Let’s Not Burn it Down, thoughts on leaving a job

I have been thinking a lot about the act of leaving, and how I want to be remembered.  Today is my first full day at my parents’ home in Walnut Creek, CA.  We said our goodbyes and closed some doors in the last few weeks, but we left some wide open.

So truth be told, the last month was definitely top 10 on my list of months-I-would-rather-cut-off-my-toes-and-attach-them-to-my-face-like-eyebrows-than-repeat.  I was closing out parts of my life that I had been content to be complacent in for the last year and change.  We left our jobs, left our house, and left our Portland based problems somewhere on the I-5 S as we whizzed down the highway to our adventur-cation.  I like to think every bug we hit on the highway was some hum drum anxiety bursting before my eyes.  And boy did we hit a lot of bugs:

high speed death a la GMC 2500 D

At work I gave 6-weeks notice.  I wanted to be sure that the transition was smooth and that I could train my replacement to ensure the flow of inventory was steady.  I worked in operations for an online beauty retailer based in Portland and I know that the button pushing that I did everyday wasn’t the most important job in the company, but I know that if the buttons did not get pushed there would be no products to sell.  I haven’t been blissfully happy for my entire time at b-glowing.  There have been problems that I wanted to address, some that I got to, and some that I only talked about in hopes they will be addressed in the future, but I definitely feel my experience has been net positive.  I am not here to tell you what those problems were, or how they are being fixed.  Why not?


pizza bey
*this is not my mom.

So if I am not here to air my grievances, then what, gentle readers, is this post about?  In my preparations for leaving, I started to notice how my approach differed from others I observed when exiting people’s lives.  I truly and whole heartedly do not want to burn it down.

Even though I likely will not see a good portion of the people who populated my professional life in Portland any time soon, I do not see the point in leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.  To be fair, we did have a messy exit to a couple of situations in our Portland life thus far.  But messy doesn’t have to mean emotionally damaging.

I have long been given the feedback (in all realms of my life mind you, work, sports, school, sorcery) that when I am having a bad day, I let everyone know it.  I wear my mood on my sleeve in a way that can be detrimental to the work flow of my department.  I know that this patriarchal society wants to crush emotion in the work place and I was playing into the perpetuation of the hysterical woman by amending my emotional response when I was upset in the office, but in this case I think it paid off a lot.  By putting my emotional response to leaving in the back of my mind for decisions and situations I know will have a long reaching affect on my personal and professional life, I finally feel like I made my exit right.

Now, true to form, I will break down my lessons learned into a buzzfeed-esque list because that’s just how millennial I am.

Questions to ask yourself before burning a bridge:

  1. Do I need a recommendation from this person?
  2. Is there anyone else of comparable position who likes me better that I could ask?
  3. Will that alternate recommendation know I mic dropped someone else and rescind their support?
  4. Will I leave a bad taste in the whole office’s mouth through my actions?
  5. Will I sully my own memory of my time in this place?
  6. Do I care about my own impression of this place?
  7. Will this ruin my credit score?
  8. Do I owe anyone here money?
  9. Does anyone here owe me money?
  10. Do I care about that money?
  11. Am I friends with these people on social media?
  12. Will this person seek revenge?
  13. Do they know where I live?
  14. Could I fight them?
  15. Do I want to fight them?

OK so some of these are hyperbolic.  But in my mind as I venture forth into my working life I find that I am constantly at odds with my emotionally aware upbringing.  I was always told to express myself, to think through my feelings, and to talk about them (thanks mom, I’m super well-adjusted).  This coupled with my formal training as an advocate for the public interest had instilled this zeal to make the problems of the entry-level known.  When I decided I wanted to leave there were obviously many negative feelings.  I had taken this job with the goal in my head of reaching 1 year and re-evaluate.  The results of that re-evaluation as I approached my work-aversery made it more like a work-ADVERSEry (haaaaaa!).  I had the fire in my heart, I had talked to my coworkers and gotten the hearts thumping and heads nodding as my PIRG boss Dave used to say.  I knew what I wanted to say.  But in my most recent experience I felt that my biggest asset was my ability to mention absolutely nothing emotional throughout my exit.

This does not hold true for all companies or situations but there were a lot of systems at my old job that I had developed, that were my sole responsibility, and that no one else in the office knew how to do, or even knew had to be done.  When I decided to give notice I made the choice to be around for the training of my replacement and to make sure that those tasks did not slip into the abyss after my departure.  If I had listened to my purely emotional response when I was leaving I may have just peaced


But I knew that looking past my present emotional turmoil it would make me feel guilty beyond belief to hold back the business I was leaving by putting this expiration date on my care for my job.  All of my negative feelings or senioritis paled in the face of all these people that I have worked side by side with for a year thinking back on me and my work as a detriment to the company.  So I guess I did let my emotions guide me, I just relied more on nostalgia and care for my own future than my righteous indignation.  Call it selfish, call it pandering, call it whatever you like; I’m going to call it constructive and I am very happy that I did not burn it down.


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