As I type the words I can’t quite believe I’m doing this. My fingers are shaking and my stomach churns. But the fact my cheeks still sting from the tears I cried last night reassures me that I’m doing the right thing.
‘I hereby give notice of my intention to leave…’
The words seem to protrude from the glowing monitor and question my reasoning.
The fact is, this is either the bravest or most bonkers-est thing I’ve ever done. Handing your notice in without another job to go to is for spotty seventeen-year-olds who are bored of their manager berating them for coming into their Saturday shift hungover, again. Sensible grown-ups with mortgages and forthcoming weddings don’t do this kind of thing. Yet somehow, as I walk to the train station to begin my long commute to work, I notice an uncharacteristic bounce in my step and a sense of optimism which I’ve not felt for a while. My wings are no longer clipped, I’m free to explore.
Granted, the recession, depression and other associated nouns are still biting hard and it may be difficult to walk straight into another role once my contract expires in three months time, but I’m not a snob and am quite happy to temp, or even work a more lowly job to tide us over in the meantime. Yes, it might be tough, and whilst I would rather wait until I have three months of salary saved up to protect me, in the same way that there’s never a ‘right time’ to have children, I don’t think I would ever find the right time to leave. We have enough to cushion us for a while as a couple.
The other factor is my current job makes me feel like shit. Simple as. If you feel like shit, it kind of dashes your confidence, and makes applying for other jobs a total struggle as you don’t feel worthy enough. Whilst having a definite end date adds pressure to me to find something it also lifts a weight off my shoulders knowing that I’m not stuck in ruttsville and focuses my mind on an targeted date (gee, it’s almost a SMART goal). I’m also hoping it makes me more attractive to future employers (I’m on an extortionately long (for my level) notice period of three months). Plus, it seems a more honest way of leaving. If you weren’t into a relationship anymore you wouldn’t go on lots of secret dates to find a suitable alternative before you ditched your current partner, so why should it be different with a job search?
Bottom line is I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. My boss summed it up well yesterday during one of my ‘now panic and freak out moments’. She said:
“At the moment you’re working at 150% capacity with your workload and you can’t keep that up. I want to relieve you of some of that pressure so that for a while you’re working to 70% capacity for a while.”
I’ve heard this said in a number of different ways over the past two years. “I know it’s crap now; but it will get better” is another favourite (from another boss (I’m on manager number six and i’ve only been there four years, which should give you an idea of what a crap place it is to work)). Do you know what… It never does get better, I just wind up being overworked, feeling like crap because I can’t achieve everything which I feel is expected of me, yet is impossible. I’ve been off with stress in the past and most of my absence record is made up of stress related illness, yet nothing ever gets done to help me, despite my pleas that I have too much to do.
I looked around the office yesterday and noticed a common site. Divorced women with children who they never see. The same women who are getting by on chocolate and coffee at work and downing a bottle of wine, whilst still ploughing through work on the evening. Do you know what? I have no desire to become that person.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just not strong enough to take the pressure. Whatever it is, the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I’ve been doing that for four years now. It’s time to leave that behind before it really drives me crazy. Now just to tell my boss…