I almost just wrote a post about how looking at my own Facebook profile makes me feel ugly, fat and friendless but then I remembered that whining is obnoxious and Facebook is pretty much designed to make us feel bad about ourselves. That said, I desperately need a haircut, a wardrobe intervention and a solid week without sugar. God help me.
Anyway, I have something way more important to talk about than my pale skin and pathetic roots (OKAY I’M DONE NOW).
Today was my last day at my consulting job. I don’t think it is probably a surprise to anyone that reads my blog with any regularity that I have decided to pursue a position outside of consulting. If you know me in real life, you probably already knew about my decision, but I have been waiting for the right moment to talk about it in internet-land.
I was not aggressively looking for new jobs, but I came upon a really, really great – almost perfect – opportunity at a company where a former classmate started a job in January. I grilled her on the phone for at least two hours until I had myself feeling really excited and breathless about the prospect of even APPLYING for the job. It is exactly what I went to school for and the position will be similar to the role I had at an internship I loved. The company manufactures medical devices, which is similar to the industry of the company where I did my internship and makes me feel good that I am helping people with the products I will be helping to manufacture. I won’t be working in downtown Minneapolis anymore, but the commute is decent.
After finding this opportunity that got me feeling motivated and inspired about work, I considered a couple truths about what I have been doing in consulting.
I am very much a creature of routine and I value alone time and control over my own schedule and eating choices. It has been really hard for me to be away from home so often, and it has been hard to maintain a sense of routine and normalcy. I have had little visibility to when I might be traveling next, spent the vast majority of my “free” time with my coworkers (driving to/from work and almost all meals), and am generally deciding on a spot to eat with 2-5 other people, if I have a say in the food at all. I don’t feel healthy or well-rested when I’m traveling, and when I’m in the hotel, I’m constantly craving my own bed, my own coffeemaker, dinner in my own kitchen… you get the idea. And you’ve read it a million times before.
I was beginning to feel unfulfilled and less than engaged in my work. I don’t really feel comfortable getting into the details of exactly what I was doing/where I was working/etc., but I can generalize by explaining that my consulting job was not really what I went to school for and I would like to be doing work more along the lines of what I studied and did in my internships. For me, consulting work was a bit.. rigid with not a lot of room in the “implementation methodology” for creativity or variety, and it was frustrating for me to do projects and then walk away from the client without ever really witnessing the end result of our work or having the opportunity to follow up on things that weren’t in scope or were left imperfect due to time constraints.
Despite having known for awhile that consulting with my firm is not what I want to do long-term, I am bummed to be leaving. I really, really like my coworkers and bosses and I am going to miss the people so much. I laughed a lot at work, and always knew there would be someone who had my back and was supporting me when I felt overwhelmed and frustrated by the feeling that I was in the “wrong” job. Many of my coworkers knew how I was feeling before they learned of my decision, too. Nonetheless, I was a nervous wreck to put in my official notice because I didn’t want them to think I was ungrateful for my experience over the last 9 months. It was also really bad timing since I just started on a new project that has a major milestone coming up in just 2 weeks.
My fears were completely unfounded and everyone at work has been, as usual, totally supportive. The nice emails and well wishes I have received the last few weeks have made me even more sad to be leaving, but I know I have made the right choice and am so excited to start at my new job.
I have had the feeling of being disappointed in myself many times over the past 9 months. Every time I was hating my hotel room and feeling stifled, I felt like I was being a quitter, a wuss, and like I had made a stupid mistake in choosing my job. I gave myself a lot of pep talks to stick it out, give it another chance, and think positive. I also worried that I was “wasting” the time I spent on the job because I knew it wasn’t right for me. I have felt like a huge jerk for complaining so much about a job when a lot of people aren’t employed at all or are MUCH further away from their area of interest/expertise relative to what my job was compared to my area of interest.
My negative thoughts were wrong. I have grown a lot and learned so much from this experience. I have built some great relationships with hardworking and intelligent people that I hope to keep in touch with for many more years of my career. I have grown up a lot. I have learned business acumen and project management and critical thinking, but I have also learned about what I want out of life and what my priorities are. (I have definitely learned how to pack a carry on and navigate an airport like a pro, and how much it can change your day to just have the choice of packing your own lunch.)
In some ways, I feel like I am back at square one. It is scary to be starting a new job, especially one that is very different from what I have been doing since I graduated. After taking 5 years to graduate and now working for almost a full year, starting over makes me feel like I’m a little “behind”. But life is not a race, and a new opportunity is a clean slate. I am excited to take on my new job as an exciting adventure. I can’t wait to meet my new coworkers, start learning, and make an impact. I’m starting on Monday! I am officially trading my frequent flyer miles for a daily commute.
The last year has felt like a long period of figuring things out, and I have often felt like I am running a million miles an hour with no clue what direction I’m going in. I am hopeful that transitioning into my new job is going to be a catalyst for feeling settled and more productive in this post-college phase of my life, gaining confidence in the direction I have chosen in life, and finding more happiness in my days.
I have read Katie’s post from when she left her job over and over again in the course of making this decision, because I have had similar feelings of guilt about letting people down with my choice. I have felt consumed by anxiety about what people would think of me for leaving my job after 9 months (am I quitting too early? do people wonder why I’ve stayed this long?). I have worried about sharing the decision with my bosses, my family, my friends. I felt terrible during the period between knowing that I was taking the job while waiting for the final paperwork to come through and finally giving my notice. I suck at keeping secrets. I am still feeling bad about leaving in the middle of a project. But to quote Sweet Tater herself,
I am not sorry.
If you’re thinking about trying something new but feel like the world is holding you back, consider the possibility that you may be the one in charge for once. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now.
Wish me luck!