career

"Dear former employer. You fired me but I am now moving on from you."

Dear former employer,

It’s been ten months since the day you called. I’d just had my performance review, an intense process that involved a three hour self-evaluation and a two hour meeting with my manager. I’d come through with flying colours – I was exceeding all of my KPI’s, I’d been nominated for several staff awards, and I was a highly engaged member of the team.

Then you rang. You’d told me the meeting would be about ‘updating my job title,’ so I’d been expecting to have a conversation about my yearly pay increase – obvs in the bag thanks to my rocking review. You assigned the most unpleasant HR manager and my newly appointed supervisor, a nervy, stumbling mess of a man to drop the bomb: you were making me redundant.

moving on from being fired

Kate Squires. Image via Facebook.

Like every dumpee ever, I started to plead, to prove my worth. “But I’ve given four years of my life to this company,” I said, shaking and trying to comprehend why you were ditching me. “I’ve been an exemplary staff member, I’ve been promoted! I’ve gone above and beyond at every turn!” I’d also endangered my marriage by travelling extensively for my job and had my son in full-time care since he was seven months old, all because I was dedicating myself to my career within this company.

“We’re sorry,” was the only response. “We’re going in a different direction. Your position no longer exists.”
And that was it. Dumped. Out on my arse. I wept. I drank a lot of wine. I frantically combed Seek, hoping that the perfect job might appear. I spent every night for a month lying awake in crippling anxiety. I’m not proud of it, but you broke my spirit that day.

Ten months later, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned since that terrible day you decided to ‘go in a different direction.’ Just like any break up, there are always lessons hidden in the angst. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. There are work buddies, and there are true friends.

Part of why my redundancy was so crushing was that I was so close with the people I worked with. We collaborated, socialised, every company mandated dinner was a joyful reunion of mateship and laughter, and we considered ourselves more of a family than of work colleagues.

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Almost a year later, and guess how many of those same ‘friends’ are still in contact? One. But he’s a keeper. I’ve been taught that the people who are truly your friends will stick by you, regardless of your proximity to the water cooler.

2. Making me redundant does not mean I am redundant as a person.

I hated that word for a really long time: redundant. They gave me a label, a horrible one, as if I was a diseased and useless toe that needed to be amputated, and I started to embody that classification. I now know that my worth as a human being is not defined by what I do for money, but by the things I do for love.

3. It’s not personal.

It was personal for me, of course. I analysed every possible reason for why they’d let me go when I was damn good at my job. Was it because I was a woman? A mother? Because I had one too many glasses of red at the last corporate function? Am I not pretty enough? It felt personal, because I was personally and loyally invested in the company. But company loyalty just like pissing in a wetsuit – it gives you a warm feeling, and that’s about it. Once I took personal feelings out of the equation, I got over the rejection much faster.

moving on from being fired

I gave everything to that job. Image via iStock.

I’m doing fine now, thanks for asking. For a while, I stressed out over the little things, you know, like ‘how am I going to feed my children?’ and ‘how long until my redundancy payment runs out and I’m homeless. At the time, you told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be sure to find something else,” but I didn’t. I haven’t been full-time employed since my last pay check with you.

But it’s been an incredible time. I dyed my hair lavender, something that never would have been allowed in your austere corporate environment. I’ve pulled my son out of day care and reconnected with him, and many of his behavioural issues have improved dramatically. I’ve helped my husband work on his business, instead of helping you grow yours. With the extra headspace I’ve bought back, I can plan for the future again, rather than just sprinting towards each new deadline. I’ve been following my passions, writing and yoga, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Sure, sometimes I still think of you. But it’s not with bitterness; it’s with gratitude that I’m not still caught up on your treadmill, giving my all until I’m used up and ruined. I’d like to officially say thank you for freeing me, for acting as an agent of the universe and helping my life to shift in a way that never would have happened if I was still under your thumb.

All the best to you. I’d tell you to call if you need me, but the truth is I’ll be too busy to answer. I’m full-time invested being the best version of me.

Kate J. Squires

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