Small thoughts about leaving my job

Yesterday was my last day in a job I’ve had for over a decade. I had some thoughts, but mostly just felt empty.

Red cardinal in a field

Yesterday was my final day in a job I’ve had for nearly twelve years. We had a nice farewell morning tea, and I talked more to some people I worked with than I have in years.

I packed up the last of the detritus from my office, set an email auto-reply, and closed my work email for the last time. Then I was officially job-free.

Several random people waved friendly greetings or complimented my plant as I walked to my car. It might have been because I was wearing a hat with ears.

It might have just been a weird day.

Leaving a place with good people that has been a home for you is sad, but I didn’t feel sad. I get to choose what to do next and that should be exciting, but I didn’t feel excited.

I felt numb.

Then it struck me that I don’t have a job and I may not even have an occupation any more. For a moment I fell.

I’ve always had interests outside work, but I was surprised to realise how much of my identity has been tied up in what I do.

Intellectually, I know my value doesn’t come from my standing in my profession, yet I can’t help but feel less without it.

I’ve always been work-me plus personal-me, and now I’m just personal-me. Is it a wonder I feel smaller?

I know I’ll be fine, and soon I’ll feel happy and free, but for now it intrigues me to take these feelings out, examine them with a microscope, and consider how I might use them in my fiction.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Any wisdom to share?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

9 thoughts on “Small thoughts about leaving my job”

  1. I think if you’re not feeling sad about leaving that workplace then it was the right decision! I’ve never left a job without going to another one, or to Uni, but I can imagine that I’d feel numb with anxiety over the unknown. You’re making a huge change so you probably need a few days to process it. Like you say, it’ll be an interesting time to observe your own emotions!

    It is funny how we keeping finding parallels in our lives! I have 21 days left of my current job before I move to my new one, so I’m in limbo and I am actually still feeling quite emotional about it (I actually cried after resigning!). I have had to start telling my clients, and planning for handing over. I just saw the advertisement for my job which feels really strange!

    I have good reasons to leave, but its scary to go somewhere new! I’ve never made a sideways move like this before. I’ve always gone on to objectively much better jobs, this time its really a very similar role at a rival company. It does in a way feel I’m being disloyal by jumping ship – but then if this company had what I need I wouldn’t be leaving!

    I have managed to wangle 1 week off between jobs, and I could not be more excited about that!

    I hope you can find inspiration in this experience. Think of all the extra space you’ll have in your brain for creativity once thoughts of work leave it. I hope you give yourself a chunk of time just to relax and process first though.

    1. It’s kind of reassuring to know I’m walking this path with such a cool person. 🙂

      Awesome to hear you have a week off before you start your new job! I’m sure the chance to decompress will do good things for you.

      I plan to take considerably more than a week before I start looking for my next job, so I should have plenty of time to process. It’s a good thing, too, because I’m terrible at figuring out what I’m feeling emotionally.

  2. It’s entirely normal to feel numb in the immediate wake of a big life change, and this counts as one. So you’re taking the right approach: slow down and just watch the emotions as they emerge, which they will, and do your best to not get capsized by any of them. But even if you do, you’ll bob back up sooner or later and find your course. Now I will stop torturing metaphors and wish you well.

    1. Eeek! I hope any going under involves immediate bobbing back up. I have this huge fear of being underwater and not being able to breathe.

      Thank you for your well wishes, but you really need to apologise to the poor metaphors you tortured.

  3. It’s a shock to the system, so give yourself time to adjust. We’re talk from a very young age that we are expected to grow up and get a job, working for other people as if there are no other options. I’ve been through a couple of lay-offs, and I had that same sense of being unmoored and grasping at what to do next (in my case it consisted largely of job hunting). Now that I’m calling myself retired and not looking to go back to Corporate America I’m exploring side hustles of things I like to do and can hopefully make some money at. Once the shock wears off the sense of freedom will set in. Life is short, spend some of it doing what you want to do!

      1. Yes! “Life is short” is exactly where my mind was at when I decided it was time to leave. Thanks for the encouragement! I hope you’re enjoying your freedom from Corporate America. 🙂

  4. I felt the same when I quit the day job with nothing else (paid job wise) lined up. In a world where society places so much emphasis on what you do for a career, you can end up feeling sort of bereft without a paying job, and pursuing your own goals as a priority feels weird because it goes against what society expects. There were those that didn’t get it, like some of my older relatives, who kept asking me things like ‘don’t you want to work?’ And I’m like, but I am working. From home. On my own goals. Writing. Doing an MA. Figuring myself out. By the way they asked the same question practically every time I saw them, I don’t think they ever truly understood!

    Branching out into extra hobbies filled the void somewhat for me (video games/reading more mostly!) and I started to treat writing like a career by setting up office hours and office space etc, which was a whole lot of fun because I got to arrange bookcases and marvel figures and other inspirational stuff. Take some time off too, you’ll settle in to your new reality soon enough 😀

    1. You’re right, so much of society tells us we shouldn’t prioritise things like writing. It might be nice as a thing on the side, but “you can’t make a living from that”. I haven’t tried explaining to people what I’m doing. I just say I’m taking some time to myself and I’m going to write while I think about what I’m going to do next. Most people are accepting of that.

      I love the idea of setting myself office hours for writing. It’s tricky right now because hubby is on holiday, but when he’s back working I think I’m going to do that. I have a desk to write at in the corner of the room, and with winter over it might even be warm enough for me to sit there. I don’t have books there (they’d fall off), but my desk currently has a towel for the cats to sit on. (I might have to move that.) I can’t wait!

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