Welp. I did it. I gave notice at my job.
A quick Google search shows that the average person will hold 10 jobs before the age of 40. Apart from a quick jaunt in Florida when I worked slinging seafood at a restaurant on the docks for a year, this was my first job out of college. 11 years.
I might be old, but damn if I’m not loyal.
The usual reaction of accepting a position at a new company is one of elation. And I definitely feel the joy. After working my way up in my current company, I’m in a role where the ladder metaphorically ends. And while I love what I do, I’m really ready for a change of scenery.
But it wouldn’t be me without a little hesitation making space in my brain.
And it isn’t hesitation about the new job because I’m really looking forward to the new pace and challenges. It’s just the reluctance to step out of my cozy little comfort zone.
Have you read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”?
Those who read it (and didn’t just cheat and watch the movie – looking at you, husband) might remember the odd ending of the story. Tolkien finally (after, like, 6,000 pages) offers up the thrilling apex (I won’t spoil it, but please come out from behind that rock if you have no idea what happens to Frodo). And then it’s like he can’t end it.
The last chapter feels like a strange addition to a perfectly fine house. The hobbits return to a Shire that has been set ablaze. After we just followed Frodo and Sam through 800 pages of torture, shit has again hit the fan, but in a weird and anticlimactic way.
But I know why. Or…I think I do, ‘cuz I mean, I don’t know the guy obvs.
J.R.R. Tolkien took nearly two decades to craft this novel. He invented languages and cultures and illustrated insanely detailed maps. These characters became a part of his daily life. Once the pinnacle of the story finally passed, he couldn’t close the door.
That’s my struggle. I’m not a sentimental person in the way of material things. I haven’t made a baby book for Fox (his hospital bracelet and prized drawings are sitting in a grocery bag in a closet somewhere). I purge items without getting weepy about the memories they hold. It’s just not my thing to hold on to the “stuff.”
But hot damn I’m a nostalgic mess when it comes to the chapters in my life. Songs, smells, odd feelings will catapult me back to various times, and I’ll find myself startled and desperate to hang on to the fleeting memory.
Not long after I gave my notice, I was perusing Facebook and “liked” my college’s page. It was weird to scroll through the institution’s newsfeed and see images that felt so familiar, but also notice changes that were after my time.
I realized that I never really went back. I don’t attend Homecoming. I drive to Chicago regularly enough, but very rarely stop in the town to drive past the school. And I think it’s because there’s this weird sadness and aching nostalgia that comes along with visiting. The place doesn’t “belong” to me anymore.
My memories are built into the walls of that school, but the students who now share the huge loft at the top of one of the dorms where I spent my sophomore year
partying studying have no idea that we plugged 2 refrigerators and 8 strands of twinkle lights together in one long extension line, effectively making us quite possibly the biggest fire hazard on campus. The new inhabitants of my junior dorm don’t see the Bob Marley and Grateful Dead tapestries on the wall and have no idea that our main goal each weekend was to come up with new drinking game rules. (I promise I studied too…).
Going back is hard for me because the only thing of me that existed in these spaces is the memories.
I have some really wonderful coworkers who I will miss dearly, and a few have become dear friends who will be in my life long past these workdays. And along with the fun, this job has been constant as I matured from an inexperienced 20-something-year-old who worked to pay for cheap rum on the weekends to a much more responsible adult who has really valued the big accomplishments and hard lessons along the way.
I know it’s my time to go. And I know that this door shutting is really an open window for me to go on and use my skills in an exciting way.
Ten years from now I’ll have quick snapshots of memories that will remind me of my days spent at this company, and I’ll reminisce fondly.
But for now, as I imagine Tolkien felt, sometimes these big chapters are just slightly tough to close.