It has happened to me three times. I’d be called into an office and then I would get the news. “You’re fired.” I’ve been fired from a radio station, a resort, and a church. 

Here are three things I learned.

One: A job is a job; it’s not what makes you who you are. Sometimes I hear people say that your job is your contribution to society. Nothing could be further from the truth. You contribute to society by existing. If you want to do some extras, such as mutual aid and support for other people in your community, that’s great. But your existence is enough. You do not have to be employed to have worth. 

Two: Sometimes it’s not about you. Every employer has a culture flowing from the top down. You can do a very good job at something, but the culture of the workplace can eat you alive. You can even do the same job for two employers, and one will be happy with your work, but the other will fire you for doing the exact same work.

For example, I had a job working as a custodian for a church. It was a very conservative church and I was not a conservative person. I would do my best to clean, but I couldn’t keep the church clean enough for the worshippers who attended the church. 

However, I then got a job as a custodian at a women’s shelter. I worked the same way there as I did at the church, but the people at the shelter were very happy with my performance.

Three: You can always get another job. It may not be the most exciting or glamorous job, but there are other jobs you can do.

The first time I got fired, I was numb and in shock, and it was like my world collapsed. The second time, I was not shocked because I could see it coming. By the third time, I just did not care. 

The overarching lesson of my experience is that defining your worth by your work is just not important and that losing a job sometimes says less about you and more about the place where you worked. Hard work does not always lead to success. I don’t have a fairy tale about how I lost a job and now I own a business and I make six figures a year. The only thing that happened to me is that I lost a job and got another one.