When someone treats you like an option, help them narrow their choices by removing yourself from the equation. It’s that simple.
It’s been a year since I officially bid farewell to my prior employer. I’d been there fourteen years and had no reason to assume I wouldn’t retire from there. The managing partner and I started working together over 30 years ago. I was a new legal secretary in California and he was a second-year associate. We worked at several law firms together until he opened his own practice in 2002. I was the go-to person. I was employee number two. (Employee number one had a last name starting with “V” and, therefore, beat me!) As the saying goes, “I knew where the bodies were buried.” The history, the people, the good, the bad, the stuff that mattered.
Then one day last June, I realized I had had enough. I just couldn’t work there any more. I took a stress leave of absence, went through group and individual counseling, increased my medication dosage, and learned useful meditation and mindfulness techniques.
Last September, at the end of my leave, I officially gave notice to my boss in-person and we parted ways. It was bittersweet and I went through a period of grieving. My ex-coworkers and ex-bosses perhaps also felt a sense of loss, making the same mental gear-shifts they needed to in order to reconcile not seeing me every day.
A big change for me meant a big change for them too. After all, I was practically a part of the furniture. Maybe they missed me and maybe they didn’t. I’ll never know.
Perhaps no one reached out because they were feeling anxious and awkward. Here I am, working on Friday afternoon, and not returning on Monday morning. So no one really knew what was happening, nor did I wish to tell them anything. Maybe we’d keep in touch via email or social networks, but that didn’t happen to me.
I know it’s normal to feel a bit of sadness when you leave colleagues and friends behind. Maybe they were pissed that I left. Or they were happy and proud of my change. Advice columns state: “Just do what you can to keep in contact. If you want to. Things will never be the same. That’s life.”
Indeed. Over the past year, I periodically would wonder about those ex-coworkers. And maybe they wondered about me too. But no more. As the year moved on, I thought about them less and less. And I’m sure they did the same.
I’ve made new acquaintances at this current job, and I’ve come to realize that working at age 60 is different than it was at 30. Remember when work was your main source of a social life? And now, while I’m friendly with folks at work, my social life and my work life don’t intersect. That’s just the way it is.