I deserved to lose my job when I did. My output rate had declined during the 6 months leading up to that day. My billability was not surpassing those who shared cubicles to my left and right side. I did not attend every team social lunch because I had exactly 8 hours to get my shit done before I went straight to my next job without having dinner yet. The glimmers of hope and cohesion I walked into the door with on the first day had been smothered. Along with my enthusiasm for the work I was doing, due to a number of circumstantial factors, both in and outside of the office.
These are the clear and concise, yet unsubstantiated facts, as to why I believe I was fired. After frantically scouring the legal jargon of the employment agreement and non-compete I signed on day one, I learned my contract didn’t require my employer to provide any reasoning or details in regard to why they felt a severance of ties was the best path forward. I could have issued a request for answers and they would have 10 days to serve me the receipts following my exit interview. But after I’d calmed down a little I realized reading those details would probably be my official demise. If their review process felt abrasive and excruciating, I’m pretty sure reading aloud the details of why I was terminated would have this time ruined me for good.
I opted not to take that gamble, third times a charm definitely would not have rung true in this case. Instead, I’ve had countless conversations with myself since the day I received my official papers of termination, “effective immediately.” *shiver*
I remember wincing at those last and final words. Even though I wasn’t shocked that this was my fate, anticipation didn’t soften the blow. My fight or flight instincts kicked in on impact.
Unfortunately what that sometimes looks like for me is initial panic, followed by a category 5 hurricane of questions, and the grand finale, good old ugly cry. Usually then I go on mute and become so paralyzed by my body’s visceral response, that I can’t even find the strength to string together smart, coherent sentences.
But this reaction was nothing new to her, my manager and CEO of the company. She was used to seeing me sad and confused by then thanks to my 6 and 12-month performance reviews. I think the peer review process was really what broke the camel’s back for me. And that’s not me displacing blame. That’s me being brutally honest. The company culture, and their intolerance for soft spines and bullshit, is why I didn’t last longer than I did.
Those one-on-one, bi-annual review meetings and the format in which they used to present feedback chewed me up and spit me out. It was a process that no matter how much good feedback was given to make the rest a little more palpable, left my spirit and my self-confidence absolutely beaten to a pulp. After a day or two would go by, it’d get a little bit better. I usually stopped crying by then. But that was not their problem, it was mine. And they could spot it from a mile away throughout the course of my initial rounds of interviews.
The moral of the story here is most simply put like this: Inprela’s initial assessment of me checked out. I was too soft to work for them and be successful, not only because the scope of work required fire, resilience and unwavering tenacity, but the company culture and office politics maybe definitely aren’t for everyone.
Now I feel obliged to interrupt here before I get too far ahead of myself. I’d like to make it clear that the goal of this post is not to sound spiteful or bitter, because ultimately I know the only person’s shoulder this extreme failure lies upon are my own. Trust, this message is not coming from a disgruntled former employee. Quite the contrary actually. Or well, mostly at least.
I have nothing but respect and gratitude left for my CEO and President, who gave me more than one chance to prove myself fit to be an Inprelian. I am endlessly grateful for the 365 days (or so) that I got to soak up their brilliance and use it to enhance my professional skill set. Two women who have proven that we are collectively and individually powerful enough to operate a legit and excellent business practice without the help of men (minus a husband that provides beer and a handy father who built things — major key).
I’m thankful for my directors Heather & Hilary.
Sigrid – the most lovely and spunky Inprelian, who stuck her neck out for me and gave the team the last stamp of approval they needed before they’d believe I had the ability to fake fire when all I really had was rainwater.
Amanda, who was my partner on what seemed like the most rewarding projects and possesses the most powerful combination of charisma, leadership and positivity I’ve ever come across.
Calla, my “big sis” mentor, my coach, my friend and all around the most resourceful, encouraging, and hilarious coworker of all time.
Alexa, who shows up to work every day with an enthusiasm and can-do mindset that I’m pretty sure is virtually unshakeable.
Becca, who walked in with me on our first day. Being the first to witness my mortifyingly hilarious first impression. The one when I almost shattered the brand new and shiny glass door with my pull force, because I was too distracted by the butterflies in the pit of my stomach to notice the hot pink sticky note reading “PUSH” in shouty caps. Not only did she NOT cancel me after that episode of sheer embarrassment. But she made my whole Inprela experience a little less scary with her ability to maintain grace under fire, and fearlessness when it came to trying new things.
Karina, who was the only one in the office that could truly relate to my quiet, less assertive disposition. Karina took the extra time to provide gentle advice when she edited my work, and she always knew how to check in when I was having a rough day. In hindsight, I think she knew this was a more effective way to get through to someone with a different Strengths Finder result, MBTI and PI Index than the rest of the office. Karina and I learned that we are both INFJs early on and at that moment it felt like she became a trusted ally and confidant.
I think trust is the most essential foundational element to any successful relationship. Trust followed very closely by understanding. Whether it be a friendship, work relationship or romantic relationship. Without those fundamental assets, all you’ve got is a hot bed for crossed wires and conflict. After my 6 month review, I felt extremely misunderstood, undervalued, and defeated. It was hard to trust them anymore and I could no longer maintain open lines of communication with anyone in the office. I can only imagine how misunderstanding my distant presence made them feel after that. This, I believe, is why I wound up where I did.
BUT WAIT ONE MORE I’M NOT FINISHED
Last but not least, Ally, the chick with the great hair, wardrobe, work ethic and an authenticity that lights up the room. For the youngest employee in the office, she was kicking ass and taking names right out of the gates.
It brings me such a good feeling to look back at these times and these people with complete admiration and not one ounce of resentment. I’ve completed my journey through the 5 stages of grief. Because the truth is, no matter how bad the ending, going into that job on the first day I was beaming with confidence, pride and excitement to have the opportunity to work for all women owned and operated PR agency. Granted I was also petrified because my mind immediately goes to worst-case scenario when I’m about to do something I am not certain I am fit to do.
But it was on brand, I sensed a team culture that I could probably vibe with and it meant not processing tax returns or standing at a copy machine for 20 out of 40 hours per week.
It was a godsend.
To their credit, they were willing to risk it all on me even though I know they weren’t quite sure about me. They had their doubts about me from the get-go. They were certain I had the technical acumen and skills to succeed. But they assessed that I was perhaps lacking the backbone necessary to really kill it as an Inprelian PR Pro. I pleaded my case and was apparently persuasive enough that they went balls to the wall and extended an offer to the great on paper, decent in person but a little too mousy in general candidate (yours truly).
It’s taken a great deal of rationalizing, denying, regretting, sobbing and deep breathing before I arrived at a place of reverence towards my Inprela team members. And it took until now for me to really accept these facts and feelings as truth. But my feelings extend far beyond acceptance now. Acceptance does not always imply liberation (credit Ally).
But in this case, it does. Despite the ungraceful arrival (literally) and departure, I am no longer letting it take a toll on my morale. Never again will I harbor any negative feelings towards time spent as an Assistant Account Executive at Inprela Communications. Because at the end of the day, the Inprela team was doing me a solid. Both when they hired me, and when they fired me.