I’ve been trying to take better care of my bee-loggy here and I stumbled on this piece I wrote after jumping ship from an old job with absolutely nothing in place. It has sat in my “Drafts” since. I never posted it because it is kinda negative. But not posting it for that reason feels disingenuous. I wrote it to sort out my mind and my feelings at that time about the entire situation when the gravity of my decision was dragging me down hard. Though I’m in a much better place now, this is how it felt back then.
If I’m being honest, and I always try to be, my choice to jump from my job wasn’t all about love and signs. The deciding moment really came down to an evaluation.
I still only hear bits of the conversation about my worth at work…. “We’ll run a report and see if you are compensated fairly?” “Run a report?” . . . “You think you are worth more than him?” Do I have to be worth more to be equal? They run the report. After two weeks, we meet again so I can be told my Kelly Blue Book value. I lost 10 pounds and my dog in those two weeks. I wasn’t involved in the process of my evaluation at all. The experience itself felt devaluing. They offer a raise which comes with a chunk of my responsibilities being removed. Confirmation I was underpaid all along. And my growth plan? My new responsibilities to take on to get to the next level are almost all responsibilities I already had. My heart sinks. What was my evaluation even based on? They have no clue what I do here. They don’t see me at all. I knew if I stayed, it would be an acceptance that my glass ceiling was firmly intact and that I was cool with that. And at one time, I actually might have been. But during those two weeks, I ran a report of my own.
A month removed and in the midst of great change, I’ve been reflecting. I left on the positive but what did that help? The other day I got a text that read something along the lines of, “You’ll be happy to hear we are dying a slow death here without you.” I guess on some level that should make me happy. But I’m not. Because despite it all, I cared about what I did. It wasn’t my dream job but I was damn good at it. Really damn good at it. I didn’t always get to use my mind to its fullest potential, cubicals suck and I wasn’t empassioned, but I sometimes believed I could make a difference there. So, no, I’m not happy to hear all the work spent creating some system out of chaos is coming undone. I was proud of what I did with the mess I inherited. It wasn’t easy. So no, I’m not glad to hear the 8 year investment of my life’s energy will, in the end, amount to nothing at all. I realize shockingly, I still care.
Maybe I should have put up a fight. I took the high road and set my sights on my new destination. The immediate rash of rage I had, where I was ready to dismantle the entire organization, subsided as I felt like I didn’t want to fight anymore. I just wanted to move on. And stay positive.
The first draft of my farewell email to my coworkers when I left was a manifesto detailing the need for a sustainable change, calling out the double standards and stressing the need for people to be empowered in their roles to fully invest in the organization. A change in thinking and a change in doing. But I made the choice instead to leave that alone, and go with the positive note of me just off to my new adventure, one I was still scrambling to fully create in my mind. It all felt right; and deep down I know it was right.
But now as I sit back and look at the situation, I know without that fight, I gained nothing and nothing has changed. I didn’t see it that way before. I know I was justified and it felt good staying on the upside of it. But in the end, taking the high road seems an awful lot like taking it in the can. Ugly metaphor but true.
I see as I am further away from it all, my mind fractured in the midst of leaving. I didn’t want to fight even with the full support of my family to get in the ring. In fact, that is what they signed up for. I didn’t want to fight because I didn’t want to lose. So I dropped off the fight card in my own mind and moved on. And even though I decided to make it all good and positive (and it really is all good and positive!), I still feel like I lost. I lost my job. I know I could never have taken the offer and feel any respect for myself. Not after that process and how small it made me feel. But still I lost. I lost all the time I invested. I lost all the life energy spent building something there. And it didn’t seem to matter much. And that hurt. And I didn’t want them to see that for a second. I was afraid to fight because I didn’t think I could afford to lose any more. And now, I fear what I may have lost by not fighting.
And that is what I sit with at this moment. This great fear. Normal for one outside their comfort zone. But it is burning a fire through me and hollowing me out. Maybe I’m setting up to rise from my ashes? But right now, I have to be with this fear and acknowledge the loss. Accept it. Because it is the truth. I cannot resist the truth. It doesn’t mean I regret my decision. It was the only authentic one available to me. I know that. And what lies ahead has the potential to be more beautiful than what I ever could have gained had I stayed put. I was on a dead end road and life showed me a detour. I just didn’t own up to how much it hurt to know I never had a real shot at being anything there. And how leaving it alone seems to have made it all for nothing. So I never tended the wound and, in turn, it hasn’t healed. It’s open and bleeding out and I have no health insurance. How can I not be afraid?