This week I changed jobs. Moving onward and upward, I accepted a position with a wonderful company in town that promises to stretch and grow my professional skills. I am thrilled with the opportunity and excited to be moving forward.
But with moving to something new, I also left something old. I left a job I have been at for almost four years. And with my job transition, I've come to realize that it's a strange and uncomfortable experience to leave a place you have been at for a long time. In my office, I was the only person who did my job, the only person who knew my work, and the only person responsible for raising almost 50% of the small organization's operating budget. Sometimes I felt irreplaceable... and that felt important. But, then I gave notice, and things changed. One day I was very, very relevant to the organization. Suddenly, I was hardly important at all. Decisions were made without my consultation. Plans moved forward without my help. Coworkers stopped talking to me - both about work and socially. I guess they felt their efforts at inclusion were no longer worth their effort.
Now, logically, I understand why these things happened. I was no longer relevant to the organization. But still, it was a real blow to the ego to realize just how quickly my existence in a place could be snuffed. I mean, four years of hard work, of effort, of exceptional performance in which I invested both my professional efforts, but also personal emotional energy. Then "bam!"... nothing.
Through the process, I was reminded of exactly how unimportant and disposable we all are to the majority of the world. But, I was also was reminded of those relationships that do matter. To just a few people in this world, I am beloved. And to me, there are just a few people who I cherish. My husband, my sisters, my parents, my very dearest and closest friends - to these people I am somebody, always. I am important to their lives, always. I am a part of their existence, always. And I am replaceable by no one else, always. Being reminded of this small but esteemed clan of people helped me recognize that a true, deep-rooted, and sincere value of self is not rooted in our professional lives, but in our personalize ones.
Most of us put so much energy into our jobs. Of course, a paycheck acknowledges our efforts. But I think the human condition sort of hopes that in the long-term, our efforts and exertions for our work will contribute to more than our bills. The emotional investment - the personal accountability, the times of stress and worry, the efforts to excel beyond expectation - these are investments that can never be repaid with money, and can never be reclaimed once spent. But the truth is that work cannot and will not repay personal investments their full worth. The only compensation true enough to repay the emotional effort we expend is from those we love, and who love us back. So spend your efforts where the rewards are greatest. Where the rewards are truest. And where the reward - be it the tiniest smiled of a loved one at a moment shared, or the grandest acknowledgment of impacting a life beloved to you through years of relationship efforts - runs deep and true and respected to the very end, and then beyond. Always.
In the end, work will never love you very much, and you should never love it more than those you truly love. To those I love, know that I love you more.