Lessons I Learned From Getting Fired

I’ll never forget how it felt to land my dream job. It was a blogger position at the website of a fancy magazine I’d been reading since I was 15. When I opened the offer email, I was thrilled, and more than a little nervous. Would the job — and my performance — live up to my crazy-high expectations?
Cut to five weeks later — and one of the most nerve-wracking conversations of my life. “I know you tried really hard,” the editor to whom I reported said condescendingly, as she fired me after seven days (seven days!) on the job. "Even a really great writer would have a difficult time in this position."
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Getting canned after a week was humiliating, sure (I’d giddily announced my hire on Facebook). But, worse, it made me question everything I thought I knew about my career path. Was I a fraud? An incompetent writer who’d only passed as legit? I tried to step away from the computer for a couple weeks to lick my wounds, but after recommitting to the life of a freelance writer — a life I generally love — I began to accept, and survive. I’m not going to claim I’m happy about my ousting; it still stings. But, it taught me some lessons that I’ll carry into my next position, and beyond.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Trust Your Gut
As my training got underway at Dream Publication, I noticed how clueless the staff seemed to be about getting me up to speed on their core processes, and a flicker of panic began to surface. That flicker flared up again when I announced my new gig on Facebook. As my finger hovered over the "update" button, an internal voice nudged me: DON'T. If you’re in doubt about an offer, take time to mull it over.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Stand Up For What You're Worth
In retrospect, the amount of money I was offered for a super-high-pressure gig was laughable. I knew I should have fought for more, or walked. Low pay is a sign of low respect, especially from a huge, successful company. Ask for more — they can only say no (or yes!).
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Ask For Clarification When You Need It
My boss was vocal about giving feedback on my work, but I didn’t push her for specifics. Her vague comments confused me, which hindered my writing. If you're not sure exactly what your boss means when she says, "Don’t editorialize so much," don’t assume; ask. If your work situation feels like it’s spiraling downward, talk to your boss directly instead of stewing.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Don't Take Someone Else's Crazy Personally
When my boss started nitpicking everything I did after my first day, I knew logically that she was being a little nuts; I deserved some time to get settled. But, I internalized her criticism and assumed I was inept, prone to dumb mistakes. My fear about doing a poor job affected my performance, which then snowballed my boss’ hyper-criticism. If someone is imposing insane expectations, giving you zero room for growth, recognize that — and don’t personalize it.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Grieve the Loss
It sounds cheesy, but losing a job — especially a job you loved — is a loss. You’re allowed to feel that, to freak out and grieve. Getting ousted after a week made me feel disposable, and because my work has always comprised my identity, losing a gig in such dramatic fashion unhinged me. Take the time to process that.
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Designed by Anna Sudit.
Know When to Walk Away
After just a few days in my new position, it started to become obvious that the stress and anxiety involved weren’t going to work for me long-term. I realized quickly that I’d need to walk away if things didn’t improve. In those moments, I learned again how important it is to pay attention — and, circling back to No. 1, to truly follow your gut in determining what’s right for you, workwise. No job is worth your sanity.
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