On October 30, I lost my job.
I was hired about 8 months earlier, overjoyed by my good luck in finally nailing down a day job that didn’t require a uniform, nights and weekends, or close-toed shoes. Working at a bank had never really been a goal, per se, but it was the perfect place for me while I had the podcast going on practically every evening. I told everyone who would listen how much I loved my job, and my bosses all liked me and told me they would offer me a promotion as soon as there was a position available.
Then I made a foolish mistake and posted something to Facebook that I should not have. When my boss fired me, both she and my supervisor were crying. They liked me, but their hands were tied; policy was incontrovertible, and in my carelessness I’d left them no choice.
I have spent most of my time on social media and the podcast trying to be positive. I received a ton of support from my listeners, both financially and via encouragement or advice, and I wanted so badly to stay afloat that I buried myself in work towards improving my site and subscription services. I spun the bad news, trying to emphasize that I would make use of the time I had now and that I wasn’t giving up. Focus on the silver lining, everything happens for a reason, when one door closes, have faith…
Now I’m going to use this space to talk about the part I’ve mostly ignored. The uglier part that doesn’t line up with inspirational quotes everyone insists on posting all over Facebook.
I’m so angry with myself I feel sick. Some people have tried to suggest that this whole thing was unfair, and that I shouldn’t have been fired; I disagree. It was absolutely my fault and I knew better and did something stupid without thinking it through, an all-too-frequent occurrence. I often watch other people’s hesitancey to take risks in their lives and marvel at how willing they are to settle rather than hazard any sort of failure, but the truth is that I’m not necessarily braver; I’m just more reckless. I have a childish sort of faith that with the right words, whatever I break can be fixed afterwards. As I get older and the stakes get higher, however, I’m learning that some things can simply never be fixed.
Being broke costs more. Now, without my day job and the podcast alone, I will be making about $680 a month once fees are taken out by my subscription service. AND GUESS WHAT. That income is too low to qualify for the break on insurance I was getting via Obamacare, and too high to qualify for Medicaid. Which means I have no insurance, which means I’m now paying $140 a month for medications that had been costing me $20, my doctor’s visits will all have to be out of pocket, and if there’s an emergency I will be utterly and completely fucked.
I’m so tired of starting over. Reinvention doesn’t come with a feeling of excitement now that my life has finally taken a more distinct shape. When I was younger, restarting felt like wiping a white-board clean: a fresh, clean beginning stretching invitingly out in front of me. Now that I’m older and have a more solid idea of what I want and have been trying to work towards that, starting over feels like breaking a plate, losing some of the pieces, and trying to fashion a new one by combining the pieces I have with fresh clay. It’s awkward, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t look right, and there are weak points all over it when I’m finished.
I have no idea how to run a business, and I’m terrified. If I’m going to be trying to live my life off the podcast full-time, I need to be tracking expenses and making sure that I don’t fuck up when I file my taxes and make claims. I need to be sure I’m putting money away to cover those taxes, figure out whether donations are taxed the same as regular income, track down the data from six different sales services, and generally be way more on top of things than I have been. Finding information that’s relevant to my off-beat business has been super difficult and frustrating.
I’m afraid to admit I’m pissed off and scared. So many well-meaning people have been saying things like, “Maybe this is a turning point for you,” “Maybe this is just what you needed to get going,” “One day you’ll probably look back and see that it was for the best,” etc. And maybe all of that is true, but it makes me feel like I am not allowed to freak out right now, which isn’t fair. I’m sure that people don’t mean it to be taken that way and they’re just trying to be encouraging, but I can’t help feeling like someone who says that to me isn’t really going to be willing to listen without attempting to cheer me up the whole time, which is frankly just irritating. Sometimes I just want to be upset and get through that emotion without attempting to curb, crush, or prevent it. I lost one of the best jobs I’ve ever had due to my own stupidity, I’m going to be making less money that any other job I’ve had for a long time before I reach a point where it’s a livable wage, and it’s perfectly reasonable to be COMPLETELY FLIPPED OUT by that.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I am concerned that because everyone has been so amazingly supportive and kind and generous, if I admit I’m worried it will come across as me saying, “People aren’t doing enough to help me”. I am truly grateful to all of the people who are helping me out, from the listeners who’ve donated or pledged, to my boyfriend who is letting me take this time to attempt to expand. But it puts me in a position where I feel like I can’t voice my concerns about being broke or failing without seeming like an ungrateful brat.
I have lost some of my faith. Enough has happened in the past three years that when well-meaning folks say things like, “It will all work out” and “Things will improve soon”, I just want to scream “WHEN?????” I am trying to take personal responsibility and not be a victim, I truly am…but there are times when I just feel beaten. There are moments when I suddenly realize that things just aren’t necessarily destined to work out in the end…and that’s a lonely, frightening feeling.
Now that I’ve whined for a while, I’m going to close this post by saying that I am not giving up and I’m not going to stop working. But being positive all the time is just flat-out dishonest. I feel like so many memes and quotes out there imply that unless you “look at the bright side” and force a smile onto your face, you’re somehow inviting more pain into your life and only have yourself to blame when you feel terrible. It’s horse-shit: you are a person, and you will be sad and angry and frustrated. Sometimes you will despair and truly, deeply, in your heart of hearts, want to give up. You will believe that people might be better off without you in their lives.
Ride it out. It will pass, and feeling this way doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you unworthy. It makes you human. As awesome and beautiful as life can be sometimes, the darkness and shadows cannot and should not be obliterated. Without the shadows, how can you see where the light is coming from?