Sunday, February 21, 2016


There is an odd camaraderie among those who have failed.

I’ve been finding this out recently (which is the reason for the paucity of recent posts).

I used to be fairly insouciant about the prospect of getting fired. Then I got fired, and I suddenly had a lot more sympathy for people who seemed to be quite upset for a period afterwards. Like so many misfortunes in life, it’s easy to be glib about it until it happens to you. But when it does, you remember it.

Life does indeed go on, and I’m in a good position employment-wise. I initially decided that stoicism was the way forward, and asserted (part aspirationally) that everything was fine. ‘Whine less’ was already the motto of 2016, inspired by Epictetus's 'Discourses'. I stand by that motto, incidentally. But after a few days of hassling around emailing people and getting a good mix of polite but awkward refusals (along with some interest), I finally was a bit down. Now I’m actually getting towards the point I claimed to be at initially.

In the process of emailing work friends about the prospect of getting a job, when I explained the circumstances of my departure I got a surprising number of quite heartfelt responses. When I went through the list of who wrote back like this, I realised that a lot of them had gone through the same thing at one point. ‘I know how it feels’, one wrote. He wasn’t lying.

The last time I remember this happening was years ago when I was about 20, and working at my Dad’s office. There was an early 30’s guy there whom I got along with well, and looked up to in the way of young men who engage on somewhat jovial mockery and discussion. On a Saturday afternoon, when I was leaving the office, I told him that I was off to break up with my girlfriend. I expected him to make a joke, or some sort of bonhomie about the prospective fun of being single again. But his response was nothing of the sort. ‘That sucks man, I’m really sorry’, was his reply. Having not had a serious breakup before then, I found it a little unexpected, but didn’t think too much of it. 3 hours of break-up conversation later, I understood the kindness of his response a lot more.

The whole recent experience has made me want to be kinder to the people around me.

I think that’s a good addition to the 2016 motto as well, actually.

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