The Third Moment of Impact

Sometimes what we need to see the most is too close to recognize. The beauty about this series, about facing my moments of impact, is just that - facing them. Taking a step back and doing something that is so cathartic for me, to realize a little beauty in the broken.

This moment of impact was one that hit me like a brick wall with a huge sign on it saying “WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?” And albeit quick, it was the one that felt like it dragged on forever, hurting more and more with every second that passed by. It also was the one that taught me the biggest lesson; that I don’t know it all. A tough lesson to learn.

For the better half of the day, my heart felt like it had expanded to take up my entire chest cavity. My hands couldn’t keep themselves busy enough and my mind was racing with what I would say, jotting down key points to cover and my goals for the upcoming year. An hour before my yearly review, I had an overwhelming feeling that something was wrong. I couldn’t explain it, but I chalked it up to nerves and kept myself busy. When it was time, I got up with a notebook full of accomplishments and goals and walked to the meeting room. Almost walking past it because there were two people, and I was expecting one, I realized it would not be the yearly review I was expecting.

My neck is getting warm writing about this, my heart is hurting, and my palms are starting to sweat. Yes, getting fired from your first job sucks… for lack of better words. At first I dwelled on all the generic reasons my poised firing manager delivered with written response quality. I kept telling my parents, my friends, and myself that it wasn’t my fault – my position was simply eliminated, there was nothing I could do.

There was though. I just didn’t want to admit I had failed. I fucked up.

I don’t think I fully came to terms with this acceptance of failure until recently, and perhaps that’s why it’s taken me so long to write this last moment of impact. There are a lot of things I could have done better and with every new experience in my current position, I’m realizing where I went wrong in the past. Sadly, it’s all part of learning who you are in the workplace, what kind of communicator you are, what your long-term goals are and how that affects your drive. With my first job, I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know that I don’t do well at communicating my to-do list to my managers and peers, so I need to be proactive about sharing my projects and asking for feedback. I knew I was a natural leader, but I didn’t know how to polish that drive so that it doesn’t come across as overstepping boundaries. I didn’t know how to analyze the effect of my work and present it so that it illustrated my contribution in terms that mattered to my company.

With the classic statement – I wish I knew then, what I know now – I also realize that I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot to learn, and a couple years from now, I’ll still be wishing that same thing. In cyclic nature though, the fact that I acknowledge this is something I didn’t quite grasp before, so admitting that I don’t know it all is paramount if I’m going to keep growing in my career.

Reflecting on this has been a challenge. It’s taken a lot of gut and grit to come to terms with a failure as big as this one. I think it will always hurt my heart but that pain is good, it will continue to fuel me, and one day when I’m a leader in my industry; it will help another young college graduate not make the same mistakes.

I may not have scooters or free manicures anymore. I have to buy my own smoothies and the only cool thing about my office is that my pup can come to work with me every day. But I do have a boss that is an amazing mentor, I have the best relationships with my very small team, our office is filled with laughter every day, and I never feel like I am inadequate. I’m challenged and I work hard daily, but my identity is no longer in the company that employs me.

I’m learning a lot about what it takes to be the kind of leader I want to be and also learning what it’s like to work in a competitive agency setting where you’re vying for a client’s attention amongst twelve other agencies. I’m continuing to define my communication style and learn how that affects my coworkers and how I report to my boss. I’m also exploring other passions and figuring out where those could lead, because I know in ten years I don’t want to be creating influencer campaigns; although it’s fun and I enjoy it now, I’ve learned it’s not my forever gig.

My third moment of impact was heavy. I’m still recuperating, and constantly looking back on it to help better come to terms with what happened. In hindsight, it might have been the best thing to ever happen to me. It taught me a lot about strength, and how in one second you can be thrown into an incredibly terrifying situation such as unemployment. I am so much stronger than I think, and the next time I face unemployment, which I’m sure will come again because that’s life, I’ll be better prepared.