On feelings of dread, campus drive-bys, and gratefulness

April 23, 2012

My typical day to day comings and goings don’t take me past the campus of the corporation where I used to work. It’s not too far from our house, but just doesn’t happen to be in a direction that I drive towards for grocery store runs or coffee shop appointments or trips to Babies ‘R Us.

It has been more than two years since I gave up the cubicle life and gained my time freedom, and for a long time after I turned in that badge, on the rare occasions that I would end up driving by the campus, that old, familiar feeling of dread would hit me like a ton of bricks.

That feeling. Ugh.

I gave my two weeks notice in January of 2010, and every day before then, for at least a year or two, I would make that drive to work twice every day; once in the morning and the second time on the way back from lunch in the afternoon.

Every day, two times a day, at some point upon my approach to the campus, my heart would sink. The feeling of dread would rise briefly in my chest, bringing with it a side dish of anxiety, and it would remind me.

Hello Annie, remember me? This is how you feel about working in this place.

As my experience into full-time self employment stretched on into 2010 and 2011, those feelings were just as strong as they were when I was still on the corporate payroll. Fortunately, I only had to endure them once every month, maybe two, when I randomly found myself in the specific corner of town the campus occupied.

I remember several instances when I realized I would be driving by, logically started thinking thoughts of gratefulness and even fondness at the place where I spent the majority of my twenties, but then BAM, there it would be.

Hello Annie, remember how suffocated and unfulfilled you used to feel? Don’t forget. Here’s your reminder.

Half my brain was thinking grateful thoughts to be in the position I was in: self-employed, enjoying my time freedom, financially secure all on my own.

The other half was revolting against the logic and remembering only the way it used to feel: stuck, unhappy, unfullfilled.

Over the past two years, I used these feelings as reminders of how much more unhappy I was in that place than I ever realized. As reminders of how much more grateful I was to be in the position that I was the in than I ever thought I could be. How deep-down that cubicle had affected me.

Yesterday, I unexpectedly drove by the campus.

And I felt…nothing.

Well, I felt grateful. Logically.

Oh hey, there’s campus. Hope all is well with my former team. Glad I am where I am!

But that was it.

It took more than two years to dispel the feelings of unhappiness and dread and suffocation that the physical location of that campus used to stir up in me. More than two years to quiet that piece of my spirit.

So yet again, I find myself grateful. Even more so. For if it took me two years to dispel those feelings, how many more were they really stirring around before I even began to notice them?

How many other people are working there, or anywhere, and aren’t perfectly happy with their situation?

How many others might not even realize they aren’t perfectly happy with their situation?

I hope I can work on finding out.

What are you grateful for this Monday? Big or small, it all counts!

To freedom,

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