My Story and How It Can Help Others

Are you going to pass the Test?

Living life and pursuing your career can be challenging, but there are definite times when you will be tested beyond measure. These past four years have been some of the best times of my life, but I was also tested beyond measure on several different occasions. I questioned my value, and who I am as a person, and even questioned if I belonged in this world. It was definitely a tough time for me, but through it all, I am a better person because of it. Here is my story over the past four years.

The Decision that Stung

In March of 2020, I never thought that I would ever get fired from a job that I gave my everything to. I believed because I gave all my blood, sweat, and tears I would be valued and respected, but with new leadership in play, it was not enough, and I was fired from my role. I thought after I got fired that I failed everybody, that I could never get back from this, and that my life was over. That is how much working there meant to me and I thought to myself “What do I do now? Do I stay down, or do I try to find work to bounce back on my feet?” To make matters worse, it was the beginning of COVID times, so many employers were not hiring. I was thinking “How do I explain being fired from a job while also navigating this new world we live in with a pandemic?” I am not sure what it was, but something came over me and I refused to give up on myself as much as my previous employer gave up on me. I realized I am what I am at this point in time. I reached out to my network, and after looking long and hard for months, I finally received a job offer.

Time to Move On

At this new company, I took my time to learn my role, my department, and the organization. As I got comfortable, I started getting more involved with the company, taking part in committees, volunteering for different initiatives, and even mentoring individuals within the organization. As two years went by, I saw a change in the company, I saw the company going in a different direction, and I saw that my values were no longer aligned with the company, so I decided it was time for me to move on. I started looking and applying for jobs, but months into applying what I was trying to avoid happened – I was laid off. I couldn’t believe it again. Years after getting fired from my last job, I got laid off. Again, the questions started to come back like, “Is it me? Why is this happening? Is this going to keep happening to me? Do people not see my value? Am I valuable?”

As much as I questioned myself, I knew I needed to push through this again, so I started reaching out to my network and applying for jobs. As I was applying for jobs, I needed some form of income to survive, so I did Uber Eats, hosted trivia shows, and applied for unemployment. It was not enough, but it was something, as I figured I would only be unemployed for two months. I told myself, “I have a ton of experience, and someone has to give me an opportunity, right??!!” I was unemployed for almost six months. These six months were the longest six months of my life and it got to a point where I wanted to give up because I did not understand why this was happening. Once again, I dug myself out of those feelings and I continued to look for jobs, and Lord behold, that time finally came, and I was given that opportunity that I thought would never come.

Why Now

After being laid off and finally getting back on my feet, I was finding a groove with my new role. I was working for an organization that I always wanted to work for. Now that I was here, I felt like a kid in a candy store. I saw all this opportunity and felt grateful beyond measure. I started to get in a groove and then suddenly my world was shaken. I was admitted to the hospital and after spending two nights in the hospital, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was told that my aortic valve was not working properly. Based on this news, I was also informed that I would eventually have to get surgery to replace my valve. I was thinking “Why now, I have only been in this role for a few months? What happened? I have to have heart surgery? How do I process this? Will I lose my job because of this? Will this hold me back?”

I asked myself so many questions as I was trying to process everything in such a short amount of time. I finally sat down one night to really think everything through. I came to the realization that if I am not okay, then I will not be able to be effective in my work. So, with the support of my family, friends, and even my coworkers, I made the decision to go through with the surgery. It was a daunting recovery, but I feel better and stronger than I have felt in a while and now, I can focus on really making my impact in my position.

I hope my story resonated with you as a reader. Below are some key takeaways I would like for you to leave with:

  • You are Not Alone: When you question yourself and your value, know that you are not alone in your feelings. As humans, we are our own worst critic, and we tend to get in our own way too much. Know that your feelings are valid, recognize your feelings, and process what you are going to do to overcome those feelings.
  • Remember Your Why: Don’t ask the who, where, when, or how, ask the why. What is your why? What is driving you to be in the career you chose? What is your why to push you to great heights?  What is your why that is pushing you to be successful? What is your why that fills your passion? That is what you should be asking yourself to remind you of why you are doing what you are doing.
  • No Matter what, Stay Resilient:  No matter what happens, no matter how difficult life gets, never give up. You will be surprised by how resilient you are, but you can never know unless you are tested. It can be a lot to deal with it, it can be very daunting, the timing sometimes can be very unreasonable, and sometimes just not fair. There is no instruction manual for life, so when you get hit with unexpected events, your resiliency will separate you from the others and will allow you to shine in the light you deserve.
  • Narrate Your Story:  You have one life to live, so live it. Do not allow others to narrate your story and dictate your value or what type of person you should be. Stay authentic, treat everyone with love and kindness, and live your life to the fullest.

So, are you going to pass the test?

Career Insights from the CCPD
By Edson O'Neale
Edson O'Neale Student Employment/JLD Coordinator