Even when you live and breathe through every nook and cranny of a big change or transition… the overwhelming beauty of the process still makes your heart swell with joy and your eyes leak a few tears.
This evening’s practice with Madia helped me burn through some of the nervous energy I had been dancing around all day. Work found me catching up with other editors, and some new editors, about the details of account transitions. Those conversations, combined with giving my well wishes to team members I’ve worked with for over three years, helped me realize how far I’ve come as a professional, as a writer, as an editor and as a communicator.
The amount I’ve learned and grown can’t be quantified with numbers, letters or by years: I know my post on Facebook was a silly way to recount this experience as a young professional, but it’s true. Three and a half years, two positions, four desks, numerous officemates, probably 20 clients, 400 magazines, 800 trips to Starbucks or Chattz, about as many bike rides to and from work… the relationships I’ve built, the lessons I’ve realized, the experience I gained… all resulting in my realization to USE and APPLY my skills and knowledge to nearly anything I do?
That’s worthy of shedding a few happy tears. For my accomplishments, for my courage to move on to what’s next for me, for my ability to leave on a positive note, and for… well, whatever’s next.
I used to sling groceries for work in high school; first as an innocent little cashier at the BiLo down the street from my house, which at the time was also where I got my FAKE NAILS done—see?! All kinds of truths come out!! It wasn’t until a manager from Greenlife, at the time located in Riverview, walked in BiLo and offered me a job that I started my process of what I’ll just call awakening, Catholic high school style. Working at Greenlife not only exposed me to health food and a different way of caring for our bodies, but I made amazing friendships. I still see and interact—and have even gone on to have relationships with—some the clientele from the cool old neighborhood store. It helped establish the North Chattanooga community for me. I’ve been living and playing in this neighborhood on and off since 2001.
After moving to Memphis and eventually Knoxville, the values that my family and little Greenlife community helped instill lived on. I had a few forgettable part-time jobs, but I’ll never forget the solid month (if that!) during college when I worked at the Fresh Market in Bearden. Having my Greenlife background, I was insulted that “gourmet” grocery stores existed. The NERVE of this corporation to call themselves special, charge ridiculous prices and still not really sell the best of the best foods? Why even bother shopping there, I thought, and why even bother standing on my feet behind a register for nine hours at a time selling Coca-Cola products and plastic-looking bakery items.
So I walked out on my lunchbreak one day and decided not to come back. It wasn’t worth it, I had said to myself, to keep working there. Being me, though, I had taken the bus to work that day, and alas, I sat at the bus stop crying and waiting for the next arrival for nearly an hour. The on-duty manager called me twice to try to convince me to come back in and at least finish my shift, but I couldn’t go back in at that point. Hell, the bus would’ve come by then. She told me, though, that my decision to walk out would have serious implications on my future jobs down the road.
Still, to this day, I don’t regret walking out of that job. Walking out did have serious implications for me—I realized that I have been lucky enough to have some sort of choice in what I do to keep the lights on, and I also realized that I have the maturity and communication skills to head-off problems before they arise.
What I take away more from that experience, though, is my need to pursue work opportunities and a career path that I’m PASSIONATE about. I’m fortunate to say that almost every job after that ill-fated stint at Fresh Market has held great value to me, either as an opportunity to hone my skills as a writer and editor, to further my knowledge and network as someone interested in holistic health, or some combination of both of those passions. Work, and my job and past jobs, has become something that enhances, not burdens, my life.
Tomorrow, I will finalize a draft, let’s say, to one chapter of my life that saw me through a really crucial period of growth personally, professionally and in my community. I welcome with open arms the exciting new experience ahead, though I can’t be more grateful for the people who helped shape and contribute to the past three and a half years. I’m so special to receive such blessings.