Lauren’s story: My partner doesn’t want me to cry at dinner anymore

Just wanted to send a note to say THANK YOU for your team’s wonderful work. It has inspired me greatly over the years, and last week I finally did something about my crappy job, with the goal of having it settled before International Quit Your Crappy Job Day!

I have the usual range of excuses for keeping the job way too long: “It’s not THAT bad, is it? Maybe I’m just oversensitive.” “It’s stable for the most part, and this economy is crappy. Really, who needs passion or purpose when there’s stability?” “I’m afraid it will wreck my career if I deliberately leave a management position.” “The pay is pretty good.” “I love my coworkers too much to ditch them.” “I should be able to tough it out! I am a warrior, descended from Celts and Vikings! I have lived through far worse than this! Weakness is not an option! RAAA!!” Blah blah blah.

To add to that list: my job, despite all of its down sides, has offered a great deal of schedule flexibility and I get to work from home often. This is pretty powerful; I have a young family, and I have been very grateful for the ability to stay close and cultivate a beautiful home life for so long while still working. Because of this, I was more than willing to keep shouldering a lot of responsibility and work hard at odd hours, and I kept that balance pretty successfully for several years.

But things took a big turn downhill a couple of years ago in the job. In a nutshell, there are bad ethics going on in the levels above me, and I am not able to make peace with that. I’ve also got a seriously passive-aggressive boss who finds it easy to disregard people who don’t agree with him. There is simply nowhere for this job to go but backward, no matter how hard I work. It’s all been tearing me apart for too long, and straddling two worlds — one gorgeous, one awful — has exhausted me beyond my limit at last.

My partner told me a few weeks ago that he doesn’t want me to cry at dinner anymore when we chat about our work days. (I hadn’t even realized I was doing it.) He’s been so patient and so awesome through all of my angst; it finally opened my eyes to the fact that no matter how well I think I’m hiding it, my stress DOES affect my family (duh!), and it is not fair to them. That did the trick.

I told my boss last week that I want to step down from management and join the team I’ve been leading, and asked for conditions that are yet MORE flexible and amount to fewer hours. Negotiations are still under way, but it looks like this will go through, because I have many skills that are unique in the organization. There will be less money, but I’ll be able to stay close to my family, and I’ll still earn a paycheck and get back to building my creative portfolio. I’ll also have more bandwidth to look for my next job, if the new arrangement doesn’t work out better for me. (I had been looking lightly for a while, but just couldn’t drum up enough energy to do it for real, along with being a good manager and a good mom and a good partner and everything else… it contributed to the feeling that I was trapped in this dead-end work situation.)

Now I am navigating “stages of grief” as I prepare to step down after many years at this company. There’s a lot of relief, but there’s also fear of what will happen to the people I’ve been looking out for. I’m also feeling that the bulk of my efforts — not to mention my ethics — have been unappreciated all this time, and that I sorely overestimated what this job could really be. Naturally, I feel a bit foolish, even though I thought I had good reasons for investing as much as I did for so long. Anyway: all of these things confirm that it’s absolutely time to make this move, and I’m having no second thoughts, but in some ways it’s still a little more painful than I thought it would be.

Anyway — thank you again. Things are going to get better. Spring is here, and there are so many adventures ahead.

If any part of my tale of woe might help inspire others, you are very welcome to share it; I ask that you stick a fake name on it, if you don’t mind. I would be delighted if some of my coworkers read your website, but would rather not be found out personally 🙂