There was a quote I came across a few months ago, attributed to C.S. Lewis.
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
After I read it, I instantly liked it and felt it resonated with me. I have a tendency to fear the next step and making commitments to things happening in the future has always scared me. Maybe I’m scared of failure or the unknown, but it’s mainly apprehension that makes me want to stick with what I know. But as hokey as this may sound, reading this quote accompanied by the visual really inspired me.
So I sat on this idea for awhile.
In other parts of my life, I felt like I was already going outside of my comfort zone/box, starting with my first solo, spontaneous trip to Thailand. The area where I felt I was still afraid to leave “comfortable” and progress to the next step was in my career. I don’t think I could be a “lifer” somewhere but I really do get how staying put at a company for a long time has its advantages: comfort with your role and surroundings being one of the top reasons. It’s ironic though because I only took that spontaneous Thailand trip due to work stress and strife and feeling the need to take a breather from my hectic work life. Yet, it was a consistency in my life –I was there for three years– and it was really, really hard to actually make that move out of my company and position.
Don’t get me wrong: I still dreamed of going to a new job, maybe finding my niche in the world or finding my passion (I am passionate about online media and in particular, social media, but not really sure what role exactly suits me). I applied to jobs and interviewed while I was working at my previous job and though they never resulted in offers that I could accept, I always told myself it was “just for practice” and it’d have to be the right (read: majorly trump the current work situation) offer to have me go through with putting in my two weeks’ notice.
There were also times, towards the end, where I thought I was going to burnout. And at that time, out of frustration, I was telling anyone who’d listen that I was just going to quit without a job offer! I was at a low point and it wasn’t really pretty then.
Nonetheless, the fateful day I got an acceptable job offer, I initially hesitated. It was a different career move, one that would be less stressful than working in the world of sales, a different work culture (much, much smaller team), and for a few months, the commute would be horrible. But it was an exciting opportunity and I wanted to thoroughly consider it. After much mulling over, I decided to take the new job.
So here I am, remembering that “there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind”. But it’s hard to not look back and miss many, many things from my old job.
Things I miss
My work friends
I’ve made some good work friendships along the way in my various jobs prior to this one. But at this job, I liked almost everyone on a personal and professional level and quite a few, I’d considered not just “work friends”. We could talk and laugh about randomness, versus the typical water cooler conversations (ex. weather, weekend, work issues, etc). I could do stuff like create a “wall of shame” and photoshop people’s heads onto things without having people get offended (at least I don’t think so!). And [most] people got my sense of humour and embraced my quirkiness. I didn’t have to be as reserved or in my shell, somewhat, as I did in prior jobs.
There was a nice camaraderie there. Not saying it was all rainbows and sunshine, after all, it was mostly females there, but good times were had.
And from working in a large corporation and now going to a small, small organization, I miss that electic mix of personalities when there are so many people in different departments you can talk to.
Sure, leaving friends behind doesn’t mean I’ll never see them again but there’s much to be said about being surrounded by great people 5 days out of the week in your work life.
The small conveniences that made life easier
Holy crud, it used to take me 45-50 mins to get to work and I could do it with one bus and one super short subway ride. Now it takes about 1 hour and 20-30 mins one way! One time, it took 2 hours! The problem is also making sure that I make perfect connections because I make 4 changes (walk to bus, bus to RT, RT to subway, subway to another subway) and if anything is bottle-necked or there’s an unanticipated long wait, it totally throws me off my schedule. Luckily, this is only until I move into my new place (provided there are no more delays).
Another small, trivial thing I miss that made my life easier? Having my office building connected directly (indoors) to the subway. When I had a metropass, I didn’t even need to wear a jacket or step outside to go grab something for lunch.
The bathroom was also less of an ordeal. Years ago, I used to sit right by the women’s washroom (gross) but it was a washroom shared with only those in the company on that floor and it was definitely convenient. Now, it’s a bathroom shared with many individual offices, many with a steady stream of visitors, on the floor and yeah, it can get gross in there. Plus now it’s far away. I usually just avoid going to the bathroom for as long as possible.
I also miss using passcards to get in and out vs. a key.
I am used to having two monitors and I kind of miss having a second monitor.
I miss later start mornings.
I miss not having to smell the stench of urine in random places as I head into the office. I also miss not seeing as many homeless or panhandlers on my daily comings and goings and wanting to give some cash to them (there’s one lady who looks like she could be my grandmother and I feel horrible for her as she huddles in the cold in front of a Starbucks). I even feel bad when I don’t accept a copy of 24 Hours or Metro from someone having to freeze their butts off outside.
I miss having my own telephone line.
I miss eating lunch with people in the lunchroom. I miss having a lunchroom.
Without mentioning the company name, I’ll just say that it was publishing and there was a publication that involved food. So there was oftentimes food made for photoshoots, recipe testing, etc. My coworkers and I used to have a system where if one of us was on the floor where the kitchen is and spotted a dish being put out for us to try, we would let each other know and those privy to the info would flood down like pigs to a trough. Ah, the days of finding random baked goods or free lunch.
My sweet desk
I went from sitting in a pod with 3 other people by the bathroom to a single spot by the window. Let’s just say it took about 2 years of complaining about wanting to move to the window and waiting it out until someone left to get the spot. But check it out below, it had a great view (I could look out the window and look down to a park), tons of storage (I’m a bit of a hoarder), and had people around me. It didn’t have as many people to chat with around me as the 4 person pod area but I still loved my spot.
As alluded above, I love hoarding (I always say I could easily be featured on a TLC show about office hoarders). I like to put up pictures that make me smile or inspire me in my workspace, I like to surround myself with comforts of home like items to use, drink or eat at work. And most of all, I like free stuff and there was always a plethora of free stuff up for grabs at my old job like magazines, books, consumer products, marketing swag and so on — all because it was a magazine publisher with many consumer magazine titles and every so often, random things get thrown out to the masses. I remember the joys of wandering into the kitchen to use the photocopier and suddenly seeing a box filled with Gold Bond lotion or chocolate Cheerios up for grabs. Then there were the sales. Let me tell you about the sales. You could buy beauty products, lifestyle products, home and decor products all for a small fraction of the MRSP. It was like Black Friday in an American Wal-mart, I tell ya, but with slightly less elbowing. And because I’m a hoarder, I bought tons and a lot of it ended up sitting at work in and around my desk. Now, I have nothing really to hoard and nowhere to really put anything if I did have something to hoard.
Predictability and confidence in executing my responsibilities
Every day at my old job, I anticipated “fires” to put out and s**t hitting the fan. No, when I say predictability I don’t mean everything ran smoothly all the time. What I mean by predictable is that I was, in my opinion and some coworkers’ opinion, good at my job and I didn’t really have to go to work every day in fear of losing my job due to incompetence. I am not going to toot my own horn unnecessarily or say I never messed anything up but a good amount of my confidence in my role was a result of relevant experience from being there for so long (I was there for just 3 years but over there, it basically meant eternity). When you start a new job, there’s always uncertainty about whether you’re up to snuff and second-guessing your abilities.
Things I really like about my new job
The people are great
It’s a really small team and so far, in my 1.5 weeks there, I have really enjoyed working with everyone there. They are nice and laughs were had so it’s been good so far. It’s not the same sort of friendship as I had with people at my old job but that was after years of working together and I’m still new here.
I’m back downtown!
I used to work uptown which, on the positive side, was a quicker commute from my current home. But let’s face it: it is boring uptown vs. downtown. Now that I am downtown, I can have numerous lunch options and I can shop my butt off. I can also take up chasing food trucks around the downtown core or checking out events that happen during the lunch hour. Downside is that 1) it’s going to take a beating on my wallet 2) it’s much more difficult to go to the gym after work 3) see note above about god-awful commute 4) going onto the subway going southbound, you have to wrestle yourself into a subway packed like a sardine and same deal leaving work in the evening.
Fantastic learning experience
Every day I’ve been at this job, I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned more in my 1.5 weeks than I probably did at my old job for the 3 years (other than job/company specific learnings, whereas this is industry wide learnings). There were challenges at my old job -challenges of trying to do my job well with barricades or what resources were available to me- but there’s also a sense of complacency once you become too comfortable and you don’t necessarily get challenged. Learning new things = being more challenged career-wise. I feel like I am back in school with all the new stuff I have learned within my industry.
I can only say this preemptively but the new job so far seems less stressful than the quota/budget driven world of sales. In the last year and a half, I used to get so stressed out at times that my skin went nuts and I ended up looking like the people say I eat too many chocolate bars guy. Which, for me, never used to happen. Unfortunately, with the above mentioned beauty sales and hoarding, I ended up buying almost every acne product available on the market, thinking it would make things go back to normal. It didn’t. But leaving the job? That did.
Might be moving to the big leagues with an office soon
I might be getting my own office in a few months (currently in temporary seating at the reception desk). If that’s the case, this will be the second time I have had an office — the first time, I was promptly booted out to a regular seat within 2 weeks so I’m hoping this time it will be more permanent. I can maybe finally realize my dream of having a couch in my office to nap on! (I am totally kidding about the last part. If anything, I’d nap George Costanza style).
Nope, we’re downsizing into a smaller space and I will not have my own office. Current status of where I will be sitting = unknown.
Ultimatey, change is always a bit scary. It’s just that you have to look ahead to the “far, far better things” and live in that mindset. Granted, I will still miss things from my old job (particularly the people and my sweeettttt spot) but mustn’t dwell on the past, I tell myself.
I just wanted to write this list as a reminder, since I am afterall a big fan of the pro and con list (which coincidentally, was used to make my decision to take the job).