I got fired.
That's right, I was "terminated" from my six-figure a year employer that I have been with for six years. It is, by all intents and purposes, the dream job that society wants you to have and tells you to aspire to after college. You know, the type of job with full benefits, 401k match, high salary, bonus options, and stock options. Let's not forget the coveted title, which somehow replaced my identity.
However, in a swift three-minute conversation, I went from the "American Dream" to nothing. And you know what? I am OK.
It is a short-lived euphoria because for some reason the comfort I feel seems to freak people out. It is causing me to experience the phenomenon of people projecting their emotions onto my situation. Let me tell you, projection of emotions is a helluva a drug. It would probably make people more uncomfortable to know that I manifested this scenario about two and a half years ago. Even more intensely over the last six months, but I keep that part to myself. Crazy, right?
Burnout is real people, and I found myself hating waking up to a job that made me feel empty. What does a burnout and manifesting my "termination" have to do with anything? Well, let me give you a little context.
I am a neurophysiologist and I work for a contract company that provides neuromonitoring services to hospitals in the area. All that means is that I work at a high-intensity job that requires a lot of my time and a lot of me. I have been in this field for 10 years and I prided myself on being hardworking and bending over backwards for my company and for my surgeons. No one was going to outwork me, I was determined to be the best and to perform in excellence always. As one company slogan put it, I always strived at "having an A team player attitude."
My reality was long hours with no breaks, spur-of-the-moment travel, trauma calls, dying patients, crying families, disrespectful hospital staff and doctors, time away from your family, difficult coworker relationships, etc.
I was one of the few women of color that worked for the company and that presented a whole host of other issues. But you get the point, it is tough. To top that off, several events occurred that let me know I was not of as much value as I thought when company culture shifted from being people-centric to numbers-centric. I was already doing the typical work-twice-as-hard-to-be-half-as-good dance that most people of color experience in the workplace and I was still struggling to maintain my purpose. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful to have a job, but I decided to start formulating my exit strategy.
It just so happened, the universe beat me to it.
However, the people closest to me did not share my sentiments of freedom. They instead asked questions like, "What are you going to do now?" or "What is your plan?" Honestly, I had no answer for them, I didn't care about any of that. I just didn't feel the need to have an answer or to rush this current season that I had just been thrust into. Sure, I didn't have any systems in place for when this happened, but I knew that if I panicked I would end up right back in the same place with a job that made me miserable.
I had to be strategic with this time. Most importantly, I had to own this time and not let anyone interrupt what the universe was doing for me.
The ask of what was I going to do next, in itself, seemed like an indictment on my personhood rather than genuine concern. It seemed to create disappointment in people when I had no answer to any of the questions. I decided to let all that go and do for me what is best. That is not a luxury I feel black women or women of color get often, if ever. I owe no one anything, especially not my time.
Recently, at a book signing with Elaine Welteroth for More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), she was explaining her decision to leave Teen Vogue. It was one of those moments in her life where things shifted and she had to follow a different path than what she had planned. Obviously, this resonated with me because I am also in the midst of the same shift. She said something that struck me deep:
"Your life is a series of dreams realized, you do not have to be defined by one dream."
At that moment, I felt seen and heard.
Losing my job is an opportunity for me to finally do what I want. To discover the things I love and to live my life in full potential. I had the "American Dream," and now I get a chance to have my dream.
What do I have to say to those who question me about losing my job? It's bigger than me now, life is taking me on the journey and all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other.
It's OK. I'm OK.
Featured image by Amer-Marie Woods/Instagram
Originally published on July 2, 2019.