On Monday, I quit my job. I’ve got one more week at the company where I’ve worked for almost five years. It feels momentous. Even though I know it’s the right step professionally, I also know that this is the kind of change that is not to be taken lightly. Starting something new is both exciting and scary. But what I’m thinking about this week is not the starting, but the ending.
It’s always a little bit strange to work from home. The company I’m leaving is based in Chicago and although I’ve visited many, many times in the past five years, that’s not where I work, and it never has been. So my entire connection with this company is based on my relationships with my colleagues. When I gave my notice on Monday, in some ways I severed those relationships. It’s not that I won’t be friends with many of these people in the future — I certainly hope that I will be — it’s that they aren’t really my colleagues any more. Not in the same way. I’m immediately moving to a transition out, and that means I no longer need to be on every call or part of every email exchange that I would have been just a week ago. So I’m here, but I’m not here.
If you work in an office and you decide to leave, you spend your final weeks with the people you’ve worked with all along. Even if you’re not fully engaged in the projects or with the clients, you’re still going to lunch. If you don’t work in an office, it just gets quieter and quieter. And indeed it has been a very quiet week. I’m very happy about my decision, but I feel a little like a ghost. Eerie.
Next week I suppose I’ll be dealing more with the final separation. I’ll hand off my clients and daily calls and weekly responsibilities to somebody else. I’ll clean five years of nonsense off my computer, then package up my equipment and unused supplies and send them back to Chicago. I’ll wonder each time I talk to someone on the phone whether this will be the last time I speak to them, and I’ll consistently hope that it isn’t. But eventually it will be.
I’ve left a job or two before, but not many. I tend to choose my spots and stay put. I think and hope that the people who matter — those who I really connect with — will stay in touch. We’ll cross paths again as friends or maybe as colleagues. But the process of leaving is isolating, and it’s been a strange week. I look forward to getting on with the exciting, stressful, fun, busy, energizing opposite: starting something new.