Income & Self-Esteem (My lay off)

My Secret Notebook
2 min readApr 4, 2024

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When I was let go yesterday from one of three jobs I had, I knew in my mind that it was a relief. But I still physically and emotionally went through a diluted version of grief and shock. I was still feeling down about it.

Some background: I had started working 3 jobs a year ago, and it was great money. But it started getting very stressful.

Including rental income, I was probably clearing $430–450K per year before taxes if I were to work a full year in all 3.

I was on a high horse and ready to give it all up for more freedom as I saved “enough” to be financially independent, at least it would be a very frugal life, but it was doable.

But I’m realizing how actually getting let go affected me negatively:

  1. Being “worth less” now. Before, I was getting away with an executive level salary, and I was on top of the world. I felt “better” than 99% of the population and kept looking at income percentiles. It felt fucking great. But I didn’t ever say it or brag. It was just in my mind. But now that my combined salary is $270K, which is still awesome, it feels like I’m just a Director level salary. It’s great, but not Chief Executive mind-blowing.
  2. It was a hit on my ego/pride (competency). Besides the ego hit from being worth less, it also felt like I was perhaps looked down on or seen as incompetent, and therefore something was done to get rid of me. Honestly, it doesn’t matter at all and this was the ideal outcome for 2 big reasons: less stress and sizeable severance. But, it’s hard to shake off the feeling of rejection and loss even when it is logically a win-win.
  3. I didn’t have control. Even with the amazing 6 weeks of severance, it didn’t feel right because I didn’t feel in control. It came sooner than I expected. Even thought I often said, “just fucking fire me then” in my room to the air, I didn’t realize I would feel so shaken by not being in control.
  4. It lengthened by retirement age. After updating my income assumptions in my FIRE model, it added a few years to the timeline. I had been fantasizing of retiring before 40, but for a leaner retirement with 2 kids, that won’t be possible until 41.5. That’s still great, but it just “feels bad” to see the number go up without any ability to change it. Actually, I could look for another job, but I already know I am happier with this outcome. There’s just some feels.

So I’m letting myself feel the feels, but I think it’s worth it to document my reflections too, especially since my reaction was unexpected.

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My Secret Notebook

Quirky, curious, and philosophical Asian American gay Ivy League grad living in Southern California.