No matter how many times I’ve been through a financial setback, it never gets easier. I lost my job today. I started the day in a wonderful mood. I had more energy than I’d had in weeks, and I was able to get more work accomplished at the outset of my day. I felt good. I came back from lunch satisfied with the start of my week, only to find out that the rug had been pulled out from under me.
None of the reasons made sense. A poor performance review? That never happened. While there was room for improvement, my score was positive, and I made the requested improvements and completed additional training. I was feeling good about my progress.
If I struggled with anything, it’s been the brain fog and fatigue of my chronic illness, which I have been working my schedule around. I even lined up a doctor’s appointment to address this symptom to keep it from interfering with my work. Losing my job was a shock to the system and the only issues I could point to were directly related to an illness that is out of my control and is being managed to the best of my ability.
Still, the reasons don’t matter, do they? In states like mine, they don’t have to have one. Nor do they have to give notice or provide severance. They can say they’re done, and we’re left trying to accept it while wondering what we did wrong and what we could have done differently.
Sounds just like a breakup, doesn’t it? The rejection and grief are similar. Like being dumped, we’re left wondering the why of it and judging the how. We’re left at loose ends, wondering what we’re supposed to do now.
After I finished bawling my eyes out, I had a startling moment of clarity: Every single redirection in my life has led me in the right direction. The divorce I never anticipated pushed me into a life I love. A previous layoff pushed me into taking a chance on my writing career. Breakups led me to breakthroughs. Each time my life fell apart, it came back together beautifully in ways I could never have imagined.
In the wake of losing a job I know I did well, I’m choosing to see this as a redirection in a better direction. If I’m honest with myself, I often felt frustrated at the time spent on tedious tasks when I’d rather have been working on a manuscript for my next book or flexing a little creativity on another project. I exchanged my time for financial stability, but it didn’t make me happy.
But it’s not just realizing that this could be an opportunity for my career. It’s also a reminder that I am capable of doing hard things. I’ve done them before. There’s plenty of evidence that I can take a downfall and turn it into a windfall. I just have to trust in my own innate resourcefulness.
Right now, I have everything I need. My bills are paid. My children are happy and healthy. I still have my writing, which has always been my passion and purpose. I run the numbers for my budget. I run them again. I run them until I can envision that gap closing.
I’ll never get used to these kinds of setbacks. There’s a sense of betrayal involved in addition to the sting of rejection, and it never gets easier. But I’ve gotten a hell of a lot stronger.
I stop adding up everything I’m losing and count what I’m gaining. I’m getting my time back — time to explore new directions and finish manuscripts that have been waiting for my attention. I’m leaving behind constant criticism for work that feels satisfying. I’m open to new opportunities and learning to let go of ones that couldn’t see my value.
I’m trusting the mysteries of the Universe. I don’t buy into everything happens for a reason, but I do believe we make choices that give the events in our lives meaning. I’m choosing to embrace the redirection.
Even though I’m having an emotional hangover from the shock and the tears, I feel a sense of underlying relief that tomorrow’s schedule is free of its usual tedium. I can sit down in front of a blank space and truly become the author of my next chapter.
Originally published on Medium