The Universe Made Me Do It: Leaving My Job After Twenty-Seven Years

Part One: Did I Really Just Do That?

I am a firm believer in the power of the universe. I believe signs appear when you are ready for them; especially when you feel, with every fiber of your being, that you are fully capable of doing so much more with your life. When staying stagnant and the same ol’, same ol’ just won’t do anymore. When you finally stop letting the fear and panic of making a huge life change have power over you. When some or all of these things happen and the light finally starts getting through the haze and fog that’s been clouding your brain, I believe the universe will send signals to let you know you’re on the right road. A great cosmic kick in the ass, if you will.

My backside needed a good swift kick. Why? Because I knew the time had come to leave my job of twenty-seven years; the prospect of which caused great fear and panic, especially since I’m not known for following through on things. I always have the best of intentions, but usually end up disappointing myself and others by only thinking and not doing. However, if you need someone who can over-think any situation, worry it into the ground for years on end and then second-guess almost every decision ever made, I’m your girl. But actually doing something, especially something this life-changing? Nope, not me. A major event like this is done by those lucky folks who never sweat, aren’t burdened with a worry gene, always have every hair annoyingly in place no matter how windy it is outside, the ideal don’t-care attitude, and clothes that never wrinkle. Those self-assured types who will, on a whim, march confidently into the boss’s office with great drama to announce they are leaving, and authoritatively strut out the door with the perfect hair flip and pithy saying to leave behind for their now former co-workers. Then they go home, grab their passport, spend ten minutes throwing a toothbrush and a comb into a backpack and take off for the airport to head for the first destination on their bucket list. Definitely not me.

Why on earth would anyone leave steady employment, complete with a nice bi-weekly paycheck, paid-for health and dental and ridiculously cheap monthly parking, especially in this new age of daily uncertainty about almost everything? For the simple reason it was killing me. Slowly. Systematically. Mentally. Physically. Every single day, it was killing me. The continued, constant frustration and stress of a daily three-hour commute no amount of iced coffee and Keith Urban or Best of the ‘80’s cd’s could alleviate. Sitting in a windowless, basement office eight hours a day answering phone calls and hearing complaints. The new system of management that eroded the camaraderie of a once tight-knit group of people who had worked well together for decades. The fact this created an every-man-for-himself, play the game and start kissing the backside of the “right” people in order to have your voice heard.

Puckering up and browning your nose is a game for politicians and people much younger than myself. It was never my style anyway, and I certainly wasn’t going to take it up now. I was beyond ready for a sign.

And what did the universe choose to send? Dragonflies. They showed up in July of 2016, after a particularly emotion-filled couple of months which had kept me feeling constantly on edge and, if I’m honest…a total bitch. The dragonflies showed up in my car of all places. Two of them. In my car. To this day, I have no idea how they got in; I’m pretty sure I would have noticed them getting in the car with me. I don’t drive with the windows open, nor do I leave them open once the vehicle is parked. It certainly isn’t something that had happened before in my almost thirty years of driving. Or since. But, there they were, popping out one at a time from the back seat and flying around as though they were supposed to be there. Which, of course, they were. As I opened the hatchback and watched them fly to their freedom, I felt a sense of calm I hadn’t had in ages. My breathing was lighter; I felt lighter. And just what do dragonflies symbolize, you might ask? Well, they represent intense emotional change, self-realization, and finding a deeper meaning of life. Subtle. But, silly as it may sound, the exact sign I needed. I took that symbolism to heart and absolutely knew this change had to happen, fear and panic be damned. Other, smaller signs showed up after this one, each one leaving a distinctive mark, but it was this wonderfully simple encounter with two dragonflies in my car that started moving me forward.

photo by Ritchie Valens

So, on December 11, 2016 I surprised myself, ninety-nine percent of my friends, and my co-workers by actually following through with something I said I would do: I handed in my resignation letter. Quite confidently, I might add.

And on January 9, 2017, I left my job of twenty-seven years. Not retired…left. Packed up my office, said my farewells, and left. Even though I only had enough savings to see me through one year at the most. But, for perhaps the first time in my life, I didn’t second-guess my decision. And that was the best sign of all.

Everyone has different circumstances and their own plot points to navigate. This is the start of my novel, and I have no idea where the pages, characters, and story lines are going to take me. I do know it comes down to this — we only get one ride on the roller coaster. And as we get older, that sucker moves along its track a hell of a lot faster than it used to. Yes, change is scary. Yes, it’s daunting. But, when the belief there’s more out there starts to take hold and the light starts seeping in, you will begin seeing the signs. Look and listen and see where they lead. You never know when your dragonflies may show up.

As for me, I’ll keep you posted…