Wednesday, April 11, 2012

on an easter story.

when i first moved to nyc i worked a lot of hours. long hours. and while it was similar to the internship that led me to the city in the first place, the company had been through a lot of changes while i took that last year to finish my degree. a lot of people i had worked with over the summer left the company. we changed buildings. changed names. changed size. changed cultures. a few weeks after i started, i knew i was going to be miserable. i knew it wasn't what i had signed up for. but i was going to make the best of it.
almost a year into it, easter happened.
i went into work on the morning of holy thursday and left at noon on good friday.
i went into work at nine a.m. on saturday and left at 6 a.m. on easter sunday.
i went back at 9 a.m. on easter sunday and left at midnight.
it's the only easter i never went to mass. or saw a family member. or a friend. or a loved one.
i distinctly remember the moment when i knew i was done. it was 4 a.m. easter morning. i was in a conference room high above bryant park. across from me was a woman, missing her daughter's first easter. next to me was my analyst, who had been working longer hours than everyone. on the phone was another woman, who's family came into town on thursday from the czech republic. she still hadn't seen them. our bosses sat down to dinner with their families and went to church and couldn't care less. sure, they answered e-mails and looked at drafts and dialed into conference calls, but their clueless nature spoke volumes.
it's not even like i made up my mind. the choice was beyond clear. it was just a fact.
this is not life.
this is not my future.
this is not a company that deserves my time.
my career will not be here.
i. am. done.
i was scared and, clearly, exhausted. the task of finding a new job - going on interviews, faking smiles, staying energetic, giving firm handshakes - seemed more than i could handle. but sometimes, the way our life goes is our choice. sometimes it's clear. sometimes it's not. sometimes it's an easy choice to make, sometimes it's hard. but we must remind ourselves sometimes - we have a choice.
every easter that's come since then, i think of that weekend. my easters' are never too cold and the travel is never too far and company is never boring. because i remember what i could be doing. and i want to cherish the life i have now. as simple or as mundane or as regular as my easter may seem, i know it's not. i know, as my train makes it way back into the city, passing skyscraper after skyscraper, someone is up there, working away, wishing for the simple and the mundane and the regular. thinking about their choices.
when i quit a month later, i remember one of my bosses' telling me,
"can you believe it? after all the work you did to get here. all the time you invested. and just like that, in one day, you're done."
i faintly smiled and said
"i know. and thank god for that."
and then i walked out of her office, free and happy and moving on to a life i could be proud of.
i think it was the right choice.


  1. Oh gosh, I can definitely relate. I hope one day I can be as strong as you are. There are times when one can be so busy with the job that they have that they completely loose that sense of self, they loose touch with life.

  2. While my hours were never that crazy, I do understand work being first and all else being second. It made me sick and not myself. Now I work 40 hours a week. It is for much less money but I have weekends and go to yoga after work. It is good to be happy

  3. wow thanks for sharing your story! Sometimes taking the wrong path leads us to whats ultimately the right one for us! You did the right thing!

    xoxo Nina

  4. I felt exactly the same way when I quit my similarly soul-sucking job. Good for you for realizing what's important in life!

  5. You did the right thing, and Im so glad you realised what is important because some people never do!

  6. Best. Answer. Ever. I hope her jaw dropped! Good for you, Colleen!

  7. Good on you for giving an awesome parting shot! I know work is a necessary evil but I value quality of life more than anything in the world so I absolutely think you did the right thing. I recently read an article about a nurse who cares for elderly people in their final years and she said that the most common regret she hears is that people wish they had worked less and spent more time with their family. I think that will always stay with me.

    1. i read that, too - it definitely hit home.

  8. Colleen I am so glad that you left that job! What a difficult decision to make, but at the same time not. I think it takes a really strong person to really know what they want in life, but then also to make the choices that will lead them there. I'm glad you can spend your weekends now with the boy, eating delicious food and wearing fabulous heels all the while!

  9. Colleen I had one of those moments too when I was living in New York! Life is so much more than just work! Definitely a great story! xoxo

  10. I loved this post. And I'm so glad you were so brave-- that couldn't have been easy!

    I think I need to have Zan read this-- he doesn't love his job and he might like to read of someone else's story!


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