Three hours ago I left my job for the last time.
I’ve been looking to go for a while but in that half serious sort of complacent way most people do. I’d been there almost eight years and up until recently I thought I was happy. I figured that collecting a check, having some flexibility in schedule and getting to go home and complain about the same stuff everyone else complains about meant I made it.
But I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t been happy for a very long time actually.
My job was no different from a past relationship I’d been in where I stuck it out despite the misery because I believed something good would come from the endurance test. Every day I became more sour. Every day I stood still while those around me heaped their disloyalty and dishonest my way. Every day I blinded myself to the inequalities that played out and ignored the lack of opportunity there. I danced like an idiot fool toward an eventual pay cap without ever giving it a serious thought. I came to hate two of my co-workers when I prided myself on being the sort of person that never actually hated anyone.
But then I opened my eyes.
The problem was me. My situation was similar to sitting in a lion’s den, enjoying the free food and complaining about the giant cats that are trying to eat me when I can just leave anytime I want. You can’t change the beast, you can’t survive the beast. You just leave it locked in its own cage and you move on.
(“So, my review says I’m arrogant but only as it applies to my treatment of the person you know is operating deceptively in her department and actively trying to sabotage me? I mean, i guess that’s true? I… guess? Wait… huh? Oh never mind. Just pass me some tasty free zebra meat.”)
At first I was resentful. I hadn’t planned on making this leap so soon. But the social/political structure at my job was crushing me and I felt pushed to make the change. It felt like a failed test of stamina, like I was going to leave broken. But now it feels different. It’s a relief. It’s a weight off my chest and I can breath now.
And I wish I could have given more notice of my resignation. I do. But the way my opportunity arose it just wasn’t an option. But a dear friend told me something that helps with both this and the resentment I felt. She said that few of the relationships we have are ever presented to us under the ideal circumstance and that nothing will ever be completely perfect. You just have to take what’s given to you and make something of it. I liked that.
The day was exactly what I wanted it to be. I had all my friends texting and posting with words of encouragement. I had my favorite people with me at work from the start of the day till the end. The people that I didn’t want to see had the sense and decency to leave me alone. I got the chance to tell a few people what they really meant to me and to try and pass on some courage them too.
And I got to have a good private moment of catharsis with the big boss. What he said to me is really having impact. He said that all the things that I felt could have been better here, do there. And all the things that I did did well to bring with me.
I left to a wonderful standing ovation and clap from my friends. Then I got in my car, closed the door, then I laughed and I cried. If you asked my why I did either of those things I couldn’t tell you in any way that makes sense. But that’s what happened.
So here I sit, scarred, anxious, excited, relieved and tense. I don’t know what happens next but I do know this: What I did well will follow with me and what I struggled with will be done differently.
And to my co-workers who may read The Approach, whomever you are, know this: you left your mark and I’ll carry the lessons you taught me for the rest of my days. No matter who you are or what our relationship was you made me a better person and I thank you for that.