Things You Only Know If… You’ve Been Fired

Bob Foster has been fired an impressive three times in his life, so if anyone knows the things you only know when you've lost your job, it's him


by Robert Foster |
Published on

If you’re any kind of fun at parties, you’re bound to end up getting fired at least once in your early twenties. I mysel, have been fired three times. I got fired from a media agency for doing drugs on a Wednesday, from a farm job for being late every day (but fuck those guys, 7am starts are terrible) and a clothes shop for being rude to customers for having bad taste in clothes.

So getting fired is sometimes inevitable, and even when it feels like the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, it probably isn’t. You just don’t know it at the time.

And, as you emerge, blinking into the sunlight, clutching your contents of your desk in a cardboard box (assuming you got the sack in an American film), console yourself with this fact: you’re now part of a select group of people who’ve seen the other side. You’ve lived the ultimate work (if not life) fear – total and utter failure – and survived it. Here are a few things you’ll only know if you’ve been through the looking glass.

Once you’re ten paces away from the office, you’ll feel amazing

Let’s face it, if you just got fired, there’s a strong chance you were fully aware things weren’t going well between you and your employers – trust me, a full-on termination of contract never comes totally out of the blue. Going to work was probably becoming akin to a never ending double chemistry lesson: incomprehensible, boring and full of stern people telling you you're wrong. Following a humiliating walk of shame through the office after you’ve ‘popped into your boss’ office for a chat’, you’ll make it outside and realise you’re going to leave the hell hole forever.

Don’t pack your desk in front of everyone – there was never anything in my desk worth the humiliation – you’re about to feel the sweet release of freedom exploding in your heart, so just straight to the pub, do not pass go, do not rescue those three packs of post-it notes and the box of tissues from your desk.

There’s a brief hiatus between the moment you get fired and the moment you realise you can’t pay your rent – learn to revel in it

When you wake up the next morning, hungover from that bottle of white wine your mate bought you as a sympathy gift, and remember that the job that has been causing a gnawing pit of anxiety in your stomach for the last six months no longer exists. The worst – getting fired – has happened and you’re still here. Even better, you get a lie in. The high from this will last for a good few days, before you casually check your bank balance, so enjoy it.

When you have to, you’re still able to lie to your parents

So when you make the inevitable phone call to ma and pa requesting a bit of financial back up for the foreseeable, do you tell them that your getting fired was 80% of your own making? Of course not – you lie – and it turns out, you’re as good at it now as you were in second year at uni when you blew your student loan for summer term in the first ten day.

It might be a while since you’ve had to pull this trick, but oh boy, when you get back into the swing of making up bullshit that paints you as blameless, it’s still as easy as it was when you got excluded for a week for cutting out a chunk of Sarah Jackson’s hair in year 11. If you’re feeling down about yourself for losing your job, this small victory should at least reassure you that you’re not totally terrible at everything.

**Spare time isn't as fun as you think **

The first few days of playing Playstation in my underpants and ordering Dominos at 11am when it opens might feel amazing for the first few weeks, but all that spare time didn't do wonders for my optimism and general hope for the future. Plus, sitting around doesn’t exactly warrant the best wage and all those pizzas are expensive. With that in mind...

**You should work out what you want to do **

Lettuce be cereal for a second: you didn't lose your job because you were too stupid or incompetent to do it – any moron can do data entry, sell shoes or do low-level account management if they really want to. You lost your job because your mind was elsewhere; maybe it was also full of drugs and booze and functioning on no sleep, but it was also elsewhere. Simply, you lost your job because you didn’t care about your job, and why should you? If you don’t know what you want to do, doing a job you hate is terrible because you feel like you might be doing it forever. If you’re lucky enough to afford to be able to, take some time to work out what it is you want to do (clue: it’s not data entry), then even if you go back another day and do another shitty job, you’ll at least have something to work towards and something the focus on beyond getting wasted or Googling convincing whooping cough symptoms in time for that Friday morning call to work or whatever. Which leads me to my final point…

No-one else remembers or cares that you once got fired

Once you’ve got a proper job under your belt – one you like, and are good at, and where people treat you like a proper human being – your brief hiatus as an executive assistant for the deputy assistant vice president of an obscure Swiss bank will be a mere blip on your CV. Better yet, remove it completely and say you spent that six months travelling.

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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