So you lost your job—and you weren’t exactly laid off. Maybe budget cutbacks were involved somehow, but deep down, you know the truth: Lots of people in the company are still in their chairs, and you aren’t one of them. And maybe there’s no ambiguity about your situation at all. Some firings are firings, plain and simple. The phrase “get the heck outta here” isn’t usually tossed out in the event of a “cutback.”
In any case, it’s time for you to go. And as you walk out the door, here’s one thing you’ll immediately learn about the path ahead: getting fired sucks. In the initial aftermath, everything from your career to your financial security to your friendships seems threatened.
But getting fired is an important life lesson. Overcoming job loss will teach you lessons that other people simply won’t get the chance to learn. Once the initial shock of being fired wears off, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Here are the five highlights of losing your job:
1. Firings are for bad-assess only
Are you a mouse? Are you a nervous, obedient little handwringer who lives to please and trembles in the face of disapproval? Maybe you were once…but not anymore.
Welcome to a new kind of club. You’re now among those who speak their minds, who get things wrong, who make mistakes, who fight back, who try, fail and try again, and who wear dark sunglasses and rev their motorcycles really loud. Even if you step back into the corporate world at some point, you still get to keep your membership card. Hold onto that card—it may help you. And you’ve earned it.
2. Firings break the walls that hold us in
After you’ve been fired, you’ll no longer fear being fired in the future. And this fear is one of the major obstacles that prevents people from accomplishing the things they really want to accomplish. Once you’re over the first few rough days, prepare to view the world in a broader and more flexible way.
3. Firings demonstrate that you’re growing, learning and alive
Interviewers like to see signs of growth and energy, so they often ask candidates to describe their mistakes and what they’ve learned from them. Then they yawn and roll their eyes while Mousy Miltons (see item 1) launch into rambling stories about the time they almost got a B-minus (oh, the terror!) in English 201.
You, on the other hand, have a real story. Tell it, and bring the house down.
4. Firings help you understand people
Losing your job—or any gloomy experience, really—can teach you what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a sucky experience. This knowledge can take your mind, your relationships, your life and your career to new heights. Empathy is a valuable trait and skill, and it’s easier to understand what others are going through when your own range of experience is wide and deep.
5. Firings are by no means a deal-breaker in most careers
Some of the best and boldest minds in every field have been fired at least once or twice. Why? Because of items 1 through 4. And because those who tend to get fired typically have some passion and recklessness in their bellies to begin with.
Now that you’re back on the market, it’s time for the next step: Channel this messy energy—the brilliant, white-hot star that is yourself—into a job that actually lines up with your skills, personality and true ambitions.
Jenny Treanor is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on LiveCareer, home of America’s #1 Resume Builder.