Last Friday was my last day at my corporate job. My last day badging in and walking through a sleek lobby past countless security guards and ascending to an upper floor of a shiny downtown office building. And, it brought with it a bunch of thoughts and feelings I wasn’t expecting.
Now, to start off, for the most part I liked this job. It paid well, I had a great boss, the work was easy and stress was low. It was a very comfortable job. There were many things I didn’t care for – all the pointless acronyms and initiatives, endless meetings, and just enough HR baloney to get my blood rising. I did work that was interesting, although mostly unchallenging, and I was held in fairly high esteem, despite my introverted nature. But to sum it up – I didn’t feel inspired by the job anymore, and that is why I left for a new challenge that I think will be more fulfilling (teaching).
Now, I have no regrets about this career move, I have no doubts it is the correct move for me and the family, despite a paycheck 1/3 the size as before. Whatevs. If you are reading this blog, you probably already know that money isn’t everything. But I still feel melancholy about closing another chapter in my life. I worked with good people, and caring people, and despite the best intentions, I know I will not see many of them again. We all have busy lives.
Mostly what I think about is how much of myself I put into this company. Nine years may not seem like a long time to some of you, but its about a quarter of my life. For the last nine years, I have spend more time thinking about this company than I have my husband, my parents, my friends. I woke up 5 days of the week for 9 years thinking about how I could do a good job, how I could improve the company. (Mr. SSC sidenote – I’d say it was closer to 7 days a week, she just doesn’t want to admit it) I’ve spent nights staring at well logs as wells are nearing their target, holidays on drilling rigs, I’ve even pumped breastmilk in a closet of a seismic boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. I have given them more of my energy and dedication than I have given anything before. And you know what – within days I will not exist for this company anymore. A few people will remember me, but to this corporation I am just a file to be closed out, and by the end of the month, I will be nothing but an ex-employee in a database. Meanwhile, I bet that I will think of this company every day for years and decades more. It makes all my time and effort seem insignificant. And with the amount of my life I have put into this job, that makes me feel like all that effort was for naught. Yes, yes, I have a nice bank account and my experience at that company helped land me my dream job… I’m just trying to make a point that while I poured myself into this company for years ahead of anything else in my life, I had a relatively small impact in the corporation.
This realization makes me think of how much of ourselves we pour into our jobs. We define ourselves by our work. There is something about our society where the first questions you ask someone at a party is “What do you do? Where do you work?” not “What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time? What makes you smile?” Asking such personal questions to a stranger would almost seem off-putting.
Anyways, all the thoughts just confirm for me that we have chosen the right path. The path of choosing family over luxury vehicles. Of spending quiet weekends at home watching our kids play with sticks instead of with endless toys we buy to ease our guilt of constantly working. We have found that what really makes us happy is connecting to one another. I love that the choices we started making a few years back make me feel alive. I don’t have to escape reality, or constantly ‘reward’ myself to make myself feel better after every work week. I am happy that we discovered the path to FI, we made a plan and we are getting close to reaching our goal.
I am also happy that we are far enough along on our FI journey, and have a big enough cushion that I can take a low-paying job that will challenge me, give me more free time with my kids, and allow us to have family dinners. I am just a little sad that I gave 9 years away before getting to take this next step in life. But I am glad that it was only 9 years I had to give. It feels so good to have my life back on my terms.