Ending the Era

In 2007 I started at XYZ company* and on Friday I had my last day. It's a little bit surreal to leave one's first real job. Previous jobs I had to leave for some reason - I was attending school, it was the end of an internship, I was moving. This time there was no reason except that I wanted to quit and I had a new job. It was just time to move on.
I thought my leaving would be devastating to others, because apparently I'm that necessary (at least in my own head). I'm glad to report that it was not devastating, though enough upsetting to stroke my ego just a bit. I'm glad it wasn't too devastating because I know that when I decide to leave another job things with everyone will carry on.
On Friday I spent the day with clients and doing paperwork. It was the first and only time I've ever really left the office with all my paperwork done and knowing no more would show up. I like wrapping things up nicely. That's what's nice about cleaning.
A panoramic of my final office. I had four. 
 I went out to lunch with my cotherapists. It was really nice and kind of uncomfortable because it was a lot of attention on me, which is also odd because being shy isn't really me. My cotherapist Susan returned this book "Fascinating Womanhood" which she'd ended up with from me a few years ago at our annual white elephant exchange (which, interestingly, has nothing to do with white elephants). The book is a 1963 version of womanhood which is rather horrific and hilarious ("Chapter III: Accept a Man at Face Value" and "Chapter XV Feminine Dependency") but I didn't want it back. "Open it," she urged me. There she'd collected messages from many of my coworkers. Finally, something worth reading in that book. I thought it was rather sweet and meaningful.

The ending meant a lot to me too because working at XYZ we don't get most of the perks of other companies (lots of my friends work for those companies and I get a little envious). We don't get bonuses, we don't get swag, no one rents out the movie theater, we usually don't get our continuing education paid for, we even pay for our own meals when we have "parties." Mostly we get to be a teenager's emotional punching bag... and to do a lot of the previously mentioned paperwork. So I felt like the day was a thank you, and that's not something any of us in the field and at such places get/got a lot.
It also made me feel like the years of really mucky work that were much more intense and unpredictable and chaotic than anyone could know unless you are in it were worthwhile. I learned so so so much in six years. More than I think I'll probably learn in the next six, if we're being honest. When you work with people who can't live at home because their emotional state is so extreme you pick up some things. Along with learning about mental illness, the human condition, and all the crazy things that can go wrong and all the weird things that really happen in life, I learned to be less afraid in some ways (in some ways I'm more afraid because I know what gross teenage boys are thinking). I'm not afraid to stand up to people, even clients. I'm not afraid to tell people how to parent. I'm not afraid to talk about awkward things - in fact, I kind of relish it. Awkward is my comfort zone. I'm not afraid to ask for what I need from someone. I'm not afraid to have someone mad at me. I'm not afraid to try something that might blow up in my face. And now, I'm not afraid to leave it.

*This is apparently the name of a real company but in context of this post, it's just a pseudonym.