Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ending On a High Note

It's hard to feel like the beginning of something new is really the beginning - it always seems to feel like the middle or the end. Am I making any sense? It's rare that a "fresh start" feels fresh at all - except like the freshness of a deep wound, the newness of a heartbreak. It often feels scary, or frustrating, or unremarkable - kind of like the middle does. Or it just feels like the end overshadows that new beginning. The way things end means a lot - means everything in the moment.

The day I left The-Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named a little over two years ago remains one of the top five best things that has ever happened to me. I strolled into my last day with my Obama t-shirt on and without any stockings on and wore a shit-eating grin all day. The detailed procedures and files had been delicately prepared, checked, and explained to the person who needed to know. The deal was done. The clock was ticking. A few coworkers gathered sheepishly for cake and I don't even think I had any. I remember sitting there and watching everyone around me like I had stepped out of myself for a while - I wasn't even gone yet but I was already on the outside looking in. I'm sure I held conversations and joked and laughed, but I don't remember much of it - except one thing.

As an aside: In the weeks leading up to that day, I had been having a hard - not because I didn't want to leave (Lord knows, I couldn't get out of the door fast enough) I just felt like no one really cared all that much. That the late nights, and extra responsibilities, and pinch hitting I'd always stepped up to do had been irrelevant, a waste of time. How silly of me. As much as I am tempted to feel that way in my current job sitch, I stop myself. You should never apologize for giving 110 percent. You should never apologize for working hard and doing the right thing. If your partner, or friend, or employer doesn't appreciate it - then maybe don't stay with them too long, but never be sorry you did your best.

Back to the "one thing." My old boss had been frustrated that I was leaving and didn't take it well; we didn't talk much those last few weeks. So I was feeling a bit down and alone (despite my joy!), and I'll never forget one of the head honchos, who was a Good Ole' Cowboy and not someone I thought too fondly of, showed up to the tail end of my sendoff. He asked if I was staying in publishing and I told him I was.

"Good, good," he said in his slow drawl. "You have a real knack for this work; you'll be a true asset wherever you land."

Wow. As much as I had wanted to stomp out of that place with my middle fingers in the air (sorry, mom) I was so humbled in that moment. Sure, we hadn't seen eye-to-eye and he hadn't been an advocate for me all along, but he reached out in kindness as he sent me on my way - ended things on a high note. And it stopped me in my tracks.

There's something to be said for that. And as much as I want to buy this Cafepress shirt (thanks for sharing, Al!) and wear it on my last day here in passive-aggressive defiance, I (probably) won't:
If this is lost on you, I work in a cold (frigid?!), quiet, all-female office. Got it now?
Yes, the last two years working here have been trying, lonely, and deflating, but they've also been some good things, too. My time here has taught me to think on my feet, analyze a problem from multiple different sides, consider the bottom line, juggle a million things without hardly ever dropping one, and not panick in the face of chaos. It also has forced me to grow some semblance of a backbone and stand on my own two feet. This place has made me a little bit of a warrior, and for that I am grateful.

Am I ending on the note I wanted to end on? Am I walking away with a perfect plan of next steps and a cushion-y cloud to land on? Am I completely at peace with these last two years? Hell no. But I want to depart with a grateful heart. I am trying to move on to the next thing with a lightness of spirit, with an amnesia of the last five years - all the crying, and stress, and PIMPLES, and condescension, and not sticking up for myself, and extreme burned-out-ness - and free myself from it all.

I hear there's very little traffic on the high road.

1 comment:

alison hughes said...

Great! Great! Post! I really loved this and the high road is truly a great road to be on. I usually 99.9% of the time - take it. The last place I worked at, I didn't but they deserved it as far as I'm concerned.
Good for you and I do believe that you are going to find it. You are going to open that new chapter. Enjoy the closing of this one.
Love ya dear!