Monday, June 1st, is my last day at the only company I’ve ever worked for. After nearly eight years working in HR for this company, I’ve conducted dozens of exit interviews, collected hundreds of laptops, wished countless people goodbye and good luck, and now Monday is my turn.
As anyone who’s had more than a two-minute conversation with me in the past year can attest, deciding to leave my job has been a long and difficult process, full of many false starts and stops, a leave of absence, and occasional (ok, fine: frequent) hysterical meltdowns. As a risk-averse person who’s been on the “high achiever” trajectory her entire life, leaving this job at a top company without a definite next step outlined is an enormously emotional and frightening undertaking. In the last few days, as my leave of absence ends and my official end date approaches, I’ve been berating myself nonstop. I have a little demon who lives in my head and spends most of his time yelling at me for being stupid, lazy, entitled, weird, awkward, ugly…you get the picture. Working with my therapist, I actually drew the demon so I could talk to him and get him to chill (IT WORKS, OK?). Here is what he looks like:
Yeah, I’m not an artist, but the point is, he’s been especially loud the past few days. “Why did you even go to college if you were just going quit this job at thirty?” the demon yells. “Most people would kill to have your job! If you leave now, you might as well throw the last decade of your life down the drain! You have wasted your youth and your energy, AND FOR WHAT, SO YOU CAN TRY TO WRITE? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING YOU NAIVE TWAT? I HATE YOU! ALSO, YOU’RE FAT!” (Yes, the demon is a fat-shamer, too, just because he has SUCH GREAT ABS. Well, demon, it’s easy to have great abs when you are a construct of my psyche and don’t need to eat actual food to survive so SHUT UP).
Living with the demon is exhausting, but I know he’s a piece of me, a younger piece, who is just afraid that I won’t be able to take care of myself (and, by extension, of him) without this job. What the demon doesn’t know, however, is that the past eight years, far from being a waste, have equipped me to be a stronger and happier person. These are the abilities/qualities/items that the demon doesn’t realize I’ve gained over the past eight years that are going to make the rest of my life better:
- Actual work skills: Let’s face it, going to college teaches you nothing about how to do things in an actual work environment. After nearly a decade in tech, I can do real things like productively counsel people on how to deal with their mean boss, help people get better jobs and figure out their own lives, and analyze things IN EXCEL!!! I also have a bunch of LinkedIn connections so that’s cool.
- Fake work skills: These are just as important as real work skills, and include stuff like: saying things in meetings that sound impressive but are actually mostly a recitation of acronyms, making useless graphs and putting them in slide decks and pointing to them in said meetings to a round of approving nods, blocking time on calendar marked “meeting with XYZ” where you are actually just hiding from everyone else in the office in a conference room while doing yoga breathing in order to alleviate your ever-present social anxiety.
- Kind of managing my mental illness: Obviously, this is something that I’ve learned with the help of doctors and therapists, but the high-pressure environment of my job forced me to figure my shit out and prioritize taking care of myself so that anxiety and depression don’t consume me.
- Being a real adult, mostly: I have a 401K, a savings account, and a rent-controlled apartment! I also had a wine club membership once, but I canceled it, but I’m counting it as an adult thing because most of my cool, older bosses over the past 8 years have had wine club memberships and I considered them real adults.
- Amazing life experiences and FRIENDZ: Because of this job, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in two of the best cities in the world – NYC and San Francisco – and make new friends for life. I’ve also done some truly ridiculously awesome and random shit, including spending several days in the UK countryside crying in the forest with a group of coworkers and telling a lamb in a rain-soaked pasture that I was going to eat its cousin for dinner (I did). I regret nothing, except maybe taunting that lamb. Its cousin was delicious, though.
The point is that I have not wasted my youth or energy or education, and I’m not wasting it now. I am in charge of my life, and I am more prepared for whatever’s next than my demon thinks I am. You’ll see, demon: I am leaving my job, and it WILL be ok.