The past year was a big one for me and my family.
Things had been going downhill steadily at my old job for a while. When I was out on maternity leave in late 2016, the situation got even worse. I didn’t really want to go back when my leave was over. So at the beginning of 2017 I was stressed, dreading each work day, and really down that none of the applications I’d submitted while on leave had amounted to anything.
I made it to the second interview round at one college I really wanted to work for, but no further, and that left me in a funk for a few months. Then I dusted myself off, revised my resume again, and got back at it.
My friends and family kept me going during that time. My friends listened, gave me advice, met up for lunch or drinks, encouraged me not to give up, and discouraged me from lighting anyone’s office on fire (I jest!). My kids have always brought me joy cloaked in their delightful insanity. My husband and my mom were there to listen to me rant for the billionth time and to support me in my job search.
At work I was being micromanaged nonstop, and on top of that, the people who worked for me were being treated like crap by the organization at large. There was this ugly cultural shift over a span of years where people were just devalued, treated like replaceable parts, and disrespected. When we complained, the response was always some variation of the theme “You’re lucky to have this job.”
I tried to do what I could to help, but there was only so much I could do without backlash. Many of my close colleagues were in a similar state of paranoia to mine, and some of us spent nearly as much time documenting the dysfunction (to cover our asses— it didn’t actually improve anything) as we did getting work done.
All my passwords at the office were things like 9thRing0fh3ll and Pl@n0f3gr3ss and Justfuck@lly@ll.
I was willing to take any job that would pay living expenses, but I had to have benefits. When a family member has life-threatening allergies, access to an emergency room is a must-have.
When I finally did get a job offer, though, it wasn’t just any job. It was a great job. I felt like I’d won the lottery. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling I had when I realized I was being offered the job on the phone. I felt so much lighter I thought I would float up off the floor, and I was grinning so hard my face nearly cracked. Dan saw me through the doorway and he knew before I got off the phone.
Suddenly we had a couple months to fix up our house and sell it, find a place to rent, hire movers, pack up over a decade’s worth of accumulated stuff, and move three states away.
I had a week to unpack, settle in, and find my way around a new giant city and campus before I started work.
It was stressful. But it was nowhere near as stressful as staying put. Running like hell from a bad situation was motivating enough, but I am so grateful I found a better situation to run toward.
I didn’t believe it was real for a long time, either. I was a ball of nerves until I got my offer letter. Then again until my references went through, my background check was complete, the lease was signed, the movers arranged…all the way up until my first day at my new job.
I miss all the friends and coworkers I had to leave behind, but I am so much happier in my new situation. Work stays at work. I can relax a lot more. I’m learning a lot, and I will even have the opportunity to go back to school eventually, but that’s crazy-talk until my baby is older and more independent.
It was a good year to shake the ant farm. I’m looking forward to learning my new job and settling into my new city in 2018.