Lessons I Learned By Getting Fired From Every Job
In the summer of 2020, I got invited to speak to bright, promising high schoolers. They were part of a scholarship program where I was an alum. I thought someone must’ve made a big mistake choosing me to speak about careers. Mine has always been in flux. Strangely adept, I’ve been able to make money writing. That’s seldom meant writing essays or stories for pay (though that does happen). Whatever creative skills I nurture get assigned to solving a company’s menial problem. Then, once the problem’s solved, I get fired, often after months spent wrestling boredom. At the time, I saw no value in speaking to squishy young minds about this tragic cycle. But, at the very least, I could serve as a source of hope: “Don’t be a dummy like I was!” is a worthwhile fable.
If I’d been braver, I would’ve told them about hiring, firing, and the fallacy of labor equaling value.
“Your labor does not equal your value,” I would’ve said.
That seems simple but it’s not. Everyone tells you, as a poor Black being, that the only way to exist is to work. The world seeks to erase you so your loudest shout/your boldest stroke is your work. That belief is so false that sweet pain vibrates my knuckles as I type it. I live under the pretense anyway. The students needed me to see past my own embarrassment and tell them the truth. But I didn’t.
Now, after being fired from my sixth “real job” and pushed out of several others, I’m ready to talk to them. Since most of them asked me about the blog entries here, I thought it might be a good vehicle. On my profile, I’ll write five essays with the lessons I learned from getting bounced from every job I’ve had. This is the first one.
Lesson 1: Your labor doesn’t equal your self-worth.
I once worked for a financial newspaper despite not knowing a lick about finances, personal or other. A young person who did their social media needed to hire someone to do the work she’d moved on from. I had enough experience drafting copy for brands that I could be trained even for the driest NASDAQ-ery bullshit. So that’s what I did. She often condescended to me about my…