It was 9:30 on a Friday and I was having the meeting with HR. Everytime we had worked together in the past it had been great so it felt particularly awkward to be having an exit interview with them.
It was over 10 years working there and it matters to me to leave without any burnt bridges and showing the utmost respect for everyone. Having said that, it also makes a statement when you are leaving without any plans in terms of career. There was a lingering question on whereas I was unsatisfied with work or colleagues.
The person I was meeting though really got me, though, and understood my wish to find out what else is out there (now out here) and to want to dedicate more time and energy to those I care about.
As part of the protocol, you have to return your equipment because it’s actually not yours (no matter how many times you fell asleep while using it or how much you took care of it throughout the years) and security measures must be taken to all of it.
Being an introvert and feeling overwhelmed, I avoided any sort of goodbye parties, gatherings and, in fact, any kind of interaction at all. It was possibly seen as a bit rude and cold but, hey, it’s your last day – you should live it as you think it’s better.
The toughest part was to return the badge. Fortunately, you can just drop it in a box at the reception so the dramatic feeling of it is somewhat spared and lived in a more private manner.
I was, however, holding it in my hands for quite a while. That badge was always with me. Whenever I went to work, every day, it would open doors to let me in and start working. But there’s more to it. It would open the doors to any office around the world. This means I would take the badge with me whenever I was on vacation. If something happened during a vacation, I knew I would still be able to enter an office and have access to internet, water, food, a sofa to sleep on and even a phone – even if it was in the middle of the night on a Sunday.
This badge was a magic key to work but also to safety around the world. As I dropped the badge in the box, I couldn’t help the cheesy movement of caressing the box and wish it well, just as I let go of one of the biggest symbols of my identity – my work and the company I lived for.
I went outside and the sun was shining and warm. It didn’t fit the mood, dramatic and overwhelmed. There should have been a thunderstorm with a rainbow over the clouds.
Still, I felt a mixture of nostalgia, freedom and a realization that an important chapter of my life had just started.
I was expecting fireworks and a big reaction but, no, I was too tired emotionally and phisically so I ended up just going home. It was too much to just stop and sit down – the emotions would just eat me alive. Instead, I ended up making myself busy by doing some paperwork (what could be less emotionally demanding, anyway?) and letting things slowly start processing in the background.