It seems like I have been engaged in this process of Leaving for a ridiculously long time. It’s been three months since I handed in my notice, and I’d almost got used to operating in a kind of in-between state of still being there but also going. It’s only now that I can genuinely say I am starting to feel nervous. I am actually quite scared of the unknown, and even though I keep telling people I think I will be ok (sometimes more to convince myself), I’m feeling the fear now. All the ‘what if’ questions I wrote about a few weeks ago in my post on Fear are resurfacing. My internal organs are doing the lindy hop. This is it, I’m in my last week at work and I can’t go back and change my mind now!
It’s strange, this business of Leaving. Part of me would just like to slip out the back door without anyone noticing, and part of me wants to hire a marching band to accompany me to the office on my last day to mark the occasion. Having already had three leaving do’s in various parts of the country, I’m obviously not doing a great job of slipping out of the back door quietly. To be honest, even though I am not very comfortable being at the centre of attention, and I really hate actually saying goodbye to people, and I am terrible at receiving compliments, the whole process of getting leaving cards and baking cakes for the office and regularly exceeding my recommended weekly number of alcohol units has been quite nice. I tell myself to be unapologetic about it: it has been 10 years, after all.
A colleague asked me recently what other jobs I’d had, which made me realise that pretty much my entire experience of Work has been with this one employer. I came in as a temp straight from university, and although I’ve had various roles and various bosses in the last 10 years, I’ve never properly worked anywhere else. So it really is about time I broadened my horizons a bit.
A couple of weeks ago I was part of the interview panel to recruit my replacement – a slightly surreal experience. I was struck by how well-qualified and confident some of the candidates were, and how they presented themselves way better than I think I could ever manage. I’m glad to know that a competent and likeable person is taking over from me, of course, but I also worry she will do a much better job than me.
What if she did though? I have to come to terms with the fact that it really doesn’t matter what happens after I leave. People might discover something I handed over badly and curse me. My successor might be so brilliant that people wonder why they kept me in the job so long. People might laugh remembering my many idiosyncrasies. The truth is, they will probably forget all about me pretty quickly. And that’s ok. Hopefully I will manage to move on equally quickly, and won’t spend the next six months wallowing in wistful longing for my old job. Being ridiculously sentimental, I will probably have the odd pang of nostalgia – but more than likely I will be so distracted with new experiences and impressions that those 10 years will start to feel like ancient history.