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How Getting Fired Taught Me A Lesson In Humility

Sometimes getting fired can be a blessing in disguise

Workin' Girl

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the news that Tamar Braxton was fired from her position as one of the hosts of the daytime TV talk show The Real. And unless you've never heard of the famous Braxton sister before, you'd know that she is what many would call a “firecracker". She has a very strong personality and unfortunately to some, it may come off as abrasive or rude. According to reports, those were traits that allegedly didn't sit too well with producers and sponsors of the show.

Often times however, what many people don't understand is that strong personalities are often the result of something deeper than what's observed on the surface level. In my case, a combination of childhood bullying, shyness, and constant let-downs led to me developing a tough shell. After being disappointed by others over the years, that hard shell toughened even more and I began to develop an IDGAF attitude. The sweet me that was often taken advantage of had dissipated and I had become a bitch.

Don't get me wrong, my stank attitude was never a conscious effort. In most cases, I never realized how my attitude was coming across to others. It was only after being dealt a huge blow to my ego by being fired and learning why I was fired, that I was able to reevaluate myself and deal with the underlying issues causing my abrasiveness.

Getting fired sucks.

But getting fired due to what some may deem a personality defect (insert the PC term for "strong personality" here) sucks even worse. I can't speak for Tamar, but in my case, being fired for my “attitude" resulted in a dose of humility and taking some time out to check myself - and my attitude.

Read on for a few takeaways I learned about myself by getting fired:

There's a Thin Line Between Confidence and Cockiness

I am a perfectionist. I strive to do well with any and every thing I take on. For that reason, I've become accustomed to the feeling of pride that has come with me winning and accomplishing what I've set out to achieve. With my success came a lot of cockiness.

That cockiness led to the demise of a lot of my relationships, both personal and professional. When I was younger, I was the exact opposite of cocky. I was very shy, I didn't have much self-esteem, and I feared failure and rejection from others. These were traits I possessed in my youth that affected me more than I realized at the time.

Fast-forward to me getting fired, I came to the realization my cocky attitude played a major role in my termination. I had convinced myself that I was going to take my former supervisor's job and I believe she realized my intentions. Once that reality hit, she made it her business to protect her position, as she should have. We eventually became competitive, and even though she was my superior, I personally didn't respect her authority like I should have. I compared the two of us and felt above her in most instances: I'm one year older than her, more experienced than her, and the only thing that separated me from her during my employment was that she had one degree more than me. Honestly, I did a lot of the work she should have done, but she worked hard to get where she was within the company.

I failed to respect her accomplishments and support her and instead, chose to compete with her.

That ended with me losing my job.

Being fired dealt a huge blow to my ego, but it also resulted in me realizing that while it's OK to be confident in my abilities, cockiness is not “cute" and in the end I did not win due to no one's fault but my own. Lesson learned.

No Matter How Successful I Get, There's Always Someone Who Can Check Me

My failure to realize that yes, I can be checked, was an obvious result of that cockiness I mentioned earlier. As a child, I changed from a shy, sweet little girl to a rebellious, smart-mouthed teenager. Regrettably, I put my mother and those around me through hell. While there were certain circumstances that led to my behavior, some of it was also, admittedly, me being a brat and wanting my way all the time. I developed a bad attitude and an overall lack of respect for authority. That attitude carried over into adulthood and my professional life as well. When I graduated from high school, I enlisted in the military.

You would think the military would straighten me out—wrong. I didn't care what anyone said there either, I was only there to collect a check. While I'm being honest about my frame of mind at the time, I must admit the way I used to act is completely embarrassing to me. What's even more embarrassing is how long it took me to realize that I'm not in control of everything and that I never will be. "Control" being the keyword.

During a bit of self-reflection after getting fired, I came to realize that control is what I wanted.

I wanted it because of the many negative situations in my past that I felt helpless to prevent. My lack of control during those situations made it hard for me to understand the boundaries of control and I became controlling, ruining relationships, friendships and professional opportunities in the process. The only way I've been able to overcome that time in my life is to learn that there will always be someone that can check me, even if it's God Himself. I learned that exhibiting humility doesn't make me less of a leader, it makes me a stronger one.

How I Rise From My Failures is What is Most Important

Sometimes when everyone is saying the same thing about you, it doesn't hurt to listen. More likely than not, if it's something that's said a lot, it's something that's true. I learned to listen and accept the truth when others would tell me what was holding me back from going forward in life. Most of the time, it was my attitude. While hearing my attitude was a problem right after getting fired felt like I was being kicked while I was down, the truth is I commend my true friends and family for being honest with me. Those truths helped me rise up to be the woman I am meant to be. Getting fired sucks, especially when you have so many goals and aspirations tied to a particular position or company.

In my case, being fired put me right back at start, but it was a good thing ultimately.

It helped me reevaluate myself, understand who I am and my potential, and rise up amidst adversity. In an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, Tamar revealed, in regards to getting fired, that it was God's way of making her take a leap of faith forward and leave that show behind her. Because she had been ignoring Him, He basically pushed her off the cliff, so that she would have no choice but to have her faith. My experience with getting fired was similar.

It was God's way of kicking me off of my horse and forcing me to be gracious for my blessings.

Since then, I've moved forward and accomplished many things, but I keep a dose of humility with me at all times, just in case I begin to start feeling myself too much.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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