Whew. Eight years I worked there.
I was talking with my cousin last week, she's a college fresh-out working in corporate America, traveling quite a bit, putting in crazy hours and putting in crazy dollars to her 401K. She's far more intelligent and ambitious than I, it was really cool to chat with her and be inspired that I'm related to such a young woman.
It made me think of my first year on the job. The excitement, the nerves. What it felt like to learn the culture of a work place, being surrounded by adults with more experience than me. It was invigorating.
Talking to her was the first time in six months I had a slight itch for my old life. I loved working. Especially traveling. And earning. And being a meaningful contributor to something big and important, part of a team of grownups, under pressure with deadlines and demands and stress and big rewards.
But the itch was not like a mosquito bite itch that lingers for days and days, more like a feather landed on me and then immediately blew away. Fleeting, leaving no trace.
Working in that world formed me so much. It enabled the lifestyle that I became accustomed to -- some good things, some bad. It taught me to interact with people professionally and organize the tasks on my plate -- which doesn't necessarily translate to managing a house or parenting a toddler, but it does help with managing my small photography business. I saved up healthily, so that was pretty cool, but it wasn't just about the money. It was the independence, the autonomy, the empowerment. I had a great job, working with great people. I was doing it. All by myself.
I am thankful for my short career and how it impacted my young-adult life. I hope to always embody the traits that helped me succeed there, and I hope I never forget what it was like to put on grown-up clothes and deliver a presentation to the superiors that made me nervous; or get on an airplane by myself to a city I'd never been to, with two laptops and two business suits in tow, crossing my fingers that none of said superiors would be on my same flight and see me traveling in sweatpants. I hope my brain never turns to mush. That I'm always good at proofreading an email or a resume for someone else, or always quick to come up with a better word for conveying an idea. I hope I've still got it when I've been out of the workplace for a year, five years, ten.
I loved my career.
But I don't miss it. Not one bit.
It's that all by myself thing. That's what changed. Now there's a Dan, and a Penny, and a melon-in-my-belly. I wouldn't trade anything about my life now to go back to anything I was doing when it was just me by myself.
I'm thankful for it all.