Final Thoughts: Ending an Era

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Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash

So, I was just flicking through my Instagram posts and back in January I posted a caption that said Here’s to stepping more outside the ol’ comfort zone in 2020” Well in more ways than one 2020 has thrown me a ton of uncomfortable situations. The most recent being taking voluntary redundancy from my job. I’ve just received my last pay and there is a certain finality about that. Seeing the words “termination” and now not having any connection to the company at all. For some people it was ‘just a job’ but it was more than that at times for me. There was a family and community environment about it. In the early days you felt like you were contributing to a higher purpose. You were incredibly valued. I was eighteen years old when I started there and I remember thinking when I applied that I would just stay there for six months, earn enough money to pay for University and then be on my merry way. I ended up staying with the company for eighteen years. That’s exactly half of my life at this point in time. It is indeed an end of an era.

While I hadn’t planned on leaving in 2020 — when the restructure was announced, voluntary redundancy seemed like the best option for me to take. Increasingly over the years, my values had changed and diverged from the company, and indeed my enthusiasm for the job certainly had waned. Don’t get me wrong, there were things about the job that I loved, but when I looked at the new alignment I felt straight away that there was no place for me there. It was one of the worst feelings in the world to feel alone and on the outside of a company that had been such a huge part of my life. The company itself has changed as you would expect over that period of time and it is definitely not the one I signed onto and stayed all those years for. The dynamic and inspirational leaders that were once there have either moved on or been swallowed up by the excessive bureaucracy. The culture of the company is certainly a shadow of its former self; where empathy and integrity are now minor values, where profits come before people. But I digress. As disillusioned as I am about the way they conducted the process, this is perhaps not the time and place to dwell on it.

I suppose during this last week — I found myself wondering if it had all been a waste of time. How much of my life I had wasted there. How much time and energy and commitment I had given them and whether those sacrifices had been worth it. It’s certain the big wigs couldn’t care less about what I had done in my years there, and they won’t care at all about what is in my future. I remember explaining it to a friend of mine as a “nothing job”. We weren’t saving lives or having huge impact on people. We turned up, did what we were told and took the paycheck. But still, at one point I was extremely passionate about my work there and the standards I could deliver to my managers, the team around me and the customers we had. I do wonder if I am now to old to be pivoting into another job, career, profession?

To be fair, I’m not short of qualifications or experience in other industries, but this is a tough time globally for everyone looking for work. When I took the voluntary redundancy of course I had a plan of how my bills would get paid and how I would survive financially, but I can’t say I figured out what I was actually going to do with my life. Self confidence and self worth have always been limiting beliefs for me and it’s probably why I spent so long staying comfortable in that job. It was something I could do in my sleep. I was very good at it, and I was never challenged. I can only think back to that first meeting and how defeated I felt after that. I pretty much went through all the stages of grief — the anger, resentment, sadness, and then hope. Hope that there was perhaps an opportunity for me. That perhaps it would be the push I needed to find passion and purpose in my work again. That maybe I could find something that did impact people. I’m a huge believer that personal growth happens in those tough and challenging moments and so I guess this is just one of those times you have to face the fear and jump anyway. Trust that things will be okay in the end and that this is leading you down a path that will either lead you to the gold or teach you something you absolutely needed to learn. And so I end this part of my life and career, not fully turning my back on it or burying it as if it never existed — but instead cherish the friendships and connections I made, the experiences I had and the lessons that I learned. You do grow up and change a lot in eighteen years. It is the end of an era, yes, but also the start of a new chapter. Wherever that takes me.

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