I can vividly remember the day that marked the beginning of the end of my first job.
I was fresh out of college, teaching full-time for the first time, when I got a new student in my classroom.
I was in the middle of giving an English lesson. As my students were all standing and reciting a chant I taught them, my door opened and a little boy entered the room. I quickly walked over and ushered him inside, introducing myself and welcoming him into the classroom.
The little boy glared back at me and defiantly hid his arms behind his back. He growled at the kids who gushed smiles in his direction, and refused to join the rest of the group.
Within a week, he had thrown more tantrums than I ever thought possible for an 8-year-old. He ran from my classroom, threw obstacles at other students, cursed me out -- the list goes on.
I consistently found myself standing over this student, in a corner, unable to control his tyrannical outbursts. During these times, creeping thoughts would rise to the surface. "You're going to get fired," they would tell me.
Sure enough, my contract wasn't renewed for the following year.
I was devastated. I spent four years of college learning how to be a teacher and I couldn't even make it past my first year.
I came up with a thousand excuses as to why it wasn't my fault: I had no support from faculty, maybe the child was undiagnosed bipolar, I had no idea how to handle a situation like it. But at the end of the day, I was fired. Let go. Not coming back.
I let myself feel the shock of it all for a few days, but then I decided it was time to take action. I knew things needed to change.
The next thing I knew my husband and I were packing up our house and our puppy, and moving from the sunshine state of Florida to North Carolina.
Three days before we moved, I got a call that I had been accepted to teach at a school in North Carolina. I was ecstatic. They even offered me a higher salary than the one I was given in Florida.
Having now been in a new state for six months, I realize getting fired from my first job was the best thing to ever happen to me.
I learned how to handle dealing with losing a job (which could happen again), I learned how to pick myself up and get back on track and I now know what is required of me at my new -- and any -- job. I have a stable career and I'm thankful for that.
My co-workers help me, the faculty backs up my classroom discipline plan and I feel happy at work. Not just woke-up-on-the-right-side-of-the-bed type of happy, but genuinely joyful and content.
One of the greatest things about getting fired was having a fresh start somewhere new. I found new friends, started going to a new church, joined a support group with other teachers and have even grown more in love with my husband (even though I didn't think it was possible).
When I first got fired I called my mom in tears, "I'm only 22 and my life is already over. No one will want to hire me, my career is ruined."
My mom reassured me none of what I was thinking was true, and she constantly told me everything happens for a reason.
Looking back now, I have to admit she was right.
A year ago I was sitting in an old classroom, sneaking in sanity breaks any time I had the chance. I was constantly stressed out and besides my husband I had no real friends to talk to about it.
Now, I come home happy, I cook dinner and I even go mountain biking. I make time to do the things I want to accomplish. The me from last year was too wrapped up in her job to accomplish anything for herself.
If you've been fired, laid off or had a contract not renewed, I promise you it's not the end of the world.
It might be tough for a little while, you might even cry or beat yourself up a bit, but keep your head up. You're not a failure. The best is yet to come. Always remember the end of something isn't actually an ending, it's the means to a new beginning.