I don’t know why I’m writing about this. I’ve been taking a hiatus from writing, mainly other stress and fear of writing less than mediocre content, and I don’t want to write only my mental illness or negative things… Nevertheless, here I am, writing about my current situation like this is my diary. Ironic.
This ended up stupid long though, sorry about that. I think we see these numbers on the news of people being unemployed with COVID-19 but it hits different when it’s you. It was therapeutic to write about my career and personal life, which is probably why it’s so lengthy. You can skip the mushy parts by scrolling through to almost the bottom and starting at the asterisk (*) and there’s a TL;DR at the bottom, because I get it. No hard feelings, homie.
I’ve been at the [company] for 6 years and change. I started at this company as a nervous 20 year old (seriously my first employee picture was taken on my 20th birthday). I grew up with this company, my mother works for this same company, in the same center I started in. I grew up listening to my mom work. I grew up helping her prepare and plan celebrations and client visits. This company felt like home to me. Some colleagues became my patchwork family. I met my husband because of my work family. My old supervisor is my brother in law. My sister met her husband at this company. There are people who work for this company that have known me since I was 8 years old, and even after many retire or move on, they are still my family. I will always have love for them.
I started this career of mine with the energy of a single 20 year old whose single minded objective was to make my team and boss(es) proud. I did a lot of that, and I made mistakes, and I learned how to do better, how to apologize and have Crucial Conversations. I grew into a stage 2 young adult. Of course dynamics change as you change. After 2 years I wanted more. As it became my own career that I was truly taking the reigns on (and the jump!) I applied for a higher position went to another campus. I worked my tail end off to prove myself and learn everything I could get my hands on. Which was a lot, the company offered a plethora of products and technology is booming! I won’t go into details because the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.
I spent 3 lovely years in a wonderful group at the new campus. I got married and had my first ever child. All of which they celebrated with me. I made friends, lost friends, remade some, and burned bridges with others. I lost a lot of family in those three years and I was reminded of loss. I lost what relationship I did have with my father in those 3 years. The strong, God fearing, women on that team always offered support when needed while I picked up the pieces of my breakdown. While the guys on our team offered their point of view and helped me keep my wits about me, too. They prayed with me, for me. They all came to my wedding and celebrated my happiness as their own. They jumped up and down when I announced I was pregnant. They were just as excited as I was on ultrasound days. They got that beautiful look in their eyes when they met my son face to face. They got that same look every time they saw him, actually. They shined with pride when I found my passion on that team (chip card!) and I learned it, then I taught it to anyone who wanted it. I found family in an unexpected place! I grew into a stage 1 adult with these people.
After coming back from maternity leave and finally settling into a groove (about 3 months), I was notified that I was being moved to a new team in the technology side of my division. Talk about the opportunity of a life time because I was planning on applying for said position after taking more training.
I don’t know if I can adequately explain the emotions I felt about this new position. I was sad at the thought of moving to a new team much like new school jitters. But I knew I was ready for more and I knew I wanted to move towards technology. The old me, the childless me, that got plenty of sleep, she was doing the Rocky style celebration. Then there’s the new me, who is on no medication at all (ADHD), new mom, still breastfeeding, sleep deprived, can’t have too much caffeine because it gives my kid gas that keeps him up screaming until 4 am. This new me questioned if I could even do this. I can’t think straight often (ADHD) and I need to learn a whole new job, which requires adequate attention and concentration. But I can’t turn it down. (figuratively and literally, my group was for a legacy system that was fading away soon).
I went back and forth and eventually just said I’d do the very best that I can. I’ll be honest and open in communication. Failure is not an option. And most importantly, I was excited!
I was suddenly in the position of learning all new things on the fly while dealing with mom brain. I was a new me that I’d never had to work with before. My hormones had changed, my ADHD had even changed, anxiety and depression symptoms had mostly disappeared after postpartum. Not to mention, I’m a new mom, every thing that goes wrong with my kid is for the first time ever and I tell you! That first year is terrifying. First fevers, sicknesses, teeth, injuries. All while still trying to maintain a milk supply because I swore I’d make it to a year!!!! So I’m planning pumping sessions around meetings and trying to not stray from a schedule too much because, well, supply and demand. Have you ever experienced that deadly silence after your breast pump makes its presence known on a conference call?
I learned my new team, though. Talk about amazing people. Seriously, that is my greatest sadness, I will miss them dearly. I’ve never seen people weave together and cover the gaps the way my teammates did. Even with their own hair on fire they made sure to pat out your flames. The new job was a lot to learn. I mean a lot. And it was stressful. The all hands on deck in the blink of an eye, you better know who to call, not it’s not ghostbusters, please don’t leave me on this call alone yet, kind of stress. In the midst of this chaos I met some of the strongest, most caring, and hardworking people in my life. I’ve never laughed so hard or learned so much. If I were going to walk thru hell, I’d want them on my team.
I started to figure it out. I started to feel confident I knew the bulk of what I was doing. I found the rhythm and I was finally dancing to it. I was even enjoying the dance. It took 8-9months but I found my groove.
Then COVID -19 hit. (Record scratch) The daycare centers closed up, the campuses closed up. We all transitioned to working from home and taking care of our children by March 15th.
It sounds easy enough when you say it out loud. “I’m working from home with my toddler”. Pleasing for short conversation, simple answer. But if we weren’t socially distant, you’d see the barely contained chaos in their eyes. Fear, guilt, stress stress stress, feeling overwhelmed, and at many points, despair.
At least that was the case for me. That’s why I’m here, writing this blog bit about quitting my job. Because I had to quit the day before yesterday.
I juggled the weight of being mom, cook, maid, teacher, AND employee. I juggled it all through anxiety and increasing panic attacks. Crying episodes. Depression. Weight loss from the stress (I lost 50 lbs in 4 months). Then, came the suicidal thoughts that were my line in the sand. They became too loud and I had finally had enough.
I took 3 weeks off. I felt human after 3 weeks off. I could breathe. Anxiety stopped about 1/2 way through. I felt sane again, so I started work again. I tried to find routines and schedules that would work for my job and my toddler. None of them worked, the two subjects were both too variable in nature. Something always came up that I just couldn’t settle. I could get a handle for 3 days then everything would crumble. I would rebuild stability when my husband was home. But that meant no downtime for me, so I couldn’t always do that, but I also couldn’t just not do my job. I think I lasted another 2 weeks before it got to scary town for my mental health. I found myself in the bathroom looking up the suicide prevention hotline. I took more time off. I did a sad little Hmph sound celebrating my year mark in the group (June).
I want to insert a note here that deserves its very own spot. Because I’m mushy and I believe in calling people out for greatness. If you want to know what a positive workplace feels like check out my team: My boss and Director? Totally get it, wish they could do more than they already were to help me. I was nervous both times I had to tell my boss, and both times he was gracious, sympathetic, and genuinely concerned about my physical and mental health. Then my official but unofficial team leader (how else do you explain the person who has answers for *all the things* and rally’s the group after acknowledging our complaints?) called me and told me not to feel bad for taking time off. He heard me say it before and couldn’t stand the idea of me beating myself up about it. I was reminded we are a family, and we always had each other’s backs. Period. 🤯 I cried after that conversation. When you feel like everything in your life that you are responsible for is going to shit by your hand, (not to mention they are taking on ALL OF MY WORKLOAD) and you get this instead…. I cried. I was humbled beyond words. They were far kinder to me than I was to myself. I have great role models, and that alone is worth its weight in gold.
I communicated I would not be returning until our daycare reopened. The daycare still hasn’t reopened. As a parent I question if sending my toddler to daycare would even be a safe decision to make with COVID-19 in America. We don’t have a safe plan against this virus yet. I used all the time the company offered and all the time I had saved up to hold out and pray for another answer. Which brought me to Monday. The day before yesterday. After planning all possible outcomes, weighing the risks, and taking our blessings into consideration, these facts remain: I cannot physically nor mentally juggle the tasks of my child, home, and my career while maintaining my mental health. My child needs a mother. My toddler is too dependent on me. The daycare is closed for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, I’m out of time, and my teammates deserve support and someone who can be there to offer them the quality of work they deserve.
It’s still unreal for me that after 6 years I will not be an employee of [company]. It was a large part of my identity, a large part of my life and development. But I do know the lessons I have learned from the people in this company are priceless, and they will always go with me. I learned just how strong I am, just how smart I am, and how much more I am in both with the right team. This company has taught me to plan for change, be open to many points of view, learn everything you can, and never think that what you do is too small. Change starts with you.
I don’t know where I’m going from here. I have a few long term goals/plans. But for now, I’m going to stop living in limbo and I’m going to go outside and play with my son. Amongst a host of chores and errands. Those can wait for now, though.
TL;DR : it wasn’t anyone’s fault, no one is to blame, but I quit my job the day before yesterday. After spending 6+ years building my career and meeting some of the finest people in my life. I’m sad and I’m mourning. I learned a lot there and I grew into the person I am because of that place and its people. But I’m going to use this time with my child and enjoy this stage. I’m going to take the time to figure out my passions. I’m scared and there’s a hint of excitement to see who I will be 6 years from now.