FAREWELL UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

Stepping through the building’s revolving doors and swiping my work card for the last time, I felt overcome with nostalgia. My mind went for a trip down memory lane to the first time I stood in front of the security gates, desperately trying to get my visitors card to work so I that I could get to my job interview on time. I remember feeling self-conscious that I was holding up the flow of morning traffic as I did my awkward forward and backward shuffle trying to get the barriers to open. I remember rushing to the toilet to calm my nerves, flapping about trying to cool my sweaty body, and checking my armpits for embarrassing sweat stains.

I really wanted the job. At the time, this government role was what I deemed in my mind as the pinnacle of my career success in my profession. I believed that my self-worth was directly linked to my job title, and this role would be validation of that. It would satisfy my ego and dull that little insecure voice in my head telling me that my value and existence was defined by work and its accomplishments.

I remember taking extreme care in my appearance, rehearsing the lines that I would say, and trying to give myself the pep talk I needed to come across as a capable and confident person. I remember the elation I had felt at news of my success. I remember meeting my work colleagues and feeling nervous but eager to please. This job was pivotal to me feeling complete.

Over the years, I began feeling frustrated with the system, felt downtrodden with my inability to effect change, and resentment built to a point where I became an ineffectual team member. It was also around the time I was gifted with a second job title – mum – and my struggles with work-life balance, mother’s guilt and anxiety reared its ugly head.

Why did I stay, I hear you ask, if I was so unhappy?

I made excuses to myself: I needed a job, we needed the money, it was well-paid and secure, and I should have been thankful to have a job when so many others struggled to find one. In truth, I stayed for longer than I should have out of fear. I was fearful of the unknown. I didn’t believe in my own abilities or capabilities. What if I didn’t find anything better? Don’t they say the grass is always greener on the other side? My anxiety made sure to shred any remaining confidence.

And so, I stewed in my misery, negativity pouring from me like a poison, darkening my thoughts and affecting everyone around me. I was depressed and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. People were moving forward, grabbing opportunities with gusto, and surviving within the murky waters of the workplace restructures. I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore and I certainly didn’t feel I deserved to be there, taking someone else’s spot. I was lost. I was a failure as a teammate and as a parent. I was in a very bad head space. For the sake of my mental health and my family, there was only one solution and that was to resign.

Today, as I said my farewells to my friends, I felt strong emotions of grief and loss. These wonderful people had become my second family, unwavering in their support, encouraging with meaningful words and enriching my life with their presence. Today, I close this chapter of my life with fond memories that will forever be etched in my heart.

Where will my new adventures lead? What does the next chapter look like? What are my plans? I do not know.

The only thing I do know is that I am ready for the magic of new beginnings.

 


To my friends, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

FT – I will miss your hugs and infectious laughter.
MD – I will miss your jokes, even though I rarely got your punch lines.
QG – I will miss your D&Ms, you gave me strength through some of my darkest days.
WY – I will miss your tough love, no-nonsense attitude.
GS/MN – I will miss your generous and kind spirits.
MS – I will miss your inner strength and words of wisdom.
GP – I will miss your wildly inappropriate but funny comments. Don’t go changing.
JL – I will miss hearing of your small wins with coupons and freebies.
EB – I will miss your words of encouragement and support.
HS – I will miss your self-deprecating humour.

And to the rest of the branch, who are no less important to me, thank you for being a part of my life journey.


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ACCIDENTAL RAILJOB

Which one would you choose?

Sitting in your climate controlled car but crawling bumper to bumper in gridlocked traffic. ETA unknown.

Or…

Packed like sardines in an overcrowded train carriage with a broken thermostat. ETA dependent on the weather.

Neither? You work from home? You don’t need work? Your money grows on trees? I so so envy you.

If you’re like me and have to join the masses for the commute, and have chosen the train then you have my commiseration.

Why? Train rides are the worst; stifling heat from the masses in contained areas; recycled air filled with germs from hacking coughs and projectile sneezing; someone constantly sniffling or snorting their gunk; unpleasant smells. Let’s not forget the awkwardness of having someone in your personal space.

On my latest commute, the train system was in shambles due to track damage. This meant hordes of people converged on the platforms to get a coveted position in the carriages. I end up pushed along until I’m right in front of the disabled seats. I am standing so close to this seated woman that it borders on indecent. Being vertically challenged, my hand immediately skims the nearby handrails to hold myself upright. It’s prime real estate. I ready myself in a warrior stance to avoid toppling with the jerky movements of the train.

Not wanting to stare at the woman in my direct line of sight, I shift my gaze to people in the carriage. I’m immediately assaulted with the sight of a man oddly rubbing his phone on the thigh, incessantly, for what feels like an unseemly amount of time. He must really want a clean phone screen.

Feeling a bit perturbed, I look away and catch the sight of a woman putting on a full face of makeup. I’m amazed at her ability to put on eyeliner without stabbing herself in the eye. On a good day, I look like I’m playing a solo game of Twister against the mirror so I can’t imagine adding movement to that conundrum.

More people shuffle into the carriage. I take a deep fortifying breath. Regret courses through me when I take a whiff of body odour from the armpits of the man standing beside me. I’m just at the right height for maximum damage. I shuffle and do a one-eighty degree turn only to have a mouth breather in my face.

As I’m having my moment of existential crisis, I’m become aware of the feeling of material rubbing against my knuckles and glance down.

“What the fudging hell?”

A giant man is standing near me, his crotch leaning against the handrail, which just so happened to have my hand wrapped around it. The swaying movement of the train meant that I was giving this giant a railjob. I look up and continued looking up till I reach the man’s face. I can feel myself blushing. He hasn’t noticed. I try to discreetly move my hand but it’s jammed. It ain’t going anywhere.

“Ahem!” Nothing. Nada.

“Ahem! Ahem! Argh!” I say with more emphasis.

The man looks curiously down at me. I direct my gaze to the hostage situation and glance back to him. He jerks away from the rails and gives me an apologetic smile.

I give an involuntary shudder. I’m going to have to bleach my eyes and scrub my knuckles after this particular train ride.

The train doors open. My stop. I push and shove my way past the crowd to get through in time. The cool air hits my face, offering immediate respite. I take a breather.

You know that saying…do a good deed every day?

I think I reached my quota.

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LUNCH

Anyone on a budget would know that a surefire way of saving some coin is by packing your work lunch. People will tell you it’s healthier and there is the added bonus of reducing food wastage by eating leftovers. Plus health nuts will tell you that buying a salad drenched in salad dressing will give you a bunch of unwanted calories.

So being the good mum that I try to be, I pack myself an adult sized version of the kid’s school lunches.

A piece of fruit, some low-fat yoghurt, a ham salad sandwich, a handful of crackers and water. Done. Perfectly acceptable nutritious meal.

After all, being a parent means being a role model and you should practice what you preach right?

So as I stop into the bakery nearby work and grab myself a full cream mocha and an egg and bacon roll, I justify it to myself that it’s a necessary evil. I was too busy with the morning rush to have a proper breakfast. And we all know that having breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s ten dollars to the budget?

Lunch rolls around and I realise that I left my healthy lunch at home. Was my subconscious mind trying to sabotage my healthy eating? Probably.

I line up with the masses and order myself some overly priced rice paper rolls. If I have to buy lunch then I might as well treat myself. I’ve jumped into a pool of denial and it looks like I’m staying. What’s another fifteen dollars? We’ve blown the budget and the healthy diet anyway. I eat my oh-so yummy meal and push that twinge of guilt deep deep down.

The afternoon flunk creeps up on me and I need a chocolate. The very same chocolate I tell my daughter she shouldn’t have because there’s too much sugar and sugar is the damn devil!

I deliberate for all of about a minute on the pros and cons of unwanted calories. Oh heck! Who am I kidding? I’m eating that damn chocolate.

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