The Blind Date
Twelve years ago Alan and I did the “quit my job” action in California and decided to just up and move to North Carolina. It was mid April and we took a few days to drive around CA and NV to say goodbye to family and friends. Then we were on the road for about 5-6 days crossing from West Coast to East in our Jeep. We covered nearly all of our journey on interstate 40 and enjoyed our trip. Our belongings were shipped as well as our other car. We booked a town home on-line in the RTP area of North Carolina. We heard this was a good area for IT jobs, so we just randomly picked a location sight unseen.
We arrived at our new town home rental and began looking for jobs. We weren’t too aggressive, as we hoped to kind of enjoy the summer too. I hooked up with a recruiting company and went on a few interviews. I needed to research each company as I was mainly familiar with the big IT out west. RTP was a different kind of mix for me. Wouldn’t you know it, within a couple of weeks I had a job and began work on May 9, 2000. It was a contract job, but it was a foot in the door at an amazing Pharma company. I was so excited and hoped that this would turn into something long term. They were global, so that was a must to ensure we could one day work abroad.
Life is good
After just a year, I was promoted to team lead and life was good. This wasn’t just a job, it was a great environment and a fun place to work. I made great friends and was beginning to expand our social circle. Also during this time, Alan and I were able to buy a wonderful home and purchase our first puppy together (Baker). Things were great and we were building a wonderful life in NC.
I am the type of person that thrives off of change and learning new things and I always made this known in my work place. About every 18 month – 2yrs it seemed like magic that opportunities would arise for me to make a change and have my career grow at this great Pharma Company. I loved work and especially all of the people I worked with. This wasn’t just a job, it was energizing and fun every day. Our personal life was blossoming as well, as we expanded from just a puppy to also having 2 wonderful children. We continued to fill our home and our lives with all that was part of the “American Dream”.
Our paths begin to part
What more could we ask for? I was on top of the world at work and things were going well. Then one day, it hits me that I am working more and more and taking some of the stress home. There were many changes underfoot at work and typically this is what I love. This time it felt as if things were shifting in a new direction. I felt as though I was getting more and more into a niche area at work. All I really wanted was the chance for a global opportunity. I still loved work and my counterparts, but also wanted to spend more time with the kids. I also didn’t want to forget our dream of living/working abroad.
In late summer 2011, it finally was clear to me. At no time in the near future would I be working internationally for this company. Certainly not during our desired timeline, prior to the kids being in middle school. I started to allow myself to divorce from the love of work. I didn’t want work to be my identity. It was time to take a pause and really do some soul-searching. I enjoyed about 11 1/2 years of living this great life and working at a wonderful place, but we made our decision to pursue our personal dreams. (you can read more about this in the “About Us” section).
So here I am knowing we have plans to leave the country, but when do I tell people at work? We just have plans to leave, but nothing is firm. When is it okay to share in our fun, but not disturb the wonderful balance of working every day? A few months go by after the decision and I begin to discuss with a few people the concept of “wouldn’t it be nice to live abroad?”. Not really telling that we planed to do this, but just feeling them out. Eventually, I inform a couple of people of our plan. This was top-secret as there were a million moving parts that needed to fall into place over the next 9-12 months. The kids of course informed all of their friends at first discussion, back in the early Fall.
As of November 2011, each day I am finding it extremely difficult to contain myself. I just want to tell the world, but I don’t want anyone to think that I have a “short timers” attitude or that my performance would slack off at work in any way. I was very torn and this is a rough line to walk. I made sure I was working just as hard as ever and that I was still very dedicated. It was all great at work, and in December I found out I was being placed into a year-long leadership program starting in January. This wasn’t just any program, it was for just a limited few per year. The chance for the career ladder to extend to new heights. What timing? Just after we made the decision to let it all go (for 1-2 yrs).
Oh, the dilemma in my mind. Do we change our plans and see where the career goes? Do we continue with our plan? Alan and I discussed and we wanted to continue with the personal plan. Do I tell them now that I hope to not complete the full year at work, thus giving up this leadership spot? Nothing for our dream was solid yet, we were still gathering paperwork to apply for visas. There was no guarantee that our dream would come true. I decided it was best to keep on with work as if nothing was going on in our personal lives. It was the only way to stay focused and ensure that I still had a good job if our personal plans somehow fell through. I was so appreciative of all of the opportunities presented during my time at work, so this was difficult.
Late March 2012, we took a scoping trip to Spain for Spring Break. We wanted to be sure that it was going to be a good fit for us all as well as narrow down the region to set up our home. I had to flat-out lie to so many people at work and just tell them we were going to Spain because flights were cheap. The cheap flights were true, but who just hops over to Europe for a week? How long could I keep up the charade? I felt as though I was betraying friends. I didn’t like the feeling.
The Break Up – I quit my job
In early April, I decided I couldn’t take it any more. Things were working like clockwork with our plans to move and it felt as if it was all starting to fall into place. I needed to be honest with work and let them know my plans. I loved the leadership program and I just didn’t like feeling dishonest. I let my boss know of my plans and needed to assure him that my leaving wasn’t really work related. My career was great and booming in a direction that was different from my personal plans. Personal and career plans used to be aligned and at this moment they were moving apart. We wanted to live abroad and my success at work wasn’t giving us that dream. It was the “Let’s be friends” breakup, but I really did mean it. I loved all of the people I worked with and having them be part of my daily life. I would love to keep everyone as friends.
We didn’t plan to leave the country until August, so the smart thing to do was continue working until we had our flights booked. On the flip side, I really wanted to enjoy all of the kids activities the last few weeks of school. Every year I miss most activities, because it isn’t good to leave this project or that meeting at work. We had just placed the house on the market a few weeks prior and I was certain it would sell in time for us to move out by June 1. I also wanted to have a good summer with the kids while taking care of all of the “moving prep”. So, I went ahead and gave a months formal notice at work. Two days later we received an offer on our house and we accepted. Wow, it was almost like I needed to let go of one life in order for the other to move on. The topper was that our closing date was May 30th, just as we had hoped. This gave us the opportunity to rent a temp apartment for exactly 3 months, which was the minimum lease time.
The word is out
The word got out at work and now more people knew I was leaving.The reality was setting in that we are moving forward with our plans. Each day more people found out, so now I was “exposed”. I wasn’t sure how others would take it. I felt as if I was a big disappointment for my management chain, as they were “counting on me”. I felt so much guilt for leaving my boss with the workload, as he wasn’t able to replace my position. It would have been kind of me to just keep working to the last-minute, but I needed to do what was best for our personal plans. Many people approached me with questions/comments. Some kindly thought we were nuts, some just wondered “why?”, but I was astounded by the number of people who found it inspiring. So many emotions ran through me as most people were excited for our plans, but sad I was leaving.
I left my job in Mid May and it was very bittersweet. I loved the energy and hustle/bustle and the wonderful relationships. I tried to keep in my mind that this wasn’t a good-bye, but a see ya later kind of thing. We’re planning to be away 1-2 yrs and return. I am not sure if that is realistic, but it helped me get through the good byes. Each and every hug brought tears to my eyes and I just had to think about our dream and why we are doing this to ourselves. Many times, I couldn’t even bring myself to say goodbye. I would sugar coat and put on a good facade. I feel like I have done this so many times before in my life before that I could do it again. This time was no different, but we had been in NC for so many years and relationships were very strong.
“Let’s be friends”
My hopes are that you will stay in touch with us and follow our blog. So please do let us be part of your life too. Go ahead and make comments on the blog or Facebook. Drop us an email or Skype call.
Thanks for all of the memories, laughs and hugs!
Some good times with friends from work: