Have you ever had the thought or desire to change your job? Start completely afresh somewhere else. Do something different from anything you have ever done before? Or maybe your time in your current job has come to an abrupt end and you can’t ever see yourself happy in any other workplace. I imagine there are a lot of people who answer yes to those questions. I think most of us would have had the “thought” of what leaving a job would be like but how many act on it would be a different matter. Well, I did all of the above. At the age of 50. Twice. And I am here to tell you it was not easy at all. Not one little bit. But was it worth it? Did it work out?
I had worked at the same place on and off for 11 years. One of my dear friends got me an interview for a Receptionist position. Oh, how I loved it. The people, the patients, my job and how my responsibilities evolved over that time. To get up and like going to your workplace is such a gift and I had that. It was a fabulous environment and most of the friendships formed during that time I still hold dear today. Yes during the three month probation period there I was going to resign every day. I am a perfectionist and I hated feeling “dumb.” Learning something new and being out of my comfort zone was challenging for my personality type. The type that has no patience whatsoever. However, I didn’t. I ended up loving it and I was actually pretty good at what I did.
For reasons that no long matter I found myself in the position where resigning from that job last year was the only option I felt I had and I was very sad and displaced for quite some time. I was really invested in the business and the people there. When you put your heart and soul into something you are richly rewarded but you also leave yourself open to being let down.
The same dear friend knew my confidence had taken a big nose dive and she offered me a lifeline. She worked in a similar environment and there was an opening there that she thought I would be a good fit for.
Part 1 of starting over began.
It was challenging getting up each day let alone tackling something new. My breast cancer treatment that I was 17 months into was causing terrible side effects, in particular, severe nausea. So throw in a case of nerves, very early morning starts and a fast paced working environment, well let’s just say it was not easy. Again I was so lucky to meet the most fabulous, supportive group of girls who looked after me and encouraged me to stick with it. However, after four months I just knew in my heart that it wasn’t for me at the stage I was at both physically and emotionally. I was about to take my beloved Dads ashes back to the Isle of Wight, England so I decided to leave before going on leave and start the job hunt again on my return.
Casually browsing the Job Vacancies online, I really wasn’t looking seriously, as I said I wanted to wait till I got back from England, I came across an ad that I just kept going back to. It had such warmth and sincerity about it. It was a small business and it sounded like something I could become invested in again. It was in an area I knew nothing about, the closing date for applications was only a few days away but something made me apply.
It was quite a long online process, one of those personality type testing questionnaires together with attaching your CV and the obligatory cover letter. I felt I could write a more personalised, honest cover letter given the vibe I got from the ad. Turned out to be a very good decision.
I received an email requesting a phone interview, had said phone interview which, when I hung up the phone I said to Andrew, “That went so well. I felt like I was chatting with a girlfriend.” A face to face interview was organised for the next day and I was proudly advised that “My Dad will be interviewing with me too. Hope you don’t mind, he works with me and I refer to him as Dad because he is.” Having lost my Dad I felt it was another good omen that I could potentially be working with an obviously close father and daughter duo.
The interview went well but I got a good feeling from the moment I sat in the waiting room. The girl on the reception desk looked like Donna from my favourite series Suits; I tried not to stare lol. With my trip to England only a week away I had to advise I would be unable to start for a few weeks. They asked about my “holiday” and when I told them the reason for the trip they were just so lovely and compassionate. I left there thinking it could not have gone any better. They said they would be in touch in a few days.
Well, my fabulous referees were contacted immediately and both let me know that they thought I would get the job. Sure enough, I didn’t end up having to wait days, I got the phone call to offer me the position where I was quickly told that I must have paid large sums of money to my referees for them to talk about me the way they did. I loved that cheeky comment and accepted the job happily.
Part 2 of starting over began.
Starting this job was the same as the last job, major nerves, severe nausea, increased bone pain, later starts but some additional emotional baggage from my trip to England. All of my Dad was “gone” now, on the other side of the world, it was a funny feeling for a while. So, Fan-tas-tic!!!!! What a great recipe for starting something new.
All the staff were just lovely and I had no doubt in my mind at all about how lucky I was to be working with such a nice group but my insecurities and self-doubt were just off the scale. It did not help that the girl who was employed to job share with me had started two weeks earlier and had picked it all up so fast. She was and still is a pocket rocket and I think she is fabulous.
So I would take lots of drugs, copious amounts of notes, and try and listen and take in what I was being shown, all the while trying not to vomit. I would trudge across the road every lunch time to the local bakery and sit in the corner and cry. I would text my friends saying I can’t do this not realising that “Donna” was wondering if I was ever coming back from lunch. I agonised over telling them my health issues. Would they want to get rid of me if they knew? Would it make them understand my struggles? Did I want them to know my struggles? This went on for weeks. Each day I would drive home in tears, overwhelmed with how much I had to learn. Convinced that “Donna” was thinking “who is this dipshit.” I know now she is far too kind-hearted to think that of anyone. But I felt so old and slow.
Andrew and a few friends finally said to me you have got to tell them. Just be honest. I felt like my boss must have been disappointed in me. On paper, I looked great but I wasn’t delivering what they thought they had “bought.” So eventually I thought if they knew of my health struggles it might be a bit of an “Aha” moment for them. Would you believe though that on the two occasions that I plucked up the courage to tell them two staff members announced they were pregnant? I kid you not. For such a small staff it was quite unbelievable. So I would come home each time with the weight of the world still on my shoulders. On one occasion I vomited on the way home from the stress.
So, unbelievably the day I went to my boss and said “I have something to tell you” she replied with “I know what you are going to say.” Ummmm, no you don’t I thought to myself. Did she think I was going to announce I was pregnant too?? She said “Lory, we know about the breast cancer. One of your referees let it accidentally slip. We have watched you struggle and we have been waiting for you to come to us. We couldn’t ask you about it because it was not something you shared with us.” Bloody hell. Are you kidding me? I put my head on her desk. Actually, I am surprised my head did not roll off given the weight that I felt had just been relieved off my shoulders.
So with all my cards on the table, and with even more encouragement and understanding given to me, my confidence did pick up. Only a little though. It is still taking time to build up but it is, each day it grows. Because let me tell you it is really, really hard to learn something completely new in every way. From the phone, to the email, to the computer program to the terminology used daily, there is not one thing about this job that is remotely similar to any job I have ever had. Add in the fact that I am working 2 days on 5 days off it’s like I am starting a brand new job every week. To be honest it hasn’t been until this week that things have really started to “click.” I also found out on Wednesday that the medication I have been on SEVERELY affects your memory and your ability to retain information. OMG! What a revelation. It was like part validation for why I found learning something new so hard.
But you know what? If I can do it, with the additional issues I have, anyone can. If you surround yourself with the right people you can achieve great things. I have done that, I have found a new work family. I didn’t think that was possible. We are firm friends and dedicated work colleagues. We laugh so much. They are all so invested in providing care above and beyond to all their clients that it is something one can feel really proud to be a part of. They put their trust and faith in me that I could succeed and for that, I will be forever grateful, and I look forward to paying that back to them for many years to come.
Change is so hard, particularly for a control freak like me but change can be so good. If you are unhappy, burnt out or feel like you are underappreciated where you are take a risk. Take that leap of faith. We spend so much of our time at work we must make that time as enjoyable as possible.
When I resigned from my original job I could not see any reason as to why it had to happen the way it did. But that one decision to leave led me to where I am today. It was all meant to be and I could not be happier.
It took me awhile to stop looking back but now it’s just full steam ahead.
So, did it work out? Absolutely.