Light, tunnel

When I woke on Monday I had that rare feeling of certainty which has been so absent in the past few years. The only time I’ve experienced it recently was in the days just before the bank offered me their job, when I knew I should turn any offer down. On Monday I felt the same clarity about what I was meant to do. I was going to hand my notice in. It was a couple of months sooner than I originally planned, but all of a sudden I couldn’t think why I needed to wait any longer. The time had come, and I actually felt good about it. I was ready to leave.

I was going to write my resignation letter on Monday and hand it to J on Tuesday during my appraisal. Higher power intervention made me do it a lot quicker than that. J emailed me first thing on Monday to tell me that one of the other teams were having a q&a / mingling session in the kitchen, and that I had to go; it was the last thing I wanted to do, especially as I was preparing to resign. I replied to the email as politely as I could, saying that I didn’t feel comfortable going at the moment for reasons that would be easier to explain face to face. J took me aside to a room, and there it all came out. My HP wasn’t going to let this wait until Tuesday. I was honest with J, and she took it all quite well, though she was clearly surprised and disappointed that I was choosing to leave so soon into my contract. She wanted to know that I was sure; I could assure that I was.

Until then I hadn’t given any indication to anyone that I was unhappy or thinking of leaving, and I suppose this is what J was most surprised about. Had I been more open about my feelings before then the news might not have been such a bombshell for the team, but of course in a big corporation that doesn’t value employees’ feelings as much as it should, who’s going to feel confident enough to tell their boss they’re unhappy? I didn’t want to risk being fired. I’ve been through it before, this need to pretend to be happy for the sake of not rocking the boat; by Monday I was sick of it. I had to do it for years at my last company and I shouldn’t have to do it any more.

From the very start my instincts told me not to take this job. Now I know my instincts were right. I haven’t had a moment’s happiness or enjoyment since I’ve been there. I feel bad for leaving the team sort of in the lurch, since I now have just a month to train them in some very complicated tasks at a time when they’re already overstretched. J and V have both said they’ll be sad to see me go, which is nice of them, and it’s clear that they’ve been impressed with my work these past months. If I didn’t hate the company, if the office was a lot nicer, if I could wear my own clothes into work every day, I might have been able to stay, but those things aren’t going to change and my mind was made up a long time ago. In the end, the problem was both about me and the bank. The two are irreconcilable.

With my feelings out in the open I started to feel a lot better about things, and Monday and Tuesday in the office were perversely quite pleasant. All the anxiety I had about being stuck in a dead end job forever was gone. I could feel like myself again.

Today reality started to set in a bit. I’m doing pretty well for money and the need to walk straight into another job after this one isn’t critical, but it would be good to have something lined up soon. I found out that the bank only does “factual” references for new employers whereby they state the length of time you’ve worked there, your job title and reason for leaving. I assume they have this policy because they don’t want busy managers spending time writing nice long references and making it easier for leavers to move onto better jobs elsewhere, which sucks a bit.

J had said that I would get an email from HR at some point confirming my leaving date. I hoped to get this yesterday, so that it would all feel official and I’d know I was definitely leaving. One wouldn’t seriously expect the bank to turn around and refuse my resignation, but the longer I had to wait for the email from HR the more I feared that something had gone wrong and I wasn’t leaving after all. By this afternoon I started to imagine scenarios where HR never send me the email and it gets to the 24th August, my last day. In most of them I’d just leave anyway and not come back, but I’d be bothered by a knowledge that the bank hadn’t officially let me go and could turn my unacknowledged resignation into a dismissal for their benefit. Even though there was zero possibility of this happening, because it would be really stupid and far fetched (and I’d already had verbal confirmation from my manager that my leaving date will be the 24th), I am known for an ability to over-worry that surpasses most of humanity, and I got really angry thinking about it.

As the anger grew I started to find myself spying on the conversations around me again, and soon I had been sucked in again just like last Friday, back into judgment and frustration and self flagellation. I was furious at them for carrying on their stupid playground conversations – they should have psychically picked up on me criticising them last week and known I didn’t want to listen to them any more.

After lunch I had to stop thinking and accept that the email from HR would come eventually, and that there was no way I could be made to stay a moment longer after the 24th. I’m not lying when I say that a minute after this acceptance came the email. My leaving date will indeed be the 24th August. It will be an extra special weekend because the day after on the 25th, I travel to Lyon for a holiday I booked ages ago and which I’m really looking forward to.

Apart from sadness at me leaving so soon after I got there, the general attitude from close colleagues seems to be that I’m a little crazy. They don’t know that I have enough saved up and will be able to live quite comfortably without work for a few months, should it come to that. Evidently most people never have the luxury of being able to take one break in their career, let alone two. Unlike last year, I’m not planning to have a big break this time. I’d like to be in work again in September, but it will have to be something I want to do because I can’t take another job that I hate. I’m going to be choosier than I was before, much choosier, because somehow I feel that I deserve to be at this stage. I must admit it feels a little weird to say that, but I know so many people in AA who are fulfilled and happy in their jobs, so I can’t help wondering why I shouldn’t be as well.

Of course no amount of vetting will eliminate the possibility of future anxiety in any job I take. There will always be those first few nerve racking days, the parties that everyone has to go to, the awkward small talk, finding my way around a scary new office, asking for help. But I do think that I can make things a bit easier for myself by checking places out at interviews and making an actual decision about whether it’s the sort of place I’d like to work.

I’m only looking for part time work because the other part of my plan is to look at training in counselling. A few minutes research online tells me that any training route I go down will be long and expensive. For years I assumed I would leave this until my 40s, when I had some life experience and perhaps more money in the bank. This year I’ve begun to feel that I’ve done enough waiting in life. It will be difficult and expensive to train as a counsellor, but I have to make a start at some point, and I will need time to do it, so I can’t work full time any more. Thanks to living at home without bills, I won’t have to as long as I can stay here.

The future is full of uncertainty once more, and it would be easy to spend all my time in the next few months fretting, like I did at the beginning of the year. Uncertainty is a fact of life for me now – but I can still be fine in spite of it. I’ve been very good with money this year, which will make all the difference once I’m out of the bank. Against the uncertainty I have a plan, one that, if followed, will see me into a career I could love. Just as I have had many uncertain, anxious and distressed days this year there will be many more in the future, whatever happens. I hope I can be vigilant and keep going with the plan regardless.

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