In the category of Life-Changing News, I have this for you: Tomorrow is my last day of work.
What some of my friends and family already know is that I recently decided to leave my job. And I didn’t take another one — at least not one that pays.
However, my new full-time responsibilities are pretty big, complete with two new bosses. Here is their most recent management headshot.
And, just like that, I’m out of full time Corporate America.
I lie. It’s not “just like that.” I’m not crazy enough to do this on a whim. This took a lot of consideration, mental wrestling, soul searching and, at times, wine. Because, for almost 20 years, I have gotten up and gone to work every single day. I had great jobs. Some may even say I was pretty good at what I did. And I thrived on my work.
For a long while, anyway.
After my son was born in 2007, I knew I was going back to work. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. And I sorted it out pretty well, overall. There were many moments of stress, but the pros outweighed the cons of the whole balancing act. I felt accomplished, both at home and in the office.
My daughter came along in 2009. Things got harder to balance. I’m not sure if it was a sheer incremental equation (two kids > one kid) but certainly other factors were at play. My husband took a new job at that time and could not be around as much to help out. I had been promoted, which was great, but also meant more responsibility. Then we moved out of the city for more space, and that meant a longer commute — which resulted in seeing our kids even less.
Gradually, things started to feel less rewarding and more like a situation hanging on by a thread. But I had always done this – I had always made this work — so why wouldn’t I continue? This is what I do. This is who I am.
Or maybe it’s not anymore. The voice of doubt started to slowly creep in.
There were increasing moments of questioning how my life was playing out. I felt like I wasn’t doing any one thing exceedingly well anymore. I felt like I was missing out too much at home. I felt like the sense of reward and accomplishment from my career was no longer nearly as self-defining.
I waffled about this for a long time. Waffling is exhausting, let me tell you. It’s also not my strong suit. And then, one day, I just stopped waffling and took a leap of faith.
Am I scared? Yes. Scared of losing that piece of myself from the professional world (can you really “always go back?”). Scared of scaling back our income. But, most of all – and I hate to write this because it sounds horrible — I’m scared, after being out of the house for 50+ hours each week, that I won’t be a good full-time mother.
But, despite these things, I know in my heart it was the right decision.
I don’t want to miss everything. I don’t want my son to accidentally call me by the nanny’s name a couple of times a week. I don’t want to feel like I’m about to have a stroke whenever trying to balance both sides of this equation. And to the many women who juggle this balancing act, I wholeheartedly salute you. Likewise, to the women who stay home with their children, I am so utterly impressed by what you do. I hope I can do it just as well. Oh, and please say hi to me in Starbucks or at pre-school, even though I have always been that mother who was never around much during the week. I swear, I was doing my best.
Just because it’s the right thing for me to leave, it doesn’t make it easy. I’ve been working for a long time, but my current job is one where I really feel like I grew up and got a real career. Where I learned amazing things from super-talented people.
When I started there in 2004, there was a gaping hole in the Earth across the street at Ground Zero. Today, progress takes its place.
Then, I had a boyfriend. Today, that man is my husband and the father of our children.
Then, I lived in Manhattan and went out to dinner at 10pm. Today, I gladly call the suburbs home and pass out on my couch at 10pm.
Then, I knew I was joining a fabulous company with a great group of people. Today, I am proud to call many of them my very good friends who I will miss seeing every day. Some of them, I will always, always know.
A lot has changed in those seven years, but maybe what has changed the most is me.
So, goodbye suits. Goodbye, office. Goodbye (and good riddance), NJ Transit and PATH Train. Goodbye, Blackberry.
Most of all, goodbye to that part of my identity. The part I always thought played a big role in defining me, but no longer will. The part for which I’m so grateful but I just don’t need as much anymore.
Hello to new adventures and to making up for lost time.