“It’s not you – it’s me!” A line made famous by George Costanza on Seinfeld – is one I can’t wait to repeat – not to my boyfriend, husband or partner – but to my employer. After almost thirty years of participating in cubicle life and such rote robot-like formalities like “good morning” “have a good weekend” and “did you have a good weekend?” and after years of performing the same tasks, in the same type of environment, at the same more or less department, I would like to take a thankful bow and exit.
Technically, having reached the pliable age of fifty-five I could call it early retirement, does anyone else remember freedom fifty-five? This for me is a turning point, I am transitioning – not to a different gender, I wish I could be that certain of something, I am instead transitioning to a new unchartered stage in my life – by willingly giving up this job – I will for the first time in my life be without a routine – and more importantly a safety net. However, I think there is something to be said about having the upper hand and knowing when it’s time to leave.
I started this job while fresh from college, with still not a clue what I wanted to be when I grow up – I took on this job just as a means to get my foot in the employment door. It didn’t hurt that while at this job I would be able to pay back my university loans. I reasoned I would stay on for only a short time and then move on to something more aligned with my interests. But this never transpired – because with each steady pay cheque and with each passing year, that familiarity and security afforded me the luxury to travel, and build a comfortable nest egg. And truthfully, this job which had become so second nature to me had also somehow comfortably cocooned me from the outside world. This job, these coworkers – we’ve all become one big dysfunctional family. And I am very attached to my family. For all these years we have lived through and acknowledged each other’s milestones and losses.
For me the looming decision to quit and possibly start over is being met with mixed reviews. “Who retires at fifty-five”? This is exactly what was said to me when I confessed to a group of friends, that I was toying with the idea of giving up my longstanding job. I have to say I was a little taken aback. I thought for sure I would be praised for recognizing my limits and for being honest enough to say I want an opportunity to try something else, maybe even go back to school.
Instead I was greeted with condemnation and predictions of doom –“I would be bored at home”, “what would I do all day”? “Who is going to hire someone at my age?” This was quickly turning into a virtual quicksand situation and I was slowly sinking deeper and deeper into self-doubt. The final straw was when the waitress appeared at our table and someone asked if the restaurant had any immediate openings. The table burst into laughter as I broke into a panicky unpleasant sweat, could they all be right? Would leaving my job be the biggest mistake of my life? If only there was an Airbnb for job swapping or situations – enabling people to experience something else for one year, then I could know for sure – “do I stay or do I go”?
I never thought my friend’s casual remark of “your job gives you a life purpose and more importantly a reason to get up in the morning” would so unnervingly upset me. My “life purpose”? I just want to embark on a new chapter at this juncture in my life – not join the clergy!
I’ll discover a new purpose to rise up to – and this time around it will be on my terms. Maybe for a change I will even allow the gentle rhythm of daylight to seep through my blinds and nudge me awake instead of the riling piercing sound of my alarm clock.
I believe that holding down a job and committing yourself to it with all your best efforts is a noble achievement in and of itself. I am not defined by my job or career. I don’t want to be remembered for what I achieved work-wise, I hope I will be remembered for being kind, generous and wonderfully weird.
When I finally build up the nerve to hand in my resignation and champion this next phase – I will do so with genuine gratitude and the utmost of respect towards my employer and my adopted family who have kept me afloat throughout the years.
I don’t have all the answers, I thought that was the whole point of embarking on a new journey – to approach it as if you were an explorer of a new frontier. It’s never too late to experience a new path or to start over – I have to keep reminding myself of this…and to borrow a line and sentiment from the beloved Star Trek – “to explore strange new worlds and to boldly go where no man has gone before” or as in my own case “to boldly not know where to go or what to do” and love the earned thrill of that ride anyways!