After several months of thinking about it, I finally handed in my notice on Thursday 9th January. As the end of the Christmas break loomed, I experienced increasingly frequent jolts of nervous adrenaline-fuelled butterflies every time I thought about ‘doing the deed’. I had fantasised about it so often in the past few months, mostly at the times where my job was particularly frustrating, that it seemed almost a bit unreal when I actually had to do it.
You know when you have an important meeting or speech or something to tell someone, and you go over it in your head beforehand so it sounds coherent and well-considered and balanced, but then you over-rehearse it so that at the moment you actually have to say it all that comes out is “ehm-argh-ehm-sowhatIwantedtosaywas-ehm-ehm-IjustthoughtIoughttotellyouthat-ehm-urgh”? It wasn’t quite as bad as that, but it was certainly less momentous and profound than I thought it was going to be. I remembered to say the bit about appreciating what the company had given me in terms of opportunities to develop myself, and that it was a decision not taken lightly, both of which are true. I remembered not to say the bit about feeling sometimes that my soul is dying inside me, which is also true. I didn’t take my trousers off and dance around the office in my underpants laughing hysterically and shouting “so long, suckers!”.
Afterwards, I mainly felt relieved. I could finally tell people at work about the plans I had been discussing with friends and family for several months. I sent a few emails out with the news, and got some lovely responses. I made a couple of announcements in the ‘any other business’ bits of a couple of meetings. And then, things sort of went back to normal.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, really: that the act of my resignation would somehow bring about a seismic shift so huge that its impact would be noticeable on a daily basis? Naturally, I now get people asking me when I am leaving, and what I’m planning to do, and I’m able to legitimately take slightly less of an interest in work things which are scheduled to happen beyond April. The latter is quite satisfying, I have to admit, even if the thought ‘someone else will have to deal with that’ isn’t always very charitable.
But mainly, the experience taught me that even those things which you think are enormous life decisions bordering on the impossible can actually be perfectly possible, even mundanely normal. If you want to resign after 10 years to see what else might be out there, you can just do it! Just like that! You just knock on your boss’s door and say “I’d like to resign please”, and then you write a letter to Human Resources, and that’s it! You’re free!
How curious that we humans allow ourselves to be so conditioned by societal ‘norms’ that we end up thinking there is only one way of doing things: one way of progressing our lives. That things like financial stability, marriage, working fulltime, earning money to buy consumer goods, procreating, earning more money so you can buy consumer goods for your offspring, investing in property, earning yet more money so you can save for an early retirement and go on a cruise, are the milestones we all have to chase. In reality, there are many more ways to do things, and not reaching those milestones by a certain time doesn’t mean that you have somehow failed at the Game of Life.
And although I am as susceptible as most to those societal norms, and frequently worried by my own perceived failure at the Game of Life, my own small act of doing things differently is already making me wonder what other enormous impossible things might actually be perfectly possible.