It’s been one year and nine months since I changed my phone number. And I know you still get messages and phone calls from people expecting to find me at the other end. I know this, because you’ve asked them–if they find me–to tell me that there are a lot of people looking for me at that number, which now belongs to you.
It just happened last week. I was at a conference and someone with your number, which used to be my number, texted you to let you know that I should meet them on the 22nd floor instead of the hotel lobby. You probably didn’t respond. You probably already knew it was for me.
There are many facts of life and one of them is that people change jobs.
There are a few reasons that people change jobs–they move, they get laid off, they get a better job–but there’s one constant to the act of job changing, and that is that people are always sad to leave.
I never watched the final season of “The Office” when it aired but I suppose that’s just as well because over the last two weeks it has been my dinner table companion. If you haven’t seen the final season of “The Office” I won’t spoil too much for you. But I will say that in wrapping up the show that final season, every reason you would ever leave an office happens: some move, others get laid off and still others get a better job. And there’s crying into cake, goodbye dance parties, promises to stay in touch…the usual components that come along with the act of leaving.
We all know that sometimes it is our friends leaving and sometimes it is us who will leave, but when it comes right down to it, it’s part of our shared human experience that transitions will happen.
So why–when we know this is coming be it tomorrow or next month or next year–why do we struggle to balance the sadness of leaving something behind with the excitement of starting something new?
I’m leaving National Journal. My first real job out of college, where I succeeded and stumbled, figuring out who I was and what I was capable of. I started out on the health care beat, where after a month and a half on the job, HealthCare.gov debuted and crashed and I spent the rest of the fall covering what would become the 2013 AP News Story of the Year.
From there I transitioned to covering Congress, studying the faces of lawmakers on the long metro commute to Capitol Hill only to realize that they’re all much older now than when their directory photos were taken. I quickly took to the foreign policy beat, writing about the one issue that will keep on going even when the political parties can’t agree on how deal with it. And it’s been a busy summer too; between the advances of ISIS in Iraq, Russia’s encroachment (invasion?) of Ukraine and the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, each story that it feels like I was there for from the start will keep on going until it morphs into the next chapter.
It’s been a good run. I walk away having learned who’s the friendliest face in the Senate, why the U.S. can’t keep its boots off the ground in the Middle East, and how to challenge charges from my health insurance company. I’ll miss my friends, my colleagues, my editors, and Rosita, the woman makes sure there’s coffee waiting for our tired souls as we start each day. I won’t miss the never-ending PR emails or the vitriolic commenters.
I’m headed to Green Buzz Agency. My second real job and I can’t keep my face from lighting up when people ask me about it. I’m going to be the new Assistant Producer, working on corporate client videos and expanding our film work into original documentaries. I’ll be doing everything from researching to interviewing to script writing to working on set to editing, but I’ll also be writing the blog, public speaking, managing the intern program and planning events. It’s a start-up, so I get to wear a lot of hats, and with such a small team, my input will really shape the direction and the success of our work. And it’s going to be a lot of work. But multimedia storytelling is where my heart has always been, and I’m so thrilled about the chance to build my creative visual skills. I’ll still be in the D.C. area, so despite the fact that I’m leaving, it’s not really goodbye.
It still feels like it though. It’s a strange limbo, knowing you are closing the door, knowing what you’re saying goodbye to, but not having the familiar comfort of knowing what comes next.
In the final season of “The Office,” people who had left come back. They weren’t gone forever, they were just doing something else, having their own adjacent narrative.
A new adventure.
And you can see it in their eyes. They’re really happy.