The big news in my life right now is that I have accepted a new job. I realize this type of thing happens to people all the time, and for many it’s not a big deal, but I tend to find a place and dig in and never leave. The only reason I left my last job is because the company closed. The job before that I left to have a baby. The job before that was because my husband finished grad school and we moved 3,000 miles. I’ve only had 4 jobs in my adult life. I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t gone to college if I’d still be working in the town library (my much-beloved high school job.)
All this to say, this is the first time in my life I am voluntarily leaving a place I love to go work somewhere else. It is rocking me to my core in all sorts of ways.
Let me back up.
Many of you know, I am currently the director of a school age child care program in a town about 15 miles from my house. I've been there five years and really like it. I had no intention of going anywhere.
Then back in July, I was reading email from the superintendent of schools in the town where I live - one of those general mid-summer updates to all the parents in the district, talking about progress on various goals. In this email, he announces that the long-standing director of the after-school program has retired, and that the position is being totally re-vamped into a much larger leadership position for the district. Intrigued, I clicked through to the details of the job posting, and immediately realized, they are looking for ME.
So I applied, and then spent the next two months worrying and feeling guilty and conflicted, while waiting to get called for an interview. (My family might point out that “worry” is a bit of an understatement. I was a wreck.) The interview process kept getting delayed due to more pressing school district issues. My nerves got increasingly frayed. Finally, two weeks ago I got the call, and then very quickly proceeded through a series of increasingly demanding interviews, until at last, I was offered the job last Thursday.
I will be doing very similar work – coordinating before-and-after school care within public school buildings – but on a much larger scale. My current company is a small non-profit who holds a contract with a school district. In my new job, I’ll be a school district employee, and I’ll have many new responsibilities in terms of community outreach, collaborating with other town programs, and innovating new ideas for learning that takes place outside of traditional school hours. It’s a fantastic job, and wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth. The best part of all this? It’s my home town. The town in which I grew up and was educated. The town I moved back to ten years ago so that we could raise Max here. The town I love. This is a dream job, and a perfect fit. It feels like every choice I’ve made in my career up to this point has led me to this place. I’m incredibly excited.
BUT….I have to say goodbye to a community of people I’ve grown to love, and I’m terrible at letting go.
I’ve got four weeks to tie up all the loose ends in my current job, and jump through all the pre-employment hoops in my new job. I spent all day last Friday telling my staff and my board members. Monday was a day full of strategy meetings, planning how to conduct the search for my replacement. Yesterday was the email announcement to all the parents of the kids in the program. The predictable pattern of response to this news has been shock, followed by disappointment, followed by “but I am so happy for you” followed by “but I’m so sad for us.” I dance between grief and gratitude all day long. I remind myself how boring and empty life would be if I didn’t feel and care so much.
There will be lots to do in the next four weeks, and I expect my days will be long. It feels great, after nearly 3 months of worry and secrecy, to be able to move forward. I’m much better when I have a plan. It’s hard to predict what role art will play in this. The weeks of not-knowing paralyzed me creatively. I drew inward, and took comfort in books and movies. It’s no surprise that I finally got my art mojo back the day I completed the interview cycle. I still didn’t know if I had the job, but I had given it everything I had, and I finally had room for something else.
Meanwhile, I bought frames for two of my favorite pieces, with the intention of hanging them in my new office. Whether or not I have much time for art in the next four weeks, the pieces are leaning against the wall, ready to go, and reminding me that my creative and professional lives are both a big part of who I am, and are not mutually exclusive.