Monday morning, May 2009. I spent 2 weeks in Italy after turning 22 and was back in the office for the first time, catching up on boatloads of email.
“Hey Steve, can you come into my office for a second.”
“Actually.. close the door behind you.”
Close the door! Man! Must be time for that raise- I'd been waiting! All of those 70 hour weeks. Weekends and Holidays. It's all about to pay off now. I had my eye one of those crazy expensive electric toothbrushes.
“So, this is going to be tough, but…”
I stopped listening. My next memory is driving home from work at 11AM, screaming. Everyone else got let go, except one guy- our worst programmer*. No matter how good you are, how much effort you put in, everyone eventually gets cut from the team.
My entire LIFE was my job. I was so proud of it. My title! And I worked my ass off. How could they do this to me? It defined me. It was me.
The first thing I did when I got home was order that $170 electric toothbrush on Amazon. Even though I was broke. Jobless. It didn't matter, because I took the power back- I gave myself a raise.
My self-worth was my job
My self-esteem was wrecked. I didn't do much beside sleep for days. Let's be honest, people lose their jobs everyday! It's a pretty common thing. So, why did it suck so much?
Why should ANYONE besides ME have complete control over my self-esteem, my happiness? It's stupid. And it's a mistake of convenience. It's so much easier to give away your power, tie your worth to some external thing, instead of creating it within. Laziness. I was too lazy to take control of my own happiness, to make it myself.
Stop giving your power away. It's for you. Not for your job. Not for your girlfriend. Not for anyone, besides you.
I've seen friends make the same mistake. Lose their jobs. Laid off. And they struggle for months. Not because of money, it's deeper than that- because their self-esteem got hit by a train.
Looking back? I wish I got fired sooner.
The lesson was worth the pain. The good ones always are.
*We ran a LAMP stack. He wanted to rewrite Memcache in C# because it “wasn't fast enough”.