Fun, Fearless and….Fired?

woman at laptop, how to survive being fired

There’s a restaurant in Lakewood, Ohio called Angelo’s. Odds are if you live in Cleveland you already know it’s the best damn pizza in The Land. I’ve looked at their menu many times and the story of the owner (whose name is surprisingly Tom) has always stuck out to me. He shares the history of the restaurant and how his father-in-law said to him once,

”Wow, you’re an overnight success’ and the owner’s response was ‘Yea, it only took 20 years…'”

When I was 22 I interviewed with a company in Arizona and got the job. They even offered to pay for my moving expenses. I was bartending, literally living in my parents basement and still considered Ramen a food group. I wasn’t particularly driven to do much of anything except hang out with my friends. So when this company said here’s $2,000 smackers, and we’ll see you in a month – I said OK! 

I packed up my 1998 Volkswagon Beetle with everything I owned and headed west like the lyrics of Dixie Chicks song. The second I left my parents’ driveway I knew it was a mistake. But I didn’t care. I wanted adventure, I wanted to see stuff, I wanted a change and I wanted to have fun!

Fast forward four months and I’m sitting across from some well-coiffed bro telling me that the company “no longer sees potential in me.” Seriously, OUCH. Okay, in his defense this guy was probably three months older than me and had a wee bit of a leg ahead at this start-up but nonetheless, ouch. Oh, and it was the day of the Christmas party so naturally I was wearing my finest ugly Christmas sweater – so I was fired in a sequin Santa vest!

I moved 2,000 miles away from home, I had no money, no job (…my pets heads were fallin’ off)*. I felt alone and unworthy. I had student loans to pay. I mean, if this company saw no potential in me then how could I even add value anywhere else? I was a loser, right? I was stuck in the suck.

So I did what any self-respecting 22 year old would do. I went and bought a $5 bottle of wine, smoked a bunch of cigarettes and got drunk by myself on my couch. I called my Dad and he said,

“Vick, you only get to be sad for one day and after that day you have to make a plan.”

So I did. I soon got another job and I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but I got to travel and had the best coworkers. I learned so much about business and how to operate in the corporate world. I’ve actually stayed at that job for a little over seven years, which has come with it’s own ups and downs. If you read my previous blog, Just Jump, you’ll know that I’ve had some recent recognition for my work, but it didn’t happen right away.

In my lifetime, I’ve been rejected by American Idol producers (not once, but twice), I’ve failed more than I can even count and I have been told ‘”o” by more people than I care to admit. I even asked a guy to senior prom (very feminist of me, I know) via handwritten note and was totally shot down.

My point here is that looking back, getting fired was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me because it showed me who I am. After that, the universe conspired with me get me to the place I am today. A place where I can share my story and say to you that there is always something on the other side of pain and tragedy. There’s a kind of grit and will to do great things, if you let yourself. I think before that happens you have to let the past be the past. Now, I know I’ll always fail at some things, but I’ll always be succeeding where it matters most.

How many pizzas do you think Tom from Angelo’s had to burn to make the greatest pizza ever? How many times did people tell him that there are a million pizza shops all over the city and there wasn’t room for one more? I bet A LOT!

You’ve already survived and overcome so much in your own life and the fact that you’re reading this now means you lived to tell your story! So pat yourself on the back, girlfriend because you’re survivin’ and thrivin’!

If you’ve recently gone through something traumatic like a break up or a lay off or any kind of life change – really believe that all is meant to be and let life do the rest because magic tends to appear when you least expect it. 😉

*no pets were harmed in the writing of this blog

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Vicki Kotris

Vicki is a Cleveland native, cupcake enthusiast and self-proclaimed karaoke rockstar who survives on Starbucks and sprinkles. Saleslady by day and doting dog mom by night. Ambitions include meeting Oprah, seeing the Indians win the World Series and finishing all 100 things on the Cleveland Scene Bucket List. Follow her at

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