John Picciuto’s Weekly Newsletter of Wrong Advice — Issue #56
In 2020 while the entire world was falling apart, I lost my job.
The single thing I had chosen to identify with most in life, my answer to “what do you do” was now gone.
Who was I anymore?
What was I to do?
The important question I really needed to ask myself was how did I get here?
The pandemic began in March of 2020 and so did my time at a new job. What happened next is one of those wonderful life coincidences that can only happen when you need it most.
I spent the first 6-months of 2020 floundering in a new environment and failing miserably in my new job. In August I was mercifully put out of my misery and let go from a place I never felt like I truly belonged. I had spent 10 years of my life chasing the next job, the next paycheck, the next watch, car, or pair of sneakers and now all of that was gone. I was left with a void I had never experienced before in life.
What is the worst thing that has happened in your life? Often times I consider this firing, or the loss of a friend or loved one. Some of those losses are unavoidable. Death is constant. Being fired amidst a pandemic while avoidable also felt like the most inevitable event in my life.
I had spent the 6-months at this new company failing. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. I was riddled with anxiety and unable to feel like I belonged in a place that I was actually hired to be at. I felt like a fraud, and what’s worse, those fraudulent feelings impacted my work, and my life.
When I got fired it felt like a relief. An absolutely unbelievably weird feeling to experience when your entire world is turned upside down is relief. I had spent so much of my time in that job being the absolute worst of myself. I wasn’t sleeping, I was riddled with anxiety, and I was failing at the basic premise of being a happy or healthy version of myself. But when I finally did get fired I was left with a “what now” moment I was not prepared for.
There was a remarkable thing that happened when I lost my job in August of 2020. I had an amazing opportunity to look in the mirror and ask myself who am I? How often do we get those chances in life? How often are we presented with opportunities to address the things we want in life? So much of my life had been preplanned to that exact moment in time, and when that plan fell apart disastrously I had a moment to ask myself what do I do with myself now.
Shortly after my career imploded I packed my car, loaded up two of my cameras and traveled around the US. In the middle of the pandemic without the benefit of being able to leave the country I decided the best way to find myself was to move into solitude and start doing some work on myself. What happened on that trip of more than 6,600 miles, 100+ rolls of film, and countless experiences I’ll never forget was me being able to find my passion. I had found my purpose.
Photography came to me at a moment in my life that I couldn’t have imagined. When all was lost and I felt the most insecure in my entire life I found something that clicked. For the better part of the last almost 2-years I have been growing and enjoying this journey that I could have never imagined for myself.
I had spent 10-years of my life chasing things that I didn’t know I didn’t want. I spent a decade of my life never once asking myself who I was, or what I wanted out of it. Sometimes when life takes a gigantic shit on your head, it is in some ways an unbelievable blessing. When I spent a bit of time asking myself often times difficult questions I was able to find my path forward. Born out of that disaster has come two things I hold dearly to myself in my photography and my podcast.
My most recent podcast guest Jack Raines is why I’m writing this here today. He has inspired me to start writing again and putting the things I’m going through in life back on paper as I once did. It’s an exciting and scary thing to be vulnerable on the internet but I sure hope you enjoyed this story and come back for more. :)
The Wrong Advice Podcast: Episode 76: Jack Raines on Apple Podcasts — podcasts.apple.com
Jack Raines graduated from Mercer University in December 2019, after playing football and majoring in finance and Spanish. Jack currently lives in Atlanta, GA. Jack started working for UPS in corporate finance in March 2020, and spent two weeks in the office before they went remote due to the pandem…