Yesterday marked my last day at a job I’ve had for over 12 years. I loved this job. I was good at this job. And also, I quit this job.
I have never viewed myself as a quitter, not that I harbor judgment for the act, but I always considered myself to be leaving one thing for another. Mostly because nearly all of my other quits have been because things were not going well. I was forced to choose between what I knew was wrong and the unknown. Historically, I have chosen the unknown over misery. But this time, things were going great. I had a plan. It was good. But I didn’t care. And that felt empty.
I built this business myself. Did every single thing exactly the way I wanted. And it was beautiful. And successful. And worked in every way a business could for me and my family. But when it came to the road ahead, I didn’t want what the plan I had worked so hard for, promised. It was a promise I no longer wanted and one that even though I built, felt like it was for someone else. And I suppose that’s because it was. The promise was for a scared new mom. An energetic and bright hummingbird of a baby girl. A duo that very much needed all the hard thinking space to get to know each other and refused to be rushed by the outside world. And while 12 years later the duo remains, we have other promises to chase after. Together and separately.
I will be going through the emotional paces of this good quit for a while. I don’t know what will yield. Right now I feel a mix of freedom and grief. Relief of letting go and the overwhelm of sitting with what I created and how it served me in all the ways I needed it to. It’s big. And it very much feels that way.
What I do know for certain is that quitting, be it good or bad, does something powerful. The act seeps into the depths of a system. Be it an organization, a community, or a family. Quitting makes us question. Everything. Quitting precipitates a great reconciliation. And many people hate this. Because many of us hate asking this single hard question, “Am I choosing not to change?” Ouch.
I’ve pivoted, quit, changed gears, jumped ship, switched horses, etc. enough times to know that we cannot control the fallout of a quit, be it a good one or a bad one. I’ve learned that inevitably there will be those who fall away. Who are angered by the hard question. Who do not like looking within to consider that maybe they really want to quit, but it just seems impossible. And this pushes them away. I become irrelevant, the other. I no longer exist. And this hurts. A lot. And I'm never fully prepared for the surprise of who will need to walk away.
So I’m bracing myself this time around. Not out of protection, but standing firm in awareness. Noticing softly. Not taking it personally. Holding compassion for those unable to dance with reconciliation. Because it is a hard dance. Whether you get out on the floor or stand wallflower.
I’m crying a lot. Laughing a little. Reveling in 12 years of photographs and collaborations that introduced me to some of the most incredibly talented people. And also scared. Terrified, really. Of this vast unknown after a good quit. But knowing for certain that this is my process. I jump. Without looking. From a very high height. And every time I figure it out. I have yet to hit the dirt. And this time will be no different.
I think this is a kind of JOY too.