Ah ah ahem. AHEM.
Dear Former Employer,
You stuck me in this thing for six and a half years:
For that, I will never be the same.
I learned in that cloth-lined fortress.
I learned so much.
I learned that, in business, you can’t always be all of yourself. I got into trouble for using sarcasm with another employee. I taped a piece of paper with the words BROWN NOSE written on it to my laptop’s keyboard for a year.
You have to hold back a bit.
Professional, unfortunately, means limiting the personal.
I learned how to communicate, how to be clear and concise and convincing.
I learned how to be truthful, and how to stop apologizing for things that did not require apologies. A typical girl, I was determined not to be.
I learned how to accept instructions with a nod. No less, no more. Don’t give them anything.
I learned team dynamics, how to lead without being the titled leader, and when to sit and leave the leading to others.
I learned what matters.
And what doesn’t.
I learned how much above and beyond Above And Beyond meant. I won the awards, then felt simultaneously proud of myself and embarrassed that I hadn’t allowed someone else earn it instead. Someone who cared.
I learned what it feels like to suddenly realize that this is not what you want for the rest of your life. To be scared that you don’t care anymore. Because you want to care. Don’t you?
I learned how a simple, striking realization can change everything.
Everything, everything, everything.
I learned what dread felt like, laying in bed on Sunday nights.
I learned what guilt felt like, jumping out of my chair at 5:01pm, knowing that I didn’t give it my all that day.
I learned who I was, and who I wasn’t.
Six and a half years, I learned. Last week, I remembered.
I remembered the business suit-clad 22 year-old who, eight years ago last week, arrived for her first day an hour and fifteen minutes early. She was so excited. I remembered the feeling of closing one door and opening another from eighteen months ago, when that corporate chapter came to an end.
Around and round.
So, my Former Employer, this is my letter to you. You know who you are. I’m not going to say thanks, but simply, I remember.
Six and a half years.