I’m afraid of being fired

By James Rampton.

Being afraid of being fired comes down to the simple idea of no longer being needed. Whether its because of skill or personality it doesn't matter. I am flat out scared of being fired.

In school I was never the smartest student nor a good athlete. I used my job as my escape. I struggled with some physical and mental disabilities early on in my life and drank a daily cocktail of Dyslexia and ADHD. Do you remember that corny Batman quote about why you fall down? Well lets just say I had to learn and relearn how to get back up. I still remember the name of my special ed teacher...Ms. Brenda.

While in school I also worked, not because I needed the money, but because I was good at it. My coordination was terrible so sports and even video games were hard. Most summers in High School I would work just because I could and throughout my 20s I always had a side gig. I even met my wife at one of these jobs.

Quick side note....While writing this I am realizing that part of the reason why I get anxious about losing my job may be due to the fact that deep down I think it is the only thing I am good at.

When I started my career in UX i was a contractor for a local ad agency and i hated not knowing my future. As a contractor your goal is to get hired on full-time. Since your time is restricted to a year or 6 months it gets stressful when you are getting closer to that date and you don't know whether or not you are going to have a job. For me it was agony. I remember coming in every weekend just to make my wireframes look better. The job was done, but I couldn't leave any excuse to be let go. I moved on after 10 months because I couldn't handle not knowing.

This past week was difficult. I started a new job about a month ago and my boss gave me some pretty critical feedback. Not about my designs, but about how I worked with others. It was a first for me. I was terrified. Up to this point in my career I prided myself on how I worked with others. She did it in a way that seemed casual and yet professional. She was firm and to the point. I respected that, but I couldn't help but think that she was about to fire me. She gave me a few specifics and asked that I worked on it and quickly moved on to discussions about designs. Looking back on it this was simply my boss doing her job well...she heard something and felt that I could handle it. I took and deep breath and made myself more aware of how I interact with others. I am still a nervous wreck and had to have a glass a wine and give myself a quick Netflix binge (yes that is a oxymoron), but I am alive.

That look you get when someone doubts you is something that wakes me up at night. During design reviews my heart starts raising and when someone gives you honest feedback and you know they are right is something that I struggle width. I am immediately assume the worst. I over think it.

At this point I was hoping to have told you a story that ended with a solution, but I got nothing. I'll be honest wine and therapy help, but this is one of those WIP stories. I wish you luck dealing with your fears and hopefully you deal with this one better than I do. In the meantime I encourage you to write them out. I may not have a solution, but sharing my story helps me take a deep breath. Isn't that worth something?


Jim is a Product Designer and moonlights as a UX Architect in his free time. He occasionally speaks at local UX meetups, but you can usually find him in a comic book store. He has two Master degrees and lives with his wife and furry child in Ann Arbor, MI where he loves his expensive sandwiches and really good coffee. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Instagram.

Read all