Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lasts and firsts

Three years, five months and twenty days ago, I started a new job.

Today is my last day.

Now I purposely don't talk much about my job on this blog because it's boring. But I'm going to break that rule today because I am feeling a little bit, well... I actually don't know how I am feeling. I am just feeling. So humour me a little bit cause it's probably going to be a long day.

If you ask most people close to me, they will probably tell you that the last three and (almost) a half years have taken a toll on me, and that it is time that I move on. Certainly, my husband can tell you about all the sleepless nights that I have spent, unable to shut off my brain because I could not stop worrying about deadlines and backlogs and problems to fix and media interviews to give and briefings to the Minister and notes to write and and and.... My best girlfriends can't count high enough to track all of the pins that they have received from me over this period, desperately begging them to go for a drink with me after work so that I could unload about my "bad day at the office" (and I should say, not because they are not good at math, but because I really have sent a lot of those things!). And my colleagues and boss will probably tell you that, especially for the past few months, I've been a little too snippy in meetings, a sure fire sign that this normally pretty cheerful girl is getting tired and cranky.

So you would think that I would be running around doing cartwheels this morning, completely ready to move forward to bigger and better things. Plus, my new job is a promotion, so I should be doubly happy, right?


Not so fast.

The thing is that I have had some truly awful days at the office over the past three and (almost) a half years, but I have also had some truly remarkable days. Some big victories, in fact. Victories that I am pretty damn proud of, if I do say so myself. Going from something that I am successful at to something that I don't know yet is sort of kind of scary!

Plus there are the people. I have a pretty incredible team in my current job. And because we have worked on a fairly high-priority file together, I feel like we are a little bit closer than your average team. I'm not good at good-byes, so I'm bracing myself for an emotional day.

And then there is all of those incredibly great experiences that I have had over the past three and (almost) a half years. Things that at the time, were incredibly difficult to deal with and caused no end of stress, frustration and sleepless nights, but that, in retrospect, mark my most significant growth moments. Like being called as an expert witness in a court trial for the first time. Or giving my first media interview. Things I really didn't want to do at the time but that I now look upon fondly as amazing experiences that I am lucky to have had.

Yes, this job has been incredibly difficult and challenging, stressful and frustrating, and it has kept me up far too many nights. But my mentor once reminded me that other important things in my life have kept me up at night. Like my kitchen reno. Or planning for my wedding. I'm just the kind of person who has trouble unplugging from those things that matter to me the most. And as a career-driven woman, my job is just one of those things.

Which means that this new job will likely be incredibly difficult and challenging, stressful and frustrating, and it too will likely keep me up at night. Because that is how I roll.

The fact is that it is very difficult for me to separate personal Jay from professional Jay. And that's because my career is an important part of my identity. I am masochistically proud of myself when I work on insanely difficult problems and then fix them. I seek out challenges that everyone else is smart enough to turn away from. And I push myself forward constantly in my drive to always find work that allows me to make a difference in peoples' lives.

So today I will go in and say goodbye to everyone, likely with a few tears and kleenex. Then I will take some time off. And then, just as all the little kiddies are going back to school, I will start a brand new job. With brand new challenges. And brand new stress. And brand new things to keep me awake at night.

Maybe I'll feel better if I go buy myself a new outfit for my first day?