On February 2nd, 2016, I was fired for the first time in my life.
Just like that.
As I sat in my car, parked on the street corner in front of the company, with all my shit from my office scattered on the passenger seat, I thought, “I’m no longer Larissa: Senior Coordinator of Business Intelligence at Coca-Cola; I’m just Larissa, unemployed.”
I got home and put my things away, lay down on my bed and thought about how it felt to be fired. And the only thing that went through my head was my title: Coordinator of Business Intelligence. I had lost it.
Titleless, I would no longer sound important when people asked me what I did. It was no longer the highlight of my Linkedin profile. No longer my e-mail signature.
That’s what I had become. Someone who was attached to a silly title.
Throughout the following (consistently unemployed) year, this matter of having a title kept coming back to me. Why did it matter so much? Titles don’t define you. They’re not who you are. They’re temporary. As soon as you leave the job, company, post or whatever, you cease to have that title.
Not only do titles give the distorted impression of you as being important; they make you sound like an authority, an expert, a leader and master of sorts without needing to have any actual credentials.
I certainly didn’t feel like an expert in business intelligence; I was still learning. I was a beginner; far from being an expert. Come to think about it, I have always been an apprentice. Every job I ever had was completely different from the one before. So, every time I started a new one, I had to learn the ABCs of whatever the hell it was that I had to do. Throughout these jobs, my titles should all have been the same: Larissa, Senior Apprentice of All Things Related to Current Job Status.
Calling myself “Senior Coordinator of Business Intelligence” was a bit of a lie. I realized that the title wasn’t actually earned. It was just handed to me for some period of time. It was a loan. When the time came, it was taken away from me and given to somebody else.
So I decided that I wouldn’t let titles define me anymore. I wouldn’t let the have any effect on how I perceived myself. To hell with titles.
Throughout the following months, after analyzing my life even a bit further, I realized that I actually had quite a few titles. But these were earned, given for life. They represent who I am and what I really stand for. They tell others much more about myself than a silly temporary job description. They show my personality, my attitudes, my accomplishments, and my goals.
I’m Larissa, badass mom.
Larissa, struggling artist.
Larissa, eternal student and learner.
Larissa, novice writer and poet.
Larissa, advertiser (not so proud of this one, but nevertheless).
Larissa, trusting friend.
Larissa, awesome granddaughter, daughter and sister.
Larissa, patient listener.
Larissa, amateur musician.
Larissa, avid reader.
Larissa, compulsive thinker.
No one can take those titles away from me.
I’m senior master badass of my own life.
Take that, Mr. Middle Manager.