One Fine Day

Dear me, that went well! I’ve just had my first day back in that tall imposing office building, returning to the grinding gears of the corporate machine, and boy was I nervous! I’d worked myself up into such a frenzy about it that I barely slept a wink the night before (further aggravating my already terrible insomnia) and literally had to catch my breath for a second before walking through that first office door.

I got in a little later than I’d have liked, having overslept my alarm due to being up all night. So here I am, running late and panicking, with no idea of what to expect to come into. I had no idea if my boss (let’s call her ‘M’) was expecting me to jump straight back into being her Admin. Like the logical side of me figured probably not, but that didn’t stop me from briefing myself on her entire schedule that day, just in case I was asked to help her navigate it first thing that morning, as I used to do.

So I’m cursing myself the whole drive down, and it’s a few minutes after 9am when I finally rolled into work. And after a brief pause to collect myself, I entered apprehensively through the usual office door that leads up a back staircase to my floor.  To my relief, not many people were around, meaning I only had one or two ‘Oh you’re back!’ exclamations to face just then. ‘Phew!’ I thought. Maybe I’ll be able to go the whole day like this, in manageable waves.

After that initial wave of relief, things just kept getting better. I happily discovered that the temp Admin (let’s call him T) – the one who’d filled in during my leave – was still around AND still managing M’s calendar. And upon reaching out and meeting with him, I further learned that T’s contract was actually extended full through June and intended to continue said Admin work all the way through then. Happy discovery number 2! This means not only don’t I have to take back over any Admin duties now, but I’ll also be able to stay free of them all the way through to my resignation!

Then, just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, T informs me that he and M have been discussing his future and the hope to transition him into her Admin role full-time, as my permanent replacement. This swept away any other concerns I had, as I know only too well how long the hiring process here takes, and was afraid I’d have to depart before we’d locked down new full-time support for M. She means so much to me, that I knew it would be terribly hard to say goodbye knowing I was leaving her on her own.

And now I don’t have to worry about her! If all goes according to plan, I will be leaving M in the (as I’ve so far observed) capable hands of T. So now my purpose here until my departure is clear. I have my successor, and now I must prepare him. T seems to have a lot of potential, from what I’ve seen of him so far. And what’s more M likes him, which speaks highly for him. So I’ve no doubt he could do this job, and do it well. The key is to get him to the point where he’s doing it as M needs it done, working with her as she needs someone to. That’s where I come in.

Armed with this plan, I headed into my first meeting with M. The day had already been going so much better than expected, but I still had one remaining worry. I was as yet unsure how M would take the news of my ideal future plans, carefully developed out of my extensive introspective journey. I’ve always known how supportive she is of me, and I was banking on that. But at the same time, I was keenly aware of how much she loves working with me, and would suffer to see me leave the company.

I was thus prepared for such pushback in walking into our meeting. And can you imagine, but I needn’t have worried at all! The very first thing she did, after squealing with delight to see me, was to insist that she see my eyes. Before I left, she had made the pointed observation that the sparkle was missing from my eyes, an indication she said of just how lost she saw I was. So naturally, upon my return, she was eager to see if my eyes had regained their light. And after careful study, she declared they had, and that I looked much happier and healthier in general. Satisfied with this, we sat down and commenced to dig into the recap of my leave.

I told her everything. I always tell her everything. It’s a rare relationship we have, M and I. And we’ve always felt comfortable telling each other everything. So it was no different now. I told her all about how I’d struggled to find myself, to listen to my own inner voice for once. I told her about setting a strict health regimen of sleep, food and exercise. I told her all about therapy, about overcoming the panic, and tackling the overwhelming family issues. And ultimately, I told her how all this had lead me to realize my own unique and personalized definition of a successful life. How I’d learned to look beyond the pre-conditioning of my past, and the expectations of my family and society, to determine what lifestyle I myself would find valuable and sustainable.

And M just nodded. She just sat there, soaking it all in, offering her approval and encouragement here and there. It was more than I’d hoped for, more than I’d given her credit for. Here was my boss, my mentor, my leader, offering completely respect and support for all my decisions. If I paused for reaction, she would agree that this sounded absolutely appropriate for me, very much more suited to my personality and passions, and the truly best next step for me. I was elated! I finished telling her about my next occupational adventures, the training I was already undertaking, and even my plans to go homeless and couch surf with friends to save money. And you know what she did? Not only did she love the sound of it all (aside from a few natural concerns about the homelessness), she even offered to have me come crash with her if I liked.

How many bosses do you know who would do that? M is truly extraordinary, is she not? I also mentioned how I’d like to do some traveling while having no home, and she again jumped at the chance to have me come along with her on any upcoming trips! She turned to her computer enthusiastically, and exclaimed, “Where am I going next? Maybe you can come with me!” And the funny thing is, I would go with her too!

Having gotten full buy-in on my future plans, I then turned the conversation to the next month and the transition ahead. At first, M offered to let me leave in less than the month previously agreed upon, seeing how well T was already doing in the role – which normally I’d have accepted. But then I mentioned my ‘other’ reason for staying the full month, and M immediately understood. In further confirmation of our awesome relationship, she told me in perfect frankness that she’d happily keep me on until paid my year-end bonus, and then let me go immediately after.

The meeting ended on the most excellent of terms, M and I having fully laid out my final day of work, and what I’d be doing up until then. Simply put, my only job until then would be mentoring and training T for the full M Admin role, and helping him out with any bigger strategic projects. No Admin bitch work, no calendaring, no expenses, nothing! Just mentoring and strategic planning, the only two parts of the Admin job I ever actually liked!

So here I am now, sitting in my room and reliving today’s events. And I still can’t believe my luck! All my worries that I’d be thrown directly back into Admin mania, that M wouldn’t understand my reasons for moving on, that she’d beg me to stay at the company… all of that seems so silly now. In the end, M was every bit as supportive and sincere as I’ve always known her to be. And in the end, I discovered it might just be possible after all to achieve the change I’ve come to dream of. I may, after all, be able to live the life I want. The life I choose for myself. With one very fine day successfully passed, I just have to get through the next 5 weeks, and then… freedom!
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