The ache right smart to engender discharged correctly

I have been a magazine journalist in print and online for more than 20 years. In all that time, I'd never been fired—until recently. I had a job, and then I didn't. Suddenly.

Getting fired sucks. Unless you were playing an elaborate long con—in which case, well done, Mr. Ocean—the first thing that'll happen is a Bout of Crippling Self-Doubt. Maybe you'll watch The NeverEnding Story 18 times in a row, crying while eating cheeseburgers with whoopie-pie buns. Maybe you'll play Destiny tip to tail. Really marinate in it. I did.

You're not going to want to take a hard look at yourself—especially after the whoopieburgers—but you need to. What really happened? Maybe you stopped caring about the job. Or started mentally chasing the next one. (Me.) Or the boss's spouse got slept with. (Not me.) Own it. But don't lie to yourself.

Because you have to figure out how you're going to lie to other people. OK, maybe "lie" is a strong word, but you have to control your story. "The position evolved into something beyond what I was hired for" is not lying, exactly—it's James T. Kirk-ing. It's changing the conditions of the test. It's how to get back in the game.