In her former life, Emily “Gynomite” Gordon was a couples and family therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states. In this life, she’s a freelance fighter of your emotional woes with Ask Gynomite. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. Today, Gynomite takes on leaving a job, and life transitions in general.
I’m preparing to leave the first job that I’ve had that I love. I work at my local library as the technology assistant. My job responsibilities pretty much boil down to helping patrons with their questions while on our public computers and adding paper to the printer when it’s out. It’s a nice job to see people I help actually appreciate the help I give since most of our patrons our elderly or just not that computer savvy. I’ve even had a couple ask me to help set up their computer network at their house before (of course I said no).
It’s a great job, the only bad thing is that it’s part time and because of my title I can’t have a lot of work from my supervisor given to me basically making it a dead end job. I can’t be given more hours and the tasks my supervisor could give me require me to leave my desk for long periods of time. I know I would have to leave the library eventually and just put in my two weeks notice after accepting a full time position elsewhere. When I think about leaving though, it really upsets me, almost to the point of tears. I’ve tried describing it to friends and family and eventually came to the conclusion that this could be something similar to what the 10th Doctor must of felt like in the End of Time. That whole movie/episodes he was prepared and accepted that he was going to die and in the end realized he didn’t want to regenerate. (It’s a strange reference but it’s really the only thing I can think of that really sums up hour I feel about leaving.)
I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what is the healing process for something like this? How does one really recover from leaving a job they really loved to take that next step into adult hood? I know I’ll eventually get over the initial sadness, but is there anything mentally I could do to make it where I won’t really feel like I’m trapped in a job I dislike?
Wow, nice Doctor Who analogy! I’m a huge fan of analogies, and I got exactly what you meant from that one. I might steal it, in fact, but I’ll try and credit you. Ahem, onto your concerns…
It can be incredibly hard to leave a job, especially one that you’ve enjoyed and gotten satisfaction from. It sounds like you loved your job and you loved the fact that you could see the effect you were having, which is essential to any good job. If you can’t see how you are directly making progress, you start feeling like a weirdo cog in a gross machine.
I left a job I loved once too, for the right, grownup reasons, and it was very hard. It left a bit of a hole in my heart, and to me, it felt like (not as good as an analogy as yours) when you come home from a family vacation or summer camp as a kid, and you go from having a bunch of people around you all the time to just having your immediate family clanging around in your house, and you’re filled with this bittersweet loneliness for a few days. This hole stuck around for a few weeks, and was soon filled with my next job, with other day to day tasks, with life. Matter loves a void.
The best things to do during this transition time are to make any personal connections you want to keep at your current job until you leave, to keep talking to your friends and family, and between jobs, fill your days with engaging, distracting activities. Face your new job with optimism and eagerness.
But I feel like this is about more than just the job. It feels like you’re mourning your carefree semi-adulthood as you move into a “real job”. And if that’s the case, that’s totally hurty too and I get it. Moving away from something you enjoy because it isn’t giving you enough in the long term is the definition of adulthood, and adulthood can suck sometimes.
The only thing that can fix all this stuff is time, and staying as honest with yourself as you have been so far. You will clearly continue to need an outlet where you can feel helpful, where you can feel effective, and where you can make personal connections with people. Perhaps your new job will provide this, but maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t, you should look for other outlets to provide these things for you- volunteering, making more time for friends, etc. Not every job can be perfect- your library job wasn’t perfect either, it didn’t pay you enough, it was “dead end”, etc. Don’t feel let down if your new job provides you with money and opportunity for advancement but no personal connections- look to fulfill that in yourself regardless.
You sound like you have a big heart and a sharp mind, and I bet you’ll do well where ever you go. Good luck to you.