Leaping Into the Unknown

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Today is the last day at my job. I gave five weeks notice, put together a hand off plan, met with all the stakeholders, and created a step-by-step manual on how to do my job when I’m gone. This work comes naturally to me as a process-oriented, Type A human. The most difficult work came later when person after person asked me the same two questions: “What happened?” and What’s next?”

To address the first question, the answer is “nothing happened.” I love my coworkers, the company’s mission, and my students. No trauma occurred that made me put my foot down. But over time, I realized that I am an introvert doing an extrovert’s job. I’m not afraid to talk to people; in fact, when I’m in flow, I enjoy the process. But in order to access that flow state, I need recovery time. My role requires so much context switching and being “on” that it’s hard to carve out heads-down project work time.  

In terms of what’s next, I’m still working on it. This is the first time in my life I’ve left my job without another lined up. However, it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my days watching Netflix. I naturally impose order on otherwise unstructured time, so I’m already mapping out routines and routes to explore. I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of work, different work styles, and finding a good match for one’s strengths and personality. Do the Damn Things felt like a strong basis for something bigger and I’m excited to flesh it out. More on that to come.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m scared of the unknown. While I have some leads on the next step, the path is still unfolding before me. I’m wrestling with my own issues surrounding work and success. Who am I if I don’t have a full-time job? As a person who identifies as a hard worker, can I validate myself in that space? Am I truly an entrepreneur at heart? What does success in that space look like? That fear voice plays in a loop in the back of my mind, but it always carries the same old tune. I’m getting better at putting it in its place.

What’s more interesting is the reactions I get to these answers. Few people are satisfied. Many don’t understand; they look worried and wonder if I’m okay. At first, these reactions made me doubt myself; it took a lot of time and introspection to get to a place where I was ready to make a leap. But what I realized is that what I’m likely experiencing is their own fears projected on to me. I’m sure my students faced similar doubts and challenges when they made the decision to become developers. Slowly but surely, I’m getting back in touch with my gut and learning to trust it. Let’s go!

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