Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

“How lucky I am, to have something
that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

— A. A. Milne

Today is a bittersweet day.

In the very recent past, I was fretting a little about my finances – since making the transition to living solo and being responsible for – well, everything – my wonderful job in the non-profit world wasn’t quite paying the bills. I landed some extra freelance work, and even went to an orientation for an evening job (at which point I realised what a frightful snob I was, couldn’t bring myself to phone Americans to ask them about their preferred brand of dog food, and left halfway through… this was following a test in which they asked us to explain the difference between an open-ended and a closed-ended question. Right?), but this course of action would have me waking up at 5:45 and working until 10:30 at night. I knew I’d probably burn out pretty quickly, and the extra money wasn’t substantial enough to make it worthwhile, and sometimes you have to give yourself a little bit of a break. So I crunched some numbers, made a tentative budget, and decided I would live off Kraft Dinner, shop at Value Village, and develop a passion for avoiding the world of music and theatre for the next five years, only at the end of which I would be close to paying off my debt. And then the universe intervened.

All of a sudden, I was being contacted by someone in the nation’s capital to ask if I was available for a job that I’d interviewed for a year ago (and been offered; I’d declined when funding came through that would allow me to remain where I was) – and that offered a 23% increase in pay. I’ve never been one to make a decision based on money – I firmly believe that we only have one life and we should do as much with it and leave as positive an impact in it as possible regardless of whether or not we have money – but reality was setting in hard, and I decided to take a leap of faith. I know it’s illogical, but I like to believe in signs sometimes, and the timing was just too coincidental. I had a giant problem, and the solution was being handed over with a nice big bow on top. So I said yes.

The next thing I knew, I was writing a resignation letter with shaking hands and a pounding heart, a mixture of excitement, relief and absolute heartbreak running through my veins. I met with my supervisor, her boss, and the Executive Director individually, shakily handed them each a copy of the letter, let out a squeaky “I — I’m going”, and burst into tears. By the time I got to the ED, I’d cried all my makeup off, and went into his office in absolute floods (which were only intensified when I saw he’d kept the giant ball of tin foil in pride of place, left over from my attempts at “decorating” his office). They each assured me I’d be missed, that I was gifted, and that I’d grown so much since I first started. They told me heartfelt things about admiration and resilience and said I’d made a difference in lots of lives. They said how they’d passed my blog onto their children who were going through difficulty because somehow they saw me as “an inspiration.” They gave me heartfelt hugs and boxes of tissues and left me wondering if I’d made an enormous mistake. But the last few months have been full of giant changes, and each one has led to new things that have been infinitely more wonderful than I’ve ever known, and in my heart, I know that this is a necessary step forward. The final step toward a brand new life.


Working in non-profit has been an absolute joy. My coworkers became like a sort of family, there to celebrate with decorations, afternoon tea, a TARDIS and Photoshopped Star Trek cards during the good times, and with hugs, coffee, boxes and cars to help me move during the challenges. It was part of the mission statement to have fun. It was also part of the mission to make a significant contribution to people’s lives, and we did both brilliantly. Nothing will compare to the feeling of seeing people’s whole worlds completely turned around, the effects that will last the rest of their lives, or the feeling I got after in absolute terror, I’d facilitated my first workshop, and had a round of applause at the end. I dressed up in Christmas costumes with these people, ran around the city taking ridiculous pictures with strangers, and learned lessons at staff retreats that will stay with me forever. These people helped me believe in myself, take risks, see the world differently, and do things I never thought I’d be able to do. I poured my heart into this job and the people I shared each day of the last two and a half years with, and I feel incredibly sad to see this chapter ending.

But whether you call it a sign, karma, orchestration of the universe or inevitability as a result of genetic makeup, this new door is opening for a reason, and I have faith that this is going to lead to brilliant things. New people, new challenges, a significantly less stressful financial situation, and new opportunities as a result. My new job is at a Big Corporate Company in a downtown high-rise – I’ve worked in non-profit, freelance and businesses with less than five employees for the last half-decade; it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment. I’m scared, but I’m almost as excited. I leave with people who’ll forever have a place in my heart, who’ve helped me become who I am this very moment, as friends. And I’m growing. I’m doing the sensible thing and taking measures to get into a better situation. I’m paving the way for all the things I want to do in the next few years in life – I want to learn more skills, challenge myself more, save more and see more of the world. I want to travel and get more tattoos and buy a car and take more classes. I want to be able to afford healthy food. I want to give more when World Vision phones me up or when friends have birthdays. I want to experience more and just be more. It seems the journey of Becoming A Grown-Up is continuing more rapidly as of late, with bigger steps and scarier hurdles and larger gaping chasms of uncertainty, but as with anything in life, you just have to accept it, go with it, and give it your all. Make a decision to just be brilliant.

Today is my first day. And despite all the nerves and anxiety that have made a thoroughly jarring and unwelcome return over the last few days, I have no intention of doing anything less. Wish me luck…

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36 comments

  1. Emily, I hope you’ll be happy in your new job! It certainly seems like all the signs were right. Leaving my first fulltime job was the most stressful, scary thing – but a few months on I know I’ve absolutely made the right decision. I suppose my situation is kind of a reverse of yours – big corp to smaller company, and thus, less stability and slightly less money (for regular working hours – so worth it). Also worth it is simply the variety, the learning, and the added responsibility that comes when you work in a smaller team.

    I believe even the sheen of a dream job wears off when you have to work extra jobs in your space time in order to be able to afford to live.
    Finding that sweet spot between money and fulfilment is tough – I sometimes wonder if I could manage to do a high paying, high stress job for a couple of years in order to be able to save up for all the travel I want to do, and a house. I still haven’t reached a conclusion on that yet.

    1. I’m really hoping the stress is just the initial nerves right now! Small teams are lovely – I love the closeness between people, and the big responsibilities, and the variety… I will definitely miss a lot about my old job. But all in the name of growth right… right… lol 🙂 The new place is big and scary, but the people are really lovely and I’m hoping I’ll catch on eventually!

  2. You are brilliant Em!

    And I am truly amazed at how strong you are. I know plenty of women (and men) that would have given up or slipped into years of depression after going through what you went through. Instead, you’ve moved on in the most beautiful way. Congrats on the new job! Here is to great changes in life 🙂

    1. Ohhh dear I haven’t felt anywhere close to brilliant since I handed in my resignation! I’ve been an anxious, fretting mess lol… but thank you for being such a sweetie 🙂

  3. Love the photos em, what a great couple of years and you’re right, you shouldn’t be sad it’s over but happy it happened in the first place. This sounds like a great opportunity for you and you are going to rock it! Every body gets nervous at first…. be patient with yourself, they picked you for a reason and thats because they believe in you. So do we. Go and knock their socks off!

  4. Hey Em. I miss you already. Thinking of you on your first day. Looking forward to meeting you for lunch once you are settled in. xo, Sara (chsp)

  5. I’ve only been reading your blog for a little over a year, but in that time I’ve seen you grow more than anyone I know. Truly, you are so open to new challenges and pushing onward and upward and holding on to what you have and knowing what that means for you. It’s an inspiration. I have no doubt you’ll put just as much heart and soul into your new job as you did the last one, and I hope you’ll find it just as rewarding. Sometimes timing is on your side.

  6. Good Luck Emily! I am so excited for you and your new adventure. I know it will be a huge change, but it will be an incredible opportunity to expand and grow! I know how it is to leave people you’ve worked with for so long, and even though you know you’re making the right choice for you, it doesn’t make it any easier. At least you know you can stay in touch with them and still be a part of their lives even though you aren’t working there anymore. Have a great first day! 🙂

  7. Best of luck to you Emily! I am so very happy for you!
    I know exactly how you feel having left non-profit after 16 years to come to a private business 6 months ago.
    You have been through sooo much change in your life lately, and your courage and tenacity inspire me! Keep on going! You are already great!

  8. Okay well I’m a day late but I hope your first day was amazing! I hope you made the right choice & everything starts working out for you, you deserve it girl. Let me know how it all went with the new job 🙂

  9. Aww, I bet it’s hard. I wouldn’t know since I’m still here at my first job but I’m pretty sure when the time comes, I’ll be the same way. I hope your first day went well! Congrats! 🙂

  10. Good luck!! I hope the new job is everything you’re looking for! I also think it’s hard to leave any job you’ve spent a lot of time with. You have grown tremendously there and I’m sure you’ll be missed!

  11. I’m not sure how i came across your blog but i believe everything happens for a reason! You are definitely an inspiration and its so nice to see someone that has had the same struggles and issues as me and has chose to change and overcome their obstacles to become a better person. I too had horrible social anxiety and have completely transformed myself in the past 4 years through forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I just wanted to encourage you to never stop writing and blogging for people like you and me that might still be stuck. I still struggle with opening myself up and showing my true self but it’s seeing blogs like yours that help me so much to feel ok with who i am, after all if you can show it to the world, so can I! Haha. Just wanted to say keep up the good work, and all the best to you. You are one amazing woman!
    P.S. We seem to have an incredible amount in common and it makes my heart glad that there is someone else like me:)

  12. Drumming fingers expectantly while waiting to hear all about the first days…

    (p.s. I know I’ve been gone for ages, but I’m back at last… get ready for inane comments 🙂).

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