One might think that I felt this huge sense of relief after I finally got the courage to quit.
Well, I didn’t. At all.
Quitting was very hard, but after the fact I actually felt more anxious than ever. Now I had to tell my coworkers. I had to tell Eric, my family, my friends. And aside from that, I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
It would have been so much more safe to just stay at that job. And that is why it is so hard for many of us to leave a bad situation. Even as crappy as they are, bad situations are SAFE.
I knew what to expect everyday I came into work. Generally, that my day would be stressful. But that is what I got used to. And the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months. I woke up unhappy each morning, but I just went through the motions.
Being someone who loves consistency, my biggest fear has always been not knowing what each day is going to bring. When you quit a job, all sense of consistency is thrown out the window.
After I quit my job and returned to my office, I called Eric. I was so shaken up I could barely get the words out.
He didn’t believe me at first. I mean, I had told him about a thousand times that I was going to quit. And I never found the guts to do it. I think he seriously thought that he was going to have to put up with me being miserable for the rest of our lives.
So when I told him, I did feel relief. I think I may have even smiled.
I just asked Eric what exactly he was thinking when I told him and this is what he said:
“I thought, ‘Bullshit. I’ve heard this before.”‘
Do I know him or what? ;) He also said that he was really happy for me once he realized I was being serious.
Telling coworkers is always interesting.
Many people were excited for me and I think were living through me vicariously. They told me they couldn’t wait to get out of there too and that I was awesome for standing up for myself.
Then there were the Debbie (or Donald) Downers- the coworkers who look at you with horror in their eyes and gasp, ‘Gee, in today’s economy I sure hope you find a job…’ and then their voice trails off. Try to avoid these people! Those are most likely the people who will be stuck in that job for the next 30 years and will still be miserable.
After the secret was out, I started to feel a bit more calm. It was still an awkward situation, but I started to feel a sense of relief. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel whereas before all I saw was a big, black hole.
They tried to get me to stay much longer than 2 weeks. I had to stay firm. I knew that the hardest part was over, so I had to stick to my guns.
I’m a Taurus and when I make a decision, I stick to it! Once I make up my mind about something, I will see it through, even if that means I am stubborn. ;) So, no I didn’t waver on my two weeks. That was something that I would not let anyone take away from me. To be quite honest, they were lucky they got the 2 weeks.
And oh were those last two weeks absolute hell.
Do you ever get the feeling that someone is trying to suck you dry and take every last ounce from you while they have you? That is how I felt. Those last two weeks were some of the longest days I put in. I had a huge list of things that I ‘must’ complete before I left (or so I was told). I absolutely could not leave any loose ends. If I didn’t get everything done, I would have to stay longer than 2 weeks (yes, I was actually told that!). I probably would have walked out the door and never came back, but I didn’t want to leave things on a sour note. I held my head up high and worked my ass off those last two weeks. It was stressful because I knew there was no way in hell I had time to tie up everything.
In my job I was responsible for the research, analyses, written reports, and presentations for about 9 different divisions, in addition to managing the internal stuff. I was also given many editing, research, and data analysis tasks each week on top of all of this. The amount that I was responsible for was ridiculously huge and should have been designated to a whole research team. I knew there was no way in hell that I would be able to tie up the ‘loose ends’ in 2 months let alone 2 weeks.
Eric kept reminding me to just put in my 8 hours a day and try not to let it get to me. After all, I was leaving, right? He got me through those last 2 weeks. Eric and my family were my rock during those last 2 weeks.
On my last day, I was mixed with so many emotions. I had become friends with many co-workers and it was really bittersweet to leave. But ultimately, I knew that I was doing what was best for me.
And you know what I realized?
That stressful year really aged me.
I felt much older than I was.
My skin didn’t glow, my hair and nails were brittle, and I just felt plain old tired all the time. I was starting to notice fine lines on my face that hadn’t been there before. I know it was a result of frowning and crinkling up my forehead from the stress. I literally felt like a walking zombie. People at work asked me if I was sick and some of them told me that I needed to gain weight. I knew all of it was a result of the stress. Stress affects every single pore in our body. And I certainly could ‘see’ it when I looked in the mirror. I shuddered to think of what it had done to my insides.
On my last day, I packed up my desk, took down my picture frames, and walked out that door. I didn’t look back.
And that is when it hit me.
I felt free.
I smiled all the way to my car. I smiled all the way home. I had absolutely no idea what tomorrow would bring, but at that point, I didn’t really care. I suddenly, knew everything would work out. I surfed the radio stations because I was desperate to hear ‘Life is a Highway’ so I could rock out to it.
It never came on, but that didn’t stop me from singing it anyways.
I knew that I had to believe in myself. I was on my own. Well, not really since I am married, but in the sense of where I would take my career, it was now up to me. I realized that no one is going to look out for me, but me.
I think my biggest lesson of all was that I had to take control of my own life.
As much as I wanted to be ‘saved’ from my situation, it never would have happened. I secretly hoped that justice would be served and suddenly I would be in a happier position, but it doesn’t tend to work out like that. The truth is, had I not taken action, I would still be in the same situation almost 1 year later. It chills me to think that.
The simple answer to it all is this: If you want to wake up to a happier tomorrow you need to take control of your destiny. You need to take small steps each day to get there. Even if that tiny step is simply applying to 1 new job each night after you get home from work or taking a couple night classes in a subject area that you love. It is much better than doing nothing.
As I drove home that night, I said, “If you got through that, you can get through anything.”
And that has been my motto ever since.
In Part 7, I am going to talk more about the specific things I did that helped me take the leap. A lot of you have been asking for some concrete things you can do in your own situation, so I will tell you what worked for me.
Enjoy your Tuesday! :)
“The first step to getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~unknown
“Making the beginning is one third the work.” ~Irish Proverb