[Sept 2013] Quitting my Job

I was already very deep down yesterday evening, after working the whole weekend to prepare an offer that I knew we couldn’t win. I was complaining for hours about it to my girlfriend, Sophie. Then I woke up extremely nervous today morning. I prepared myself for the day and meditated a little. I was thinking about whether I should go to work or stay home. I changed my mind every minute, but finally, I sat into my car and drove to the office. I knew there will be an official supervision on a project of mine, that made my stomach turn, because I knew the difference between reality and what we communicated about the project, just to get the necessary funding. When I was walking from my car to the office, I stopped again and thought about going back home. All my muscles were in a cramp. I was nauseous and dizzy from thinking about the things that were waiting for me this day. My body was resisting entering the building and spending there another day. I turned around and walked back to my car. I imagined going home, sending a message that I was sick, and staying in bed for a week in a fetal pose, eating pizza, not talking to anyone, being isolated from society and the world. That was what my body and soul wanted. But after a few steps back to my car, I suddenly turned around and entered the building, against all my desires.

The supervision was planned for the whole day, but I knew I wouldn’t have the patience and nerves to stay there so long. I could manage to survive one-hour-long meetings in the last days, fighting with my nervousness and disgust, but I had doubts that I would be able to do this for several hours. I went to my desk, put down my things, looked for the two colleagues, and went down together with them to the conference room, where all the others were waiting for us. We were about ten people, plus the two supervisors, who arrived a little later on. After the short introduction, we formed two groups. I only had to deal with the actual content of the project, not the business and administrative parts. I calmed down after a short while. My colleagues communicated the most important basics, then we started getting into the details. I was very nervous imagining that soon I might get some uncomfortable questions, and everybody would expect me to answer them because I was the project manager. These are the situations when I have to rely on my famous (non-existent) resilience, calmness, communication, and problem-solving skills. Skills I don’t even remember I’ve ever had. I felt myself a human wreck, falling apart any minute from the slightest breeze.

In the meantime, my phone was ringing every ten minutes, and I couldn’t refuse to answer it. First, another customer was looking for me, because of some minor unimportant thing, then the sales guy started harassing me about the tender I was working on all weekend, probably in vain. He was asking me lots of stupid questions, and tried to pressure me by saying “If we (you) don’t do this, then we (you) worked for nothing because we have to send it in the morning.” I thought he can go fuck himself! Each phone call put me into a worse nervous condition, and I returned to the meeting feeling more and more tense and anxious, where I had to pick up the pieces again. Then I received the first really unpleasant question, and my heart wanted to jump out of my chest. I was trying to talk, but only half-words came out of my mouth. I could talk myself out of it somehow, but we were sitting there only for and hour, and I knew I didn’t have much energy and strength left to fight many more of such situations. Two more questions like this and they will have to wash me up from the floor. I was literally shaking when I decided I didn’t want to keep on doing this. I realized I had to leave the place right away. I pretended that my phone was ringing again, so I stood up, left the room, left the building, and walked down to the park near the office, to my secret, quiet little place, to the small pier next to the beautiful river.

There I fell down to my knees, but I soon realized that I was too nervous to sit still, so I stood up and started walking up and down the pier. I felt terrible. Like a child bullied into escaping society altogether. Then my phone was ringing again. They called me about the tender again, with new questions. I lost my patience completely. I promised to do everything in the afternoon, just to make them leave me alone. I generated another task and responsibility with this, which made me nauseous. I felt like it was all over, there was nothing more I could do, it didn’t make any sense to keep on going like this. I can’t live like this. I got to the point – actually much earlier, but this was the time I realized it – where climbing another mountain, fighting another obstacle was pointless, simply because it is not worth climbing and fighting for such a price. It should be at least a little fun, but for me, nothing was fun for a very long time. If something makes me suffer so much, then it shouldn’t be done. I just didn’t know I had such an option. But now I see this as the only option. My principles, facing problems or running away from them, being a coward, losing money, becoming poor, nothing matters to me anymore. I just can’t live like this, I can’t spend my days like this! Something needs to change! It doesn’t matter that I planned to stay here until the end of the year, I can’t take this anymore, not even for another day!

I decided that I won’t go back to the meeting. I wouldn’t be able to go back anyway. I let the company down, I let the project down, but I don’t care. I let my colleagues down so they will have to fight through this day without me. I felt awful because of this. After a few minutes, Susan called me to go back. I promised to try but started making up excuses with other projects. I felt it in her voice that she didn’t believe me. Then she called me again to ask for help because they couldn’t reach certain files on the network without me. I wanted to tell her my password, but she ordered me angrily to go back. First I decided to go, but then I realized I shouldn’t go back there once more. Then I wrote her a message with my password, saying that I couldn’t go back. I felt like a coward. Later I wrote her a more personal message and asked her to come out when they would have a break. I wanted to tell her everything black and white.

Soon she called me, telling me that she was waiting for me in front of the building. I went there and told her everything straight. My heart was running wild, and I wasn’t sure I could tell her everything I thought and felt. I told her I couldn’t go back because I had enough. I told her I wouldn’t do anything anymore. I told her I quit. I asked her to finish it without me because I wasn’t able to. I asked her if she wanted to take my projects as a project manager because I could help her get them. She didn’t want them, just as I expected. I’ve been working with her for almost 4 years. She is a little weird and antisocial, but she is a valuable, hardworking employee. Knowing her, I wasn’t even surprised that after so many years she listened to my emotional monolog absolutely expressionless, without showing the slightest emotion. I asked her to gather my things and bring them out for me here because I didn’t want to go back anymore. I just wanted to go home as fast as I could. She came back a few minutes later with my bag and my things. I thanked her everything, went back to my car, and left the place in a hurry because I didn’t want to meet anyone.

Later I called two colleagues, George and Mike, who were also good friends of mine. I told them I was going to quit. Mike was very sympathetic, also a little jealous maybe, because he wanted to go more times than I did, but never did actually quit. He couldn’t do it because of his fiancée and his newly bought house. I called George because of my projects, but he couldn’t take on any of them because he was already full.

At home, I worked on the calculation that they asked me for the tender, but I felt I was going to die while doing it. I was sick of thinking about sitting in front of a computer. I finished it, sent it, shut down my laptop, and laid down on my bed. I was relieved because I knew there was no way back from there. But I also knew I had to talk to my boss the next day, to actually quit. I was thinking about going back and doing it, but I didn’t feel the strength to go back there after how much I wanted to escape from there. It would’ve been foolish to go back.

In the evening I had two different football matches. One training-like, for preparing for the company’s football tournament, the other one with my regular team in a league. I brought a colleague of mine, Greg with me from the first one to the second match to play with us. I was extremely nervous because of the whole day. Even football couldn’t calm me down, which is very rare. In the car, I told Greg about quitting. He was shocked. I told her about the reasons, which was very difficult to me to even think about, let alone express them.

**********

I woke up extremely nervous next morning, just as I expected. I had no other plan for the day, only talking to my boss, telling him that I quit. I wanted to wake up early because I wanted to get over with it as soon as possible, but couldn’t get up as early as I wanted. I arrived at the office early on, but my boss was nowhere yet. So I went to my desk and sat down on my chair, but I didn’t turn on my laptop. My thoughts were running wild in my head, and I didn’t want to fill in more stuff by reading my emails or surfing the web. I checked my boss every five minutes, but he wasn’t there. After a while, Susie told me that he had finally arrived, and went to the kitchen. As I was walking there, I heard his voice, talking to someone. My heart was beating heavily. I had doubts if I was capable of telling him what I wanted to. I met him as he was walking back to his room. I greeted him and asked him if we could talk. We couldn’t go to the conference room because it was occupied. We went to his room, but he had a roommate there already working. I told him that we should go to the phone room because I wanted to talk privately. He started laughing and asked me what I wanted to talk about. I couldn’t laugh, but I knew immediately that he was aware of my intentions. It also meant to me that I had already communicated the most important thing, without saying a word. It made me feel a little relieved, but the few steps to the phone room still seemed infinitely long.

We entered the room and sat down. My heart was heavy. I was very nervous, filled with fear. I started talking slowly and uncertainly. I could hardly find the words, but I got to the point in my first sentence. “I quit.” – I said. He was not surprised at all. He was not stupid. Occasionally he seemed like he was, but not this time. After a few sentences, I could calm down a little and found my words again. I felt myself like in the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” show, after a player stops, all the lights go up, the strange music stops, and everything else happens like a friendly conversation, where nothing really matters anymore. We were talking a little longer. I wasn’t prepared for this and didn’t know what to share with him of all the things that bothered me here. He and our differences had a significant role in my quitting, but I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to fight him, I didn’t want to convince or enlighten him, I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to share myself a little, out of kindness, to let him understand me at least partly. When he said that I hadn’t seen so much of the corporate world to be fed up with it, I understood that I shouldn’t go any deeper than this because there is a fundamental difference in our views, that is unmanageable. The final nail in this coffin came when he said – after I had told him that I wanted to build a startup – that I could build a startup there, inside the company. As if we weren’t living in the same world. I couldn’t understand him, and I didn’t even want to question anything anymore. I always told my colleague and friend Mike, that once I quit this job, I would tell everything to our boss so straight and so angry. But he always said that I wouldn’t do anything like that because I wouldn’t care anymore. He was right. I didn’t want to convince anyone of anything anymore. Despite all this, our conversation went in a pleasant and friendly way. We arranged some technical things about my remaining time. I tried to be flexible and cooperative, which can be dangerous, knowing his problem-procrastinating habits.

I left the room feeling relieved. I knew that it all became official. I was waiting for this for a long time. There was no way back from there. This realization scared me for a moment. There was no way back! But I like to leave doors open for escape. And now I closed one behind me. It was terrifying. Although I knew I did the right thing, so I quickly pushed away this thought. The rest of the day passed in peace, especially compared to the horrible experiences of my last days.

After I had finished with my boss, I sent a message to my best friend Alex, who was working abroad. He was kind enough to call me on the phone a few minutes later. I didn’t expect his call, but I was glad he did call me. He was in an “Oh my God, what happened” kind of state. I calmed him down and told him that I didn’t do it suddenly, without thinking, and nothing horrible happened, I just wasn’t able to keep on doing this. He understood it.

In the evening I went to our football match with the boys. We had a tense game, with all the things that shouldn’t happen on a football field: cursing, verbally insulting the opponent, kicking each other, pushing each other, etc. Although we had already played with them before, they had never shown us this kind of behavior. It was an unpleasant experience after a day like this. On top of that, we lost by one goal. I could hardly concentrate during the match and played very bad. In the last ten minutes, I came down to the bench and stayed there because I didn’t want to play anymore. I felt uncontrollable rage surfacing in me after a few outrageous situations. Although I was feeling pretty good and calm today after talking to my boss in the morning, still I was not peaceful deep inside. My nerves are tired, and certain situations can move me off balance in a second. It is like playing football with a half-healed muscle strain. I don’t feel it during the day when I sit, stand, or walk, and I might even be able to run with it, but any sudden or forceful move on the pitch and the pain comes back right away, just to remind me to take more time.

After the final whistle, a little hustle happened with shouting, pushing, and almost a few punches as well. My teammate Bod had a verbal fight with someone of the opponent team, then – when everybody seemed to calm down – all of a sudden Bod started running towards this guy at full speed, like a lunatic. Halfway there a neutral, bigger guy from another team stood in his way to stop him. Bod stopped, calmed down a bit, then let it all go. We were standing there watching what had just happened, wondering what might have happened if this guy hadn’t been there to stop him. Then we stayed a little longer to talk it through. A teammate of ours told Bod he shouldn’t behave like this in the future. I didn’t want to say anything, just sat there staring in front of me. I walked up to Bod, who was a little further. I didn’t want to talk to him, but he started talking to me. His voice was shaking, tension and frustration were clearly visible on him. His pulse must have been in the skies. He told me: “You know what’s the strangest in the whole situation? I wasn’t even angry or nervous for a single moment.” I was staring at him. “Yes, of course…” – I thought, but didn’t say anything. This was a very typical, almost classical statement from him. I understood his situation and his emotional condition. He had problems at home and at his job. Serious things, going on for years. And now he was lying into my face, just to seem cool, confident, and aloof, which he wasn’t. While he kept on talking, I was wondering if he believes his own bullshit or not. I couldn’t decide. People are often unaware of their feelings and their problems. They just tune out. But so much? Maybe he wasn’t even lying, he was just unaware, I don’t know.

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