Maybe I won’t submit my job resignation after all.

Quick, get out of here fast before they ask you about all the contracts you manage!

Quick, get out of here fast before they ask you about all the contracts you manage!

I knew the day would come that I would have to inform my employer of my impending departure. I’ve never left a job before, so I didn’t even know where to start. With the help of my boss (who’s known of my plans), I decided to give a month and a half’s notice. That way I would provide plenty of time to transition over my responsibilities and avoid the perception of a hit and run.

I’ll tell you, though, this was not an easy decision. In my over five years with the company, the vast majority of coworkers that have left were asked not to return the following day to finish out their two weeks. Keep in mind that generally these people were either fired or leaving to work for a competitor, but it still made me nervous that I might become unemployed sooner than I anticipated.

P-p-p-please don't be mad at me. ...oh wait, I'm not the first person who's ever quit before?

P-p-p-please don’t be mad at me. …oh wait, I’m not the first person who’s ever quit ?

On January 15, I took the first of two steps: I told the HR woman, who also happens to be a friend. In my head, I knew she would be objective and able to provide advice on how to approach my resignation. But in my heart, I worried that she would feel resentful that I’d kept this big (huge! gigantic!) secret from her for four and a half months.

I went into her office, closed the door, and sat down. I took an audible breath to calm my nerves, even voiced to her my anxiety, and then came out with it. Her expression was relatively placid, neither skeptical nor discontent, which is what I had feared. Big sigh.

We spent the next hour and a half talking through the process of resignation as well as my future plans. Based on the information she presented, we concluded that it would be best if my last day of work were February 28. That’s the day I’ll officially be moving out of my apartment, but I wasn’t sure if March 1 would have been better so that I’d have health insurance for the short window before I leave. I learned that, if something were to come up, I could retroactively pay for COBRA for up to 45 days and be covered. It’s expensive but not a bad emergency option. That way I won’t have to needlessly pay my portion (a couple hundred dollars) of health insurance for March.

The best part of the conversation is when she – completely unprovoked – said she understood why I hadn’t told her sooner. Guilt assuaged. I left the conversation much relieved and feeling more confident for the next step: telling the senior VP in charge of the office.

Hm, who does this fellow remind me of? (P.S. - A high five for anyone who knows the movie this character's in.)

Hm, who does this fellow remind me of? (P.S. – A high five for anyone who knows the movie this character’s in.)

The senior VP is one of these guys that’s nearly impossible to read. I think I read people really well, so when I come across a man or woman like this, I find it incredibly frustrating. I’ve always believed he thinks well of me – in fact, he’s said as much directly to my face several times – but his facial expressions and intonations do not reflect the sentiment (nor any other sentiment, for that matter).

So I was nervous to talk to him because I didn’t know how he would react. Have I mentioned confrontation isn’t my strong suit?

The following day, after a pep talk from my boss, I knocked on the senior VP’s door and asked for some face time. After closing the door and sitting down, I found myself struggling to maintain eye contact. It’s like I was sent to the principal’s office in high school (if that ever happened, which it didn’t…because I’m a goody two shoes nerd).

And then I just said it.

“I wanted to let you know that I will be resigning from my position as of the last day in February. I’m going to take a hiatus from working to hike the Appalachian Trail.”

His response?

“I think that’s such a neat thing you’re doing. I’ll be sad to lose you, but you’ll have a great time. My cousin hiked it years ago…”

Wow. Not what I expected. And it gets better. Later on:

“Are you sure you want to resign? Especially in this economy, it’s not the best to have a gap in your resume. What about staying on the company payroll as a consultant. You could work an hour here and there. We could come up with a bill rate that makes sense. That way, you get paid for any support you provide, and you’re still technically an employee. Even if you don’t come back, it’ll be better for you and better for us to have you as a resource.”

“What?! I didn’t know that was possible.”

“Anything’s possible. Think it over and let me know what you decide.”

“I don’t have to think it over. I would absolutely love that option.”

“OK, well draft something up that specifies your intentions and the type of support you might be able to provide (as needed), and we’ll get it up the chain for approval.”

It looks like I can have my (A.T.) cake and eat it too.

It looks like I can have my (A.T.) cake and eat it too.

So, I went from anxiety to exhilaration in a matter of minutes. The conversation was about thirty minutes long, and we discussed my plans for the trail, what I may want to do when I’m done, and how we’ll transition my responsibilities between now and when I leave. And just yesterday, I got final approval to become a part-time, as-needed employee.

What a relief.

And you know what else? I must’ve hit a nerve with the senior VP because, for a fleeting moment, I actually got him to crack a smile.

Meandering on,



26 thoughts on “Maybe I won’t submit my job resignation after all.

  1. That’s awesome news. My job is one of the few things keeping me from doing something like this. Having a mortgage doesn’t help much either. Btw, how do you plan on getting to Georgia and Amicalola Falls?

    • I totally understand. Leaving my job (and paycheck!) was a hard one to get over mentally.

      I plan to fly to Atlanta and then get a ride from the Hiker Hostel.

  2. Congratulations! This is great news, and I’m happy for you. And you have just proven my theory (one which took me MANY years to arrive at, btw) that the anxiety and worry over an impending event or decision is usually SO much worse than the reality. I don’t know why we do that to ourselves. Well, I do know, but that doesn’t make it work any better. Just think…your bosses and fellow employees could have been one more cheering section for you all this time. But now, at least you know they support you, and best of all, you still have a job. Your heart must be a lot lighter today!

    • You hit the nail on the head, Marcia. I always build up confrontation in my head to make it so much worse than it actually is. I am getting better as I get older, but I care what people will think about me. Good news: at least I’m not a sociopath. ; )

      • Within reason, caring what people think about you is usually a good thing, so you’re cool on that one. Assuming they will think the worst…not so much so. And imagining all the awful ways it could turn out almost always turns out to have been a waste of time and a lot of worry for nothing. It took me forever to figure this out, but hopefully, you are getting the idea MUCH quicker than I did. I’m so happy your co-workers are behind you now!

      • I think you are doing a much better job than I did. You are certainly figuring it all out at an earlier age. It took me the better part of sixty years to let go of some of these fears. Good for you!

  3. Congratulations! I was drawn in with the first few lines because I remember having to tell my boss I was resigning, too, and I was also completely freaked out. When I asked to meet her for coffee (no privacy in our office) she thought I was going to tell her I was quitting to go to a similar agency for higher pay (I was going back to school). She was sad to lose me, but agreed to write a letter of recommendation! Nerves mostly relieved. 🙂

  4. “You never know until you ask”…even though you didn’t have to ask. Congrats for reaping the bonus of being a dedicated and valued employee!

  5. Good life lesson. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. The boss wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t value your ability. Congrats!

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