Jobs are a lot like relationships. First, there’s the courting phase — how to present your best self to your potential interest through your resume and cover letter. Not making a total fool of yourself when they call for a preliminary phone interview and to schedule an in-person one. The butterflies before the interview — will they like me? What if I say something ridiculous? Wearing your best suit, stockings even if you hate them, checking your teeth in the mirror ten times for smeared lipstick even though you know there isn’t any and you’re just being paranoid. Trying to remember it’s also your opportunity to evaluate them and your potential for meshing going forward, not just them judging you.
The preliminary encounters go great and an offer is made. At first, everything is shiny and new. You’re still trying to figure out their personality quirks, how they do things, how to communicate with each other in a way that advances your mutual commitment to this relationship. If you’re lucky and have found a job you’re really passionate about, you wake up in the morning eager to go in because it seems like everything and anything is possible.
After awhile, you settle into a comfortable routine. For the most part, you know what to expect every day. You share the ups and downs of daily life and bond with coworkers. After spending nine to twelve hours a day with the same group of people, they become a part of your world to some extent or another — after all, you do see them more than your friends, family, and significant other. Months turn into years.
If you’re lucky, you and the job grow together. In our generation, where the average person will change jobs 8-10 times in their life (I’m kinda making that up from a vague recollection of statistics I heard once upon a time), you almost certainly know nothing lasts forever. Separation is almost inevitable. Maybe it’s entirely amicable, maybe it’s even mutual, maybe it’s shocking, maybe it’s bitter. Regardless, it will happen. Even if it’s of your own choosing, it isn’t entirely happy when it finally happens. Sure, there are moments of pure elation and giddiness as you embark upon the whole process again. But then there is a sense of loss for what the relationship once was — when you were both so happy.
There are moments when the prospect of the unknown future makes the past/present only visible through rose colored glasses — do you really want to make this leap? Are things really that bad? Is this new thing something you can love? How do you explain to your current employer that you just aren’t that into them anymore when everything about it — the professional camaraderie, the inside jokes, the slice of “outside” you see from your office window, the quiet calmness of the place when you’re the first one in or the last one out — has been such a huge part of your life for years? Breakups are never easy.