A little over a week ago I closed the chapter on a job I’ve had for eight years. It was a decision that’s been a long time coming, and despite how terrifying it is to not have a major source of income at this time, it was the best decision.
I spent the first week of “freedom” just being. I didn’t have specific plans. Just a list of things I wanted to do. Like start a bullet journal. Write more. Watch World Cup games. Read fiction books for a change. I actually thought I’d miss the routine of the job. The emails, the application checklists, the processes I created over the years. I thought I’d go through some kind of withdrawal. I did spend eight years of my life there, after all. But instead it struck me how easily one can leave a place–at least physically and logistically. It only took me an hour or so to clean out my desk, file away some papers, respond to that last email. And the next day my email and phone were disabled. One day you’re there, and the next it’s like you were never there.
I was fortunate enough to work with some pretty amazing people many of whom became true friends. When big decisions were made that fundamentally altered our jobs, we stuck with it and did it well even though at times it felt like the office was going to fall apart. We shared a lot of laughs, some tears, and lots of beer. As proud as I am of the work I accomplished, it’s the relationships I built with colleagues and students that I will always treasure and treasure more. I think I lost sight of that in the past few months. I was so immersed in my own issues and thoughts, I wasn’t sure whether I was a good colleague, friend, or even a good person anymore. (Sometimes when you are that unhappy it affects everything else).
On my last day a mixture of colleagues, their families, and current and former students celebrated with me at a local restaurant. It felt like my birthday! But even better. Because by showing up they told me that I matter, and not because I happened to be born on that day. I matter on an ordinary day. I mattered to them. And they matter to me.
In the end, I could have left two, three even five years ago, but I think I was meant to leave now.