a perfect celebration

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I had such a great time last night celebrating the end of my desk job with all my best friends.

When I finally left work yesterday, it was a little bittersweet. I’d had a really nice lunch with one of my bosses, a woman who I’ve never spent much time getting to know, but our conversation over lunch was surprisingly easy and pleasant. Then I spent the afternoon working hard to tie up a lot of loose ends and make sure everything was in place for the new girl. It seems silly to me now, but I kept thinking, This is the last time I’ll do this, this is the last time I’ll do that.

The job I left yesterday was actually my very first full time job after college – so I’ve been employed there on two separate occasions and had other jobs in between. I graduated college two years later than the rest of my class because I dropped out right before my senior year. After I finally graduated at age 23, I quit my handful of part-time evening and weekend jobs (theater house manager, box office treasurer, etc.) and took on a job at a successful music and media law firm. I worked for famous clients, somewhat demanding attorneys and generally got my feet wet in the world of New York City office life. It was kind of a fast paced, overwhelming environment for me, especially as a “first” job. And I was exhausted after working there for almost a year. So when a higher paying, slower paced job at a university came along, I jumped at the chance to make the change.

A year and a half later I got fired from that university job, which was a really unfortunate experience, but also a blessing in disguise. I’m not sure I ever would have left that job if I hadn’t been fired. It was incredibly easy and low commitment and I probably would have worked their for years, unhappily. Who knows, maybe I would have been walking out of that office for the last time yesterday had I continued to work there.

So after I was fired, I temped for a year at various offices around the city. Then I got a call from the office manager at my old music law firm job, the same woman I had lunch with yesterday. She said they needed somebody, heard I was available and asked me to come back. I was thrilled. I needed the money, the stability, the routine, the health insurance and I didn’t want to have to work unpredictable temp jobs anymore. Plus the law firm, although sometimes stressful, had always been an okay place to work – one of the better survival jobs I’d ever had. It was perfect timing. Even though I knew this wasn’t My Career Path, I figured it would be a great place holder for the time being. And it was.

I stayed there for another two years. And, as you’re well aware, I left for good yesterday. These past two years have been much easier for me than the first time I was employed there. Sure, there were stressful times and unreasonable demands from rich people and times when I felt underappreciated. But as I’m now older and more mature, I was able to let that stuff go more often. Okay, yes, I started a blog about wanting to quit the job. And sometimes I complained, okay, okay, true. But all in all, it’s been a decent job. And since I first worked there when I was just out of college, it will always be special to me.

I learned about having a “real” job at that office. In fact, I actually started regularly drinking coffee because of that job, when I first worked there at age 23. I made friends and made mistakes and grew up in a lot of ways while working there. And although I’m sure I’ll go back to visit, I knew I was leaving the end of a chapter last night in a lot of ways. I had a different respect for and understanding of what it meant to be leaving than I’d had the first time I left. I didn’t feel like running out of there cheering last night. I felt proud of myself for being brave enough to leave a complacent lifestyle, but I also felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend, a friend I’d outgrown.

She was good to me in many ways, that job. Helped me pay down debt, save money for this transition, and provided me with a safe, stable place to go to every day. I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. I realized as I left notes for the new person and filed things in their proper place, emailed my boss the last of his messages, and organized things for Monday morning so that the girl who’s replacing me isn’t so overwhelmed, that even if I haven’t always given 100% at that job, I’m good at it. It’s not a hard job to be good at it, but even so. I knew what I was doing.

One of our clients called on Thursday and after I said hello to him and then transferred the call to my boss, he said to my boss, “You know, I like Jen so much. She is always so nice to me when I call. You’d better never let her go.” And my boss said, “It’s funny you should say that because she’s leaving tomorrow.” That same client called me yesterday and told me he’s really going to miss me. And he wished me luck in my “writing or whatever else you’re passionate about,” and told me he thinks it’s great that I’m going to do my own thing. Naturally, that made me feel really good. It was very sweet of him to tell me so.

I had a lot of those kinds of conversations with work people yesterday. For once in my life, I was totally honest with everyone in the workplace, from the moment I gave my notice in early September, about why I’m leaving and what I’m really going to do. And it felt good to do that. It’s hard to be a creative person and find the words to explain to people who seem to be content in a non-creative environment that you’re going off to write stories, play dress-up and be artsy. At least, that’s how it sometimes feels coming out of my mouth. I fear blank stares and the inability to relate. But I laid it all out for anyone who asked: Not cut out to work in an office. Want to write, perform, bake, exercise, follow my bliss. And, to my surprise, they were all supportive and understanding. We all want to be fulfilled and happy.

A kind of high strung, but funny attorney with a big personality, who often can’t be bothered to pay attention to a world outside of his own told me on his way out the door last night that he hopes I achieve everything I want to, and that I find all the happiness I’m seeking. “Because this,” and he gestured around to the office, “isn’t it.” Also surprising. And validating. I underestimate people’s ability for empathy sometimes.

Kevin came to pick me up from work last night and take me to my party. It was so sweet to have him there and when I walked out of the building holding his hand, I let out a huge sigh. It felt right. Today, I feel really…good. I feel peaceful. To be honest, I feel joyful.

…okay NOW I’ll write about the party last night! I guess I needed to get the rest of that stuff off my chest!

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2 thoughts on “a perfect celebration

  1. I’m always amazed when support and insight comes from such unlikely / unrecognized places… I think that’s great that you had those three experiences (good lunch, nice client compliment, lawyer comment). You’re great, and you probably WERE a really unusually nice bright spot in a lot of people’s normally crappy days… it is wonderful to have those little things acknowledged. And having such a great last day means that you can always look back on this job just a little better than you expected! Now, go rule the world. 😉

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