Opening Your Parachute 10


I got fired from my job yesterday.

In my subjective opinion, what I did – or failed to do – was low on the list of fire-able offenses. But guess what? My name isn’t on the side of the building, and my opinion on what qualifies as a fire-able offense is irrelevant. Even more so as I write this.

But this isn’t about me getting fired. I’ve had a number of feelings about what took place today, but not the ones I’d have expected from myself if this had happened several years ago.

I have no fear about what comes next. My confidence in myself is the same as it was this morning.

Right now, I feel empowered. The truth is, this gave me a chance at something I have lacked the courage to do for a few years now. I have been standing at the edge of a cliff with a parachute on my back, wondering if it would open if I jumped.

I’ve known it would open if I did – but not before a few moments of terror on my way down. Today I got pushed.

The metaphor, if it’s lost on you, is about going back to working for myself. I had a degree of success at this four years ago as a hybrid ghost writer/social media strategist/personal trainer/event emcee. And I got suckered back in to ‘the real world’ through a lucrative freelance opportunity. And thereafter, a full-time job.

Much of who I am as a professional is a credit to the company that let me go yesterday. I developed a grit and edge that I hadn’t possessed before, and a spirit of ownership and pride in my work. I will always be grateful to the people who helped make me into that type of professional, and who have offered me words of encouragement and ‘you promise this isn’t a joke?’ on the way out.

No one wants to get fired. I wanted this to happen on my terms. It didn’t.

I was pushed into something that more of us should have the courage to do but spend our lives in 9-6 monotony instead. And if I’m honest, if my day hadn’t gone the way it did, I might very well have gone on toiling in corporately-induced frustrations for years to come. All to collect something financially steady, in hopes that the next day might be the day I receive outward acknowledgement of my efforts (granted, my efforts were acknowledged yesterday, but…).

Instead, I woke up this morning with a clean slate. I went to bed at 1:00 am after sifting through my contacts and writing down ideas until my eyelids wouldn’t hold.

What skills were required of me to be successful in the employ of someone else that I don’t have at my full disposal now? When I woke up this morning, I was still David Berry. No one took my ability to write, strategize, make a presentation or analyze data. The only thing that’s been taken from me is the place that I utilized those skills.

In so many ways, this situation is a standard life lesson that happens to have financial implications. I got dumped a month ago from a relationship that I thought was secure, like my job. That situation came with its own setbacks. But again – it did nothing to change who I am and what I possess. What I am capable of giving, or being, is unaffected by my circumstances.

That will still be true a few weeks from now, when the bravado of these statements have been replaced with a handful of rejections or low ball contract offers. Or radio silence.

But I am not going to pursue a new full time job. I am going to take the hard route through this season of my professional life and compel my way forward, to a successful business on my terms. More than that, though, I will celebrate the gift of something I bitched about for months.

I am regaining autonomy. I am getting back two hours of every day that I was spending in a car. I will apply the same work ethic as before, but will win or lose on the strength of my effort.

I am going to lose sometimes. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to doubt myself. Other people will doubt me too. But I’m now carrying a lesson that I only wish I’d learned sooner. That I am enough today. I was enough yesterday. I am capable of more than I give myself credit for, and that I can achieve more than the limits of a job title.

Of course I want my success to be measured in dollars. But I want my success to be measured in some smaller things too. I’ve wondered for nearly three years what it would feel like to spend an hour on a Tuesday laying in the sun with my phone off. I’ll let you know tonight how it felt.

I’ve wanted to spend more time exercising; riding my bike and boxing. Preparing my own meals and sitting at a table to eat them. I will do all of those things.

There is never an ideal time to jump. In your head and in your heart, you’re 99% sure your parachute will open when you do it. But there you are on the ledge. There’s firm ground underneath you and it’s safe up there. You could jump, but you don’t have to. So why would you?

As I said before, my ledge is gone. I got pushed. My parachute is on my back, and I have dropped the first 100 feet.

Now it’s time to fly.

Post script: I am now putting into the world my intentions. I’m looking to establish myself professionally in two areas that I love – digital/social media strategy, and ghost writing. I have no sign on my store. Actually, I don’t even have a store. I don’t know the name of my company yet, though I have some ideas. But I am officially open for business.

I also have three things I intend to accomplish that have nothing to do with work:

1. Sell my book ’10 Phases of Dating.’ This project has been three-plus years in the making, but I am finally done. I am editing the final three chapters and working with a designer for a few cover options. There’s the process of converting it to an ebook, getting some hard copies printed and getting a website up, but six months from now, this book WILL be in your hands to read, if you so choose.

2. I want to compete in an amateur boxing match. I’ll have more time to train now. I’ll use the two extra hours per day that I spent in a car and spend it getting my ass kicked instead, but this has been a pipe dream of mine since I was 23.

3. Volunteering. I gave eight years of my best free time to an organization called Radio Lollipop, and it was and is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done. A job in Fort Lauderdale while living in Miami Beach prevented me from continuing there. I don’t know what I’ll give my time to now, but I intend to choose carefully and to invest myself in it fully.

In closing – of all the things I could be feeling today, the thing I feel most is gratitude. I have received so many words of support from people who believe in me and care for me. And I want to thank a handful of people because I feel such a degree of gratitude for all that they did to make my work environment what it was. Scott, my big boss, for trusting me, teaching me and guiding me through the things I didn’t know. And for caring about me the person, in addition to me the professional. My pod – Jasmine, Michelle, Becca, Karlene and Chloe – I would normally be asking you what each of you is happy about today, so now it’s my turn – I am happy I had the chance to work alongside some of the brightest, most ambitious and warm-hearted women I’ve ever met. To Maria for being a peer that I could confide in, to Sara for keeping me tough and showing me we were best when we put our minds together. To Adam Herman for being a mentor I hope to always keep. To Brian, Steph and Lisa for working tirelessly for the sake of great work. C-Deezy for providing a safe zone to vent and get things done. And even to the man who fired me – I learned a lot in your building. Now it’s time to build my own.


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