Thank You for Firing Me

By Rachel Simmons, Allegheny College ’16

Two weeks into the NYAP experience, and whilst on a lunch break for one of my internships with a painter, I get a phone call from the other artist I am working for. She proceeds to deliver a sugar coated meandering explanation of why she doesn’t think it is going to work out. Stripped down to the nitty gritty, she fired me because I have a back injury that I am recovering from and couldn’t mop and vacuum for her 8 hours a day. Hurt and a little dumbfounded, I accept the news gracefully and we both wish each other the best as she makes it clear that I don’t need to show up for work next week. I immediately call Emilie Clark, the NYAP visual arts coordinator, and recount the whole ordeal trying not to cry as she reassures me that we’ll find another internship.

Three interviews and a week and a half later, I did. I now work for another painter whose studio is a 5-minute walk from the program house. In many ways it is a much better fit than the position I was fired from, and I have come to realize that it was not a loss at all. I didn’t need to be mopping and vacuuming for an entire semester, and the 7 a.m. bus ride to New Jersey wasn’t exactly a perk either.

Assign any cliché you like: “when life gives you lemons” … “one man’s trash” … etc. But the truth is that all you can do is your best. I can’t magically heal my back, I am what I am, and I know that I have a lot to offer. One rejection is not the endpoint of my artistic dream; in fact, I believe it brought me closer to where I want to be.


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