A year ago today was my last day of formal employment and I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on the year it’s been. As always seems the case, the past year seems both surprisingly short and exhaustingly long.
On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I walked out of the library for the last time. It was a painful walk. For reasons I can’t fully explain, my boss chose not to tell anyone I was leaving until a handful of days before my last even though I had given her three weeks’ notice. There was no goodbye party of any kind which wouldn’t have mattered except that there’d been so many for other people over the six and a half years of my employment. There was an email stating the name of the girl who’d be taking over my hours, and as many of my colleagues either didn’t check their email or didn’t read for comprehension, I finished my shift, walked downstairs, and clocked out with only a single, quiet “goodbye.” I managed to get to my car before any tears fell. I wish I could say that was all behind me, but it still stings, and I imagine it will continue to do so for a while. It also serves as a solid reminder of why I left and confirmation that I made the right decision.
I’ve managed to maintain this blog for almost a year now, which feels like a pretty good accomplishment. I haven’t posted quite as regularly as I had initially hoped, but it looks like this is my 96th post, which comes to almost two a week, which isn’t too shabby. I could dig through statistics more and apply more numbers to this, but I’m also trying to remind myself that readership doesn’t necessarily directly correlate to quality or worth. There are lots of content creators who reach a lot of people but create garbage, and lots of people who are really talented but almost completely unknown. I’m not saying I fit either of those categories, but I’m grateful for all of you who have popped in to see what I have to say (especially when you drop a like or comment so I know you weren’t just a bot crawling across the web).
I’ve written a little more on other projects as well, though not nearly as much as I intended when I first realized I had, against so much proverbial advice, quit my day job. But I’m plugging along, and that’s good, including taking the actual professional step of signing up for and watching a writing webinar. This was also the year when I was brave enough (on only a couple occasions, but more than not at all) answered that Quid Facis question, “What do you do?” with “I write.” It was always quickly qualified with dismissive statements, usually mumbled, because I don’t want to seem self-important. After all, I lived through the handful of years before social media really took off and every idiot with an internet connection touted their blog that was really going to say something unique and special. (If you missed that, it was the exact same thing as every white guy who “has a killer idea for a podcast” but with keyboards instead of impractically fancy microphone setups.) I still struggle when official forms ask me for my job, title, or field. “Self-employed” feels the most respectable, but does it really count as any kind of employment if I don’t make any money? And I write for entertainment purposes but I don’t feel like I’m part of the entertainment industry. As far as a title, I work for myself; I can have whatever title I like. Some days I’m the office manager. Others I’m the head writer. There are definitely days when I fill the role of the custodian.
I’ve had more adventures in the past year than I have in quite a while, including several trips to the lake last summer and expeditions to California, Kansas, and Arkansas. It might just been the promise of warmer weather, but I’m excited to get out there on my paddleboard again, something I tried last summer on a whim and found that I really enjoyed. I also found that writing about my paddleboarding adventures was very satisfying, regardless of whether the audience particularly enjoyed it.
There have been challenges over the past year as well though, perhaps most surprisingly with regard to socialization. I don’t require a lot of social interaction, but I knew that I would face considerable temptation to not leave the house if I didn’t really have to, and I have actually experienced that feeling of missing people without the daily onslaught of public. While I still haven’t found just the right balance of socialization, I have really enjoyed semi-regular get-togethers with a few of my favorite former coworkers and dinners with some of our neighbors. I think Kalen, being much more social than I am, has appreciated my increased willingness to accept such invitations, and we both look forward to those informal neighborhood parties.
I also managed to take better care of my health this past year and have lost about twenty pounds. I write about this with some hesitation because a) my weight isn’t really anybody’s business and b) there are so many unhealthy conversations out there about weight and body image. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their body regardless of that body’s size, shape, color, or configuration, and no one else’s opinion about someone else’s body really matters. That said, I was uncomfortable with weight I had gained over the last ten years, but especially since the pandemic, and while I would like to lose more and have had some hangups, I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I feel better in my own skin.
There are still days when the world feels a little darker than it should, but without the burden of an unhealthy work environment, the birds seem to sing a little louder and the flowers are a little more vivid. I am more confident in what I can accomplish as I recall the months-long debacle to get my defective oven replaced and my eventual, hard-won victory.
It’s been a year of healing and of growing, and I’m looking forward to chronicling another year’s worth of adventures. Thank you for sharing the journey with me.