy to even notice until the night before I was let go and I was training the new team lead. We were in the office past 9pm and he commented that it was odd that neither of our managers had checked in with us. Usually if someone on their team is still there when they leave, they’ll stop by to see if there is a problem and if they can do anything to help. But not this time. I agreed and said that it had just occurred to me that both managers had been really standoffish for about a week.
For the first few weeks I was upset thinking about the lost income, the lost opportunity, the worry about our financial future, and if I’d be able to find another job anytime soon. Part of me felt a little bit of relief though too which is weird. I’ve heard other people who got fired say the same thing but never really understood it until now. The only way I can explain it is that getting fired and not having any income is something people worry about all the time, but once it happens there’s really only the one thing to be worried about rather than both.
I was most surprised those first few weeks to find that I was more upset about the loss of the people than the loss of the income. Sure, I was worried about those things, but I couldn’t help wondering if I made any impact or added any value there at all. Of the dozens of people I worked with there, talked with every day, spent so much time with, only two bothered to say anything to me after I got fired. The people who claimed I was family, who praised my work daily, who couldn’t say enough nice things about me completely turned their backs. Two months have gone by and I’ve only ever heard from those two people. I still sometimes wonder if it was all a dream and I never really worked there. If I didn’t have those two friends in my life still I might truly believe that.
The other thing that bugged me was that my manager had scheduled that meeting almost a full week ahead of the day I was let go and the subject line was something about following up on training. So dorky me flounces into a meeting thinking we’re going to talk about training and productivity, when it was all a ruse to get me into HR’s office exactly at 9am.
I kept busy doing all the usual jobseeker stuff. Updated my resume, added people to LinkedIn, met with recruiters, surfed the job boards, and waited for something to happen. But until I made the conscious effort to believe that when a door closes another opens, not much happened. I had to stop turning back and looking at that closed door with regret before something great would come of this situation.
So when I made the decision to stop reading that chapter over and over and open my mind to the next, things started to happen and I realized that losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me. I started to enjoy my time off. I found an incredible nature center less than 2 miles from my house that I now go to several times a week. I love hiking the trails and listening to the sounds of and sights of the various creatures and vegetation in there. It’s become one of my favorite places.
I was so sleep deprived when I was working and had six weeks to catch up on sleep. I spent tons of time with my parents. I did a little work on the house, cooked some new recipes for dinners, and took some weekend trips to visit relatives I haven’t seen in ages. I caught up on some old movies and dusty books that were waiting to be read and really enjoyed my time off.
And just when I was starting to feel like I had enough time off a new job popped up out of the most unlikely place. I happened to be talking to an online contact that I did some freelance work for and told her I had lost my job. She had been writing up a job description for a position she needed to fill and thought it sounded just like me.
Within just a few days I was hired and I absolutely love my job. Yes, you heard that right. I. Love. My. Job. I’m still able to use some of the skills from my previous career which is great but I’m learning so many new things and it’s a blast. Now instead of laying in bed at night worrying about work, I lay in bed wondering what fun task tomorrow will bring. Instead of waking up and wishing I could hit the snooze button all day, I get right up and sieze the day. And instead of watching the clock all day and wondering when I’ll get to go home, I now look up at the clock and wonder how the time passed so quickly.
You see, when all was said and done I lost my job and a few people I thought were friends, but along the way I found myself and found out who my true friends are. For the first time in my life I am truly happy. I’m so happy that I stopped turning back to that closed door and faced the one that was about to be opened upon me. I love my job, I love my co-workers, I love my boss, I love being able to travel a bit for work. I love working from home full time with my cat beside me. I love that I’m closer to my husband and that he comes home to a happy wife at the end of his day. I love life.