Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The day that changed everything

Day 6: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

This is one of those extreme life-changing events; one that rearranges everything you've ever known and worked for, and leaves you questioning whether you had your life as figured out as you thought you did.

Three and a half years ago (I'm shocked at how long it's been already) I was living in my own studio apartment in Santa Monica, five minutes from where I worked for an interior designer. I'd had my job for almost two years at this point and I thought I was getting pretty good at it (though my boss was actually very creatively stifling. Everything was always the way he wanted it; he never tried to nurture what my strengths were.) It was my first job out of school in high-end residential design, a field which takes more than just two years to learn the ins and outs of.

It was the last Friday of January in 2010, and I was planning on painting my apartment that weekend, which I excitedly told my boss. My boss called me in at 4:30p to meet with him about the projects I was working on, as was our custom. I told him about the projects and then he fired me. Apparently, he'd been diappointed with my work for some time, much to my surprise. (It is my understanding that superiors at work are supposed to give warning when an employee's work is not up to par; something like, if this doesn't improve, we'll have to let you go. No such warning for me.) Such was my surprise that I, of course, started crying. How in the hell was I going to pay my rent?

The worst part was that I didn't have the time to put together a portfolio for future interviews. After firing me, my boss proceeded to follow me to my desk and stand there while I gathered my things like I was a fucking criminal.

It took me a while in my haze of humiliation and rage to come to terms with the fact that I couldn't keep my apartment. It was like everything I'd ever worked for was crumbling to pieces and there was nothing I could do to stop it. In 2010 the design industry was in the middle of an economic recession, much like every other industry. I knew I wouldn't find another job in time to pay my rent, and whether I really wanted to stay in design was the question of the moment. My boss and his snobby clients hadn't done much to booster my opinion of the residential design industry.

I immediately signed up for unemployment, moved back to Oxnard to live with my mom, and spent the next few months in a daze, trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

It turns out that a break was what I really needed. I was on unemployment for over two years and this is what I learned: (1) I really hated residential design and never wanted a job there again (I'll only get into that industry again to design my own house), (2) that I really lost my job because my boss is bad at teaching (that would be putting it nicely), (3) that working a nine-to-five job does not suit me because (4) all I really want to do is write novels.

That one day turned my life upside down and nothing has ever been the same. Much of this is a good thing. I should thank my ex-boss for firing me and taking the pressure off. I did tons of work on a series of novels over those two years on unemployment, but didn't finish it. Until the day comes when I can somehow support myself solely on my writing, I have a great job as a designer in a niche of interior design I never would have even thought to consider, and, go figure, I'm actually pretty damn good at it.


Josephine said...

Though parts are really sad, this post also makes me very happy. Way to go, Amanda! This kind of self-knowledge is so powerful!

Amanda said...

Thanks Jess! It still is kind of sad for me. It's hard to believe I had this totally different life just 3 1/2 years ago. I still miss Santa Monica and plan on moving back at some point. We'll see what happens.

Popular Posts