“I’ve got some bad news,” the crooked face on the computer monitor began as he muted the video before finishing his sentence. “We’re terminating your employment…” Just like that 10 years of proven success in an industry attached to a career of daily sales metrics and quotas, had ended. Whereas most at this age would be aghast and overcome with the feelings associated with unemployment and paying for their own healthcare, I couldn’t help but sigh a sense of unexplainable relief. It was over.
I waited for reality to sink in. Surely the crushing blow to my self-esteem was on its way. I just got dumped after all, where is the mourning period? How did we get here and why it didn’t hurt as bad as I had always feared? I was single again. Yes, in their eyes I deserved to be fired. We had to break up; after all, in several managerial one-on-ones my boss harped that my attitude proved I did not want to be a part of the company. After presenting an online training platform to the entire company during an all employee trip to Lake Placid, I chose to work on my graduate school finals instead of attending the company’s pie eating contest. Furthermore, I intentionally avoided the karaoke contest, so that I could finalize my submission and have it uploaded in a timely manner. Putting my passions and future before the need to be visible on the employee stage was unacceptable. It was me, it wasn’t them… and after mild consideration I’m able to admit they were right. I was in a committed relationship with an employer who didn’t share my morale compass, yet demanded my loyalty and interest in building the relationship. Miss a pie eating contest? You may as well have not sent the arbitrary text to see how their day was going. How inconsiderate. As the stale man on the phone finalized my severance agreement, the albatross flew from my neck opening a floodgate of relief throughout my Lowertown apartment. The relationship was over, and we’re both better off for it.
Employment is much like any relationship. It can grow and blossom, providing long term satisfaction while helping to shape who we ultimately become. It can also restrain, preventing us from who we ultimately aim to be and what we truly want to accomplish. This note is a reminder that we all deserve better than being married to toxicity in any aspect of our life. Much like a quality partner, the career you love should never be a burden or fight against your ethics… Personally or professionally we should never allow ourselves to simply “have a job.” The right fit can teach you valuable lessons and reward with the feelings of success and positive direction. After this experience, I spent the next several months committed to finding that fit.
Liberated, I searched for that fit in myself – in Thailand while being blessed by Buddhist monks, and in Australia during Vivid Sydney. The arbitrary sales quotas removed from my shoulders, I stretched across the entire continental United States. While sleeping in hostels, tents, and my car, I shared some of the most fantastic experiences and conversations throughout an entire globe. I was reminded of how truly large and unruly the world can be when not bound by quotas or video conferences and agendas. Simply put, I found and fell in love with my new partner – discovery and understanding.
This never would have happened without the crooked faced man from the northeast, his unethical business, and his nonsensical demands. As this is all I’ve ever known of a career, I would’ve stayed and let him continue to abuse me emotionally at the whim of his own ego.
I fully understand life without a safety net can be intimidating, whether it’s a workplace or a relationship; however there comes a time where we must ask ourselves what we could truly accomplish, or who we could truly be without these securities to bind us to the life and relationships we’ve created. If you’re unhappy in your relationship – leave. If you’re unhappy with your job – leave. With the finite amount of time we have on this planet, we owe ourselves the search for those people and experiences that truly enrich our lives. It’s just a job, homie… don’t let it define you… After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea.