Power of rock bottom Quotable Magazine

Life & Work, Quotable Magazine

The Power of Hitting Rock Bottom

It’s 2pm on a Monday, April 2020. I’m sitting on a Zoom call, and I’m being fired.

Maybe, in and of itself, getting fired isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a person, but, in my case, this was just the last in a long line of blows. It was official; I had hit bottom.

The last 12 months had played like the blooper reel of my life. Anything that could go wrong, did.
I had moved 500 miles for a job that made me miserable. I sold my 2400 square foot townhouse to live in a 900 square foot apartment – perfect for COVID quarantine. My husband and I were apart from one another for 6 months while he looked for a job. I had a cancer scare which required me to get a full surgical hysterectomy the week before Christmas. My husband lost his job. (Yes, the one he had just gotten.) COVID had us on lockdown. And now this.

To be honest, the first thing I did was panic. I had just turned 50, and I spent a lifetime building my career to avoid this exact situation. Now what?

The irony is that I originally took this job believing that it was the safe choice. Rather than start my own business, I decided to take another corporate job. I believed it was the more responsible decision to make. Apparently, the joke was on me.

“When the ultimate crisis comes… when there is no way out — that is the very moment when we explode from within and the totally other emerges: the sudden surfacing of a strength, a security of unknown origin, welling up from beyond reason, rational expectation, and hope.” — Émile Durkheim

After the initial shock wore off, something unexpected and magical happened. A wave of relief passed over me. I felt a freedom I had never felt before. All the things I had feared most had happened and, you know what? I was still here. I had survived.

There is something empowering in that. There is power in hitting bottom but remaining strong. There is power knowing that you have nothing left to lose and everything to gain. In that moment, a world of possibilities opened to me, and I was finally free to redesign my life the way I wanted. I was no longer trapped in a story that someone else was writing. It was time for me to take back the pen.

“Sometimes it takes being left seemingly with nothing to realize that you are everything. To see that you held the key to your own happiness and self-worth and belonging and wholeness all along.” — Mandy Hale

In hindsight, I understand why things had to happen the way that they did. I realize now that I needed to be pushed to the point of breaking to finally bet on myself. When the time came to either choose them or to choose me, I finally chose me.

In the eighteen months since I started my new job, I had been undermined, disrespected, and disregarded. Their harsh words began to take a toll on me, and I began to doubt myself. Instead of remembering how successful I’d been prior to this job, I started to believe the worst. Maybe I was terrible at my job.

It took a particularly hurtful exchange for me to finally snap out of it. It wasn’t me. It was them. You don’t go from being at the top of your game your whole life to suddenly being stupid. It was the final straw. It was time to bet on myself.

“When you hit rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up” – Pattie Mallette

Once I took my control back, I decided I would no longer play it safe. I mean, look where it got me. I was going to stop living in fear.

The first thing I did was dare to imagine what my ideal life would look like. I knew that it would include starting the business I had dreamed about a couple of years prior. I wondered what the worst thing would be that could happen. I guess I could fail, but wasn’t I failing by not trying? As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I was already zero for zero.

I decided to go for it. I began to build my company, GoodRobe & Co., which launched a year and a half ago. Looking back, I can’t imagine how much I would’ve missed by not making my dream a reality. In that time, I’ve grown so very much and connected with some of the most amazing people. All because I decided to bet on myself.

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life” – J.K. Rowling

I see now that failure isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s complacency. It’s when things aren’t quite bad enough for you to make a change but you’re still not thriving. How do you risk the devil you know for the one that you don’t? Well, it’s not an easy thing to do.

That is why I’ve learned to embrace rejection. For me, rejection is just redirection. It’s a guide to a better opportunity and a shot to truly shine. Pay attention to these cues because, as it turns out, rock bottom can simply be a jumping off point to your greatest success. Your best is yet to come.

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JENNIFER CASSARA has spent 30+ years in the fashion industry as a buyer, planner, and creative director. She is a serial entrepreneur with eight years as the owner and creator of Bella & Bella’s Closet boutiques in Hingham, Newton, and Belmont. Jennifer is now the founder of a DTC women’s apparel company called GoodRobe & Co. She is an experienced writer, speaker, and consultant.

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