The past year was been… rough. All over, but particularly at work. I started traveling at the beginning of March 2018 and didn’t stop until March 15, 2019. To say I was burnt out was an understatement. I had traveled at least part of nearly every week. I was gone so much in September 2018 that I asked Aaron to keep Delta for the entire month. By the time it was over, I was bone weary. I wanted my own house. My own bed. My normal life.
The Burn Out
It took me until late spring to even realize I was burned out. Everything felt off. Wrong. Hard. We started a new project and I was treated as the de facto lead since I was the only team member who’d been through something similar before. When I started work on these projects previously, it was set up as a “figure it out as you go” process and I’d done the best I could. Yet now when I told my team things weren’t defined, I was treated as being rude or stubborn or unhelpful. I wasn’t saying we couldn’t find a way to define them – I was saying there wasn’t a predetermined answer. But I couldn’t seem to communicate that. My frustration went up, as did theirs. The friction started to wear me thin.
Maybe I’m a dreamer
Maybe I’m misunderstood
Maybe you’re not seeing the side of me you should
I spent the summer trying to breathe some life into my singed edges. Because we had a project in full swing, I couldn’t take a real vacation. I started looking at the 10-day forecast and picking out the most likely “beach day” to request off. I had incredibly good luck and enjoyed a dozen or so gorgeous summer days by the ocean. I was even lucky enough to share some of them with a BJJ teammate and his family. But the feeling of overwhelm at work persisted.
I decided to take a real break – the entire week of Labor Day. It took me until Thursday of that week to wake up at a normal time. I was so rundown, every previous morning I’d slept until 10 or later. When I walked into my massage therapist’s office, she commented I looked so different – so much more relaxed than normal. I told her it was my 6th day off and I’d just started to feel rested.
The very first day back, the very first email of any consequence, my blood pressure spiked. My heartbeat was pounding in my ears and my body was overheating. My reaction was strong because this wasn’t a new experience. It was a pattern.
Maybe I’m crazy
(Maybe I’m crazy)
Maybe I’m the only one
(Maybe I’m the only one)
Maybe I’m just out of touch
Maybe I’ve just had enough
Now that I wasn’t simply trying to keep from drowning, I started to take stock. To really look at where I was and what I was doing. I’d been in my position for over 3 years. I’d taken on nearly all the roles available within my team. There wasn’t a promotion available or a different position within my company that I would want. I realized that while I’d been drowning, I’d been stagnating as well. Simply trying to keep afloat instead of moving forward.
One day in early October, I saw a meme: “There are 3 months left in this decade. Read that again.” I know, anyone with a computer or phone and a few minutes can make a meme. But it struck me.
A whole decade was about to come to a close. At the beginning of the decade, I’d been on the start of this new path – just a kernel of my current career starting to form. I’d started my post-college job life just sort of falling into something I knew I could do. I floundered, I wasn’t really sure where I belonged, where I could really put my strengths to use. I started to look at my field but I didn’t seem to have the experience to get in the door. At one point in 2013, after a traumatic job loss from a position I had only taken to “have a job” and didn’t enjoy, I spent 7 months unemployed. I had decided I would only take a job in my new field.
At the close of the decade, I was firmly established in the career that I had chosen. Deliberately and stubbornly. The success of “getting there” had happened. But now it was time to grow. And to go.
Maybe it’s time to change
And leave it all behind
I’ve never been one to walk alone
I’ve always been scared to try
So why does it feel so wrong
To reach for something more
To wanna live a better life
What am I waiting for?
‘Cause nothing stays the same
Maybe it’s time to change
So I made a plan. Out by the end of the year – the decade – whether I had a new job or not. It scared me but I knew it was right. I spent October and November working with a career coach and starting to submit applications. In early December, I took the vacation I’d planned over the summer, a week long getaway to Costa Rica for a surf camp. I knew the day I returned, I would put in my notice. That would put my end date on December 27th, just a few days shy of the end of the year.
My vacation came and went. I told nearly every person I met about my plan when I got home. Not only because I was excited, but because I needed to give myself no way to back out. No way to let fear get the better of me and let me stall out or become apathetic. There could be no “maybe” about it.
Monday came, I sent my official resignation email, copying Human Resources, as my career coach advised. The reply came a few hours later, a confusing single line stating “Thank you, Julia!” Thank me for… leaving? OK.
Maybe it’s hopeless
(Maybe it’s hopeless)
Maybe I should just give up
(Maybe I should just give up)
I’ve heard a lot of people say that when you’re making the right changes in your life, you attract the right things. This is not how it happened for me. Everything went to shit.
After I sent the email, I discovered that the deadline for the last major piece of work I had to do had been moved up a week. Testing and writing that I had planned to do during the nice quiet week of Christmas had to be completed the prior Friday (or over the weekend) for use on Monday. And while some people reading might say “You were already leaving, fuck ’em” not finishing the work would have put a coworker – one who I’d worked with well and had been a good sounding board – up a serious creek with no paddle. It needed to be done.
On my way home from work, stopping by the house for just a quick minute before I went to Jiu Jitsu for the first time in a week and a half, I got a flat tire. Right at the time when the nearby shop was closing. I was able to get my car into the driveway. It was cold. It was dark. The last time I’d changed a tire had been a bright summer day and it wasn’t on this car. In addition to missing my BJJ training, which I was in desperate need of, I was supposed to pick up Delta from my ex. My vacation meant an extra half week without her and I had been looking forward to seeing her.
What if I can’t trust myself?
What if I just need some help?
So I did what every strong, independent woman would do… I broke down into hysterical tears. Then I called my best friend. Even the act of calling her started helping get my head on straight. So I called my ex, told him what had happened, asked if he could bring Delta to me … and “Oh, by the way, can you put on my donut? Because if one more thing goes wrong tonight, I’m going to lose it.”
It’s been over a month since I left my job. The job hunt is going slower than I’d intended. Jiu Jitsu training is going slower than I’d intended. My writing has been somewhat non-existent outside of this post. But I’m asking for help from the right people and trusting that I made the right decision. It’s no longer “maybe” – it’s discovering what “may be.”