The end of an era

Yesterday I left my job of six and a half years.

Leaving so soon wasn’t really part of my plan. I had intended to (hopefully) secure a place at university, then work until the summer, having a short break before starting uni. I planned to use my notice period to look for a new job that would be compatible with studying.

Last week, my plan changed completely.

I had a rough and stressful couple of weeks – senior people in my team weren’t in the office, our CEO had put a lot of pressure on us and we’d had a lot of very uncomfortable discussions. I didn’t really feel that the discussions were particularly productive or were taking us in the right direction, which led to me feeling a lot of frustration. The company attempts to promote openness and input from everyone, but often it doesn’t happen this way.

At the end of the first stressful week, I flew to China, for what was supposed to be a two week trip. Partway through the first week I had some very frustrating conversations with the CEO. I’m not going to go into details, but I was left feeling very hurt and upset, and bewildered as to what his actual problem with me was (he wouldn’t tell me). The behaviour just seemed so childish, and not in any way how a CEO should behave towards his employees. If you have a problem, you talk it out. The fact that someone could make me feel like that for no good reason was enough to make me incredibly unhappy.

It was decided by colleagues in the UK I should fly home early and someone else with different knowledge should fly out. This may have genuinely been the reason, but I was quite sceptical and thought there was a good chance I was coming back so they could try to dismiss me. This might seem like I have an overactive imagination, jumping to the worst conclusions, however I’ve seen it happen before.

A lot of texts and a couple of phone calls later with my husband, and many texts later with one of my best friends, I had pretty much decided to resign once I got back. I had already submitted my university application before I went, and I’d also got to the point where I really was losing interest in the work, and I didn’t like the idea of the structural changes taking place. I’d have been prepared to keep an open mind about the changes, but combined with everything else, they were just too much.

I talked it over with my husband when I got home (he used to work for the same company so he knows exactly what it’s like), and we agreed it would be for the best. Even if they weren’t trying to dismiss me, I was unhappy in the workplace environment, very unhappy with who I was working for and not passionate about the work.

Yesterday morning, I was incredibly nervous about what I would find going into work. I wasn’t sure whether the CEO had discredited me in front of colleagues (not an unusual thing for him to do) and whether they would now have negative opinions of me. I also wasn’t sure whether I should expect the start of the dismissal process. It soon became clear that wasn’t the case, as my resignation was met by absolute shock. HR even tried to convince me to stay, but my mind was made up.

Happy that the company hadn’t been trying to dismiss me, I actually had quite a pleasant leaving experience. One of the senior people in my team, who had been off the previous couple of weeks (and therefore oblivious to what had happened) was visibly upset that I was leaving, way more so than I expected. I also got the chance to see my best friend at the company, who started the job just four working days before me, which was also really nice. I even started to wonder if I was doing the right thing.

Now I just feel a bit emotional, and a bit ‘weird’, for lack of a better description. I talked to my husband, and was reassured that I have done the right thing. The job was making me unhappy, sometimes miserable, and it just wasn’t worth it. For what it’s worth, my husband is also overjoyed that I won’t be going to China anymore.

I’m trying to take this week to just enjoy myself, and to not worry about what to do next. I’m also trying to make sure I don’t fall into the trap of just finding a job to make sure I have an income, but to actually think about what I want to do. I’ve been saving to support myself through university, so I can afford not to work for a short time whilst I try to work it out. That said, I’m finding it very hard not to feel guilty about giving up my income.

I’m proud of myself though. This year I have been making a conscious effort to be better at being ‘me’, and whilst this has ended up with me making some slightly scary decisions, as well as lots of smaller changes, I’m already feeling happier. You can’t put a price, or a salary, on that.

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