Today I formally placed my three week resignation notice. To do what? Follow my dream.
Some may call it a quarter life crisis (but I think that phase hit me more the first few months after I graduated from college and got my “real world” job). I consider myself an opportunist, and to me, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I know I’m one of the lucky few who can say that. I do believe I am in control of my own happiness and take responsibility for creating a path for myself. It makes me sad when I hear people complain about getting up for work, or how unhappy they are. Why suffer through 40+ hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy? Either get a new job or change your attitude and find the positives of your job. If my job is enabling me to live a lifestyle I enjoy, I think that is pretty darn good.
But how I ended up in a formal state job handling a lot more than I ever thought I would/could handle at my age, I’m not exactly sure. It all started with the thought that I could have a respectable job in my career field after college. And then the recession hit. And so over the past three and a half years I’ve been pulled, tugged, and pushed in so many different directions, it was only a matter of time before the let downs and stresses finally started taking a toll (no pun intended for you WSDOT folks) on my personal life.
And then – there was my host family (for those of you new to this, I volunteered in Italy a few months ago at a winery and lived with a host family for a month). Valeria, so sweet and incredibly intelligent remained positive and encouraging, as I seemed to face the most challenging time of my professional career. It then dawned on me, that perhaps I should take Valeria and Corrado up on their offer. They offered me the opportunity to come back whenever I wanted and work with them. We talked about what I would be doing, and it all sounded beyond wonderful. It sounded like something I’ve only dreamed of doing or read in stories or magazines. Let’s see…summer concert series event planning, wine making, and teaching English in the Italian countryside VS government policy making, politics, and be under constant public/media scrutiny.
I was able to simplify it to: Follow a dream I never thought I could even have or follow my career goals and buy a house? For some the choice seems easy, no matter which you choose. Normally the whole follow your dream thing, would be the most logical personal choice for myself. But now that the opportunity was here…it suddenly seemed like the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Luckily for me, I’ve had some incredibly supportive people in my life. Eventually what made the most sense to me was to ask myself “Why not?” I don’t have kids, a house, a husband or a boyfriend or any potential ones for that matter. When and I ever going to be able to do something like this ever again?
I wish Jim was still here, he would’ve been my beacon of light when things got tough around here. While it seemed so obvious that I needed to jump on this opportunity, I carry what Lisa calls “asian guilt”. I feel obligated to my family and my work. My job was just starting to come around with potential for further growth and I was finally getting the hang of things and created a nice foundation. Turning my back on it seemed crazy. So I decided, if I got everything I ever wanted out of my job, I would stay and perhaps think about Italy during a later time. If it did not, I would move.
Turns out, it didn’t work out. But it was a win-win situation for me. So after I bought my ticket it was only a matter of time before I would give my work the official notice. Talking to my manager Patty was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was shaking and didn’t stop shaking even when I got back to my desk. Although we work in a different department than where we both started…Patty has been with me from the beginning. She was on the hiring panel when I first came to WSDOT. We’ve been through quite a bit…especially over the past several months and I felt more guilty about leaving her than anything else. But as with all jobs: politics and drama can get in the way of a lot of goals and aspirations no matter the intentions.
Having a one on one conversation with our executive wasn’t even as hard as talking with Patty. While I know I took him by surprise, he was very responsive to my feedback and thoughts and said some very kind words about me and my departure. I’ve learned a lot from him and gained a tremendous amount of experience, and I find him to be a very respectable man to be working for. I find that to be a privilege. You often hear about how people don’t care for the big bosses and how they “don’t get it”, but I think he really does the best he can and goes beyond what is expected.
So now that it’s out there and the news is slowly leaking its way around, I find myself feeling awkward and silly when people come talk to me about it. I’m ecstatic to be leaving, but when I tell people about what I’m leaving for, it still sounds incredibly surreal. I am not sure when it will become real to me..last time i went to Italy it didn’t really settle in until I took my first steps off the plane and into the warm breeze and sunset. I will never forget that feeling. So who knows what moment it will be for me this time.
I’m becoming very nostalgic about everything I’m experiencing. When I was driving home late last night I thought about about how the routine-ness of this would be soon be non existent. My simple existence in Ballard will soon be gone. I’m just another person moving on with my life. And my life is about to take a major turn. How long will I be gone? Who knows. There’s no return date but I’m aiming for at least a year!
I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me next. Only 12 working days left. My last day at WSDOT will be the 29th and my departure date for Italy will be April 10. Time to pack this place up!
*Thanks to Lisa for the featured photo of Corrado in the fields.