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  • Again? My parents ask with trepidation upon learning that I have switched jobs again, 3rd time in 2 years.

    Anyone can attest that sometimes its time to change. For many of us changing jobs is something that happens rarely. You work, you advance, you get comfortable. But for some of us, especially those who work in advertising and pretty much any media or creative field, we tend to switch a lot. We chase change.

    Of all the reasons I have changed jobs, money has NEVER ever been a reason. I get bored, the job gets stale, I see no future, the culture sucks, I don't fit in and etc. I have left a job I didn't like with people I liked because I was bored and knew that it wasn't my future. It was my first gig out of college and I was just so happy to have a job at an agency that I didn't care at the time that it wasn't what I wanted. When I left it all felt so rushed that I never got a chance to finish that famous going away email that we all get to send out on our last day because IT shut of my email at 6 PM on the dot, early for an agency. I was still packing my things and laying out the little thank you gifts I got for everyone earlier that day that I got distracted. I would not make that mistake again.

    I did end up making a giant mistake with my next gig and falling for a bait and switch recruiting company and taking an even more boring and technical role at a smaller company. On my first day there was a going away email in my inbox (they're usually sent to the whole company) from a girl whose seat I was taking over. She lasted only 8 months. I've never heard of anyone leaving so soon. I lasted 4 months. I was so miserable, anxious and confused that I developed a minor caffeine addiction. It was also the only time I cried at work ever. I was also constantly sick and I had the worst nasal infections during my stint there. I haven't gotten that sick that often since. Still, I felt so guilty leaving a company I didn't like and people I didn't care for that I ended up buying my team gifts of fancy bottles of vodka. I didn't get a single thank you from them and I heard that they tried to pin problems on me to the client after I left. However, they were a smart and hard working crew and I wrote a nice going away email thanking and praising them all.

    My next gig would be my favorite yet and I was there almost 3 years. It was pure redemption. I liked the company and loved the people and met some of my closest friends there to this day. It was a job much more difficult than the one I could not do at the 4 month gig and I was amazed how much I learned and was able to handle. I ended up making it to a senior role and even training others. However, it was still not the gig I was meant for and I ended up resigning after leaving them not for another company, but to go to grad school. Advertising is a small world and some people I worked with at my first job worked there as would people I met at my last. I keep this in mind even when miserable as we all leave for much the same reasons and its best to not burn too many bridges.

    My first gig after grad school was a pay-cut from the last, but even though I was broke, I didn't care. The funds would grow eventually as I would in my new role and job satisfaction was priceless to me. I learned more here under amazing management and various clients than I have at any other role. It was with great satisfaction to realize that I was now part of the creative department and I didn't have to stare at the fun from a distance as I did at my other gigs. I met amazing people here, including Robert, the subject of the previous story. However, this place lacked an amazing culture and had insanely high turn over. They also ended up merging with another company and as I said at my exit interview, it was less a merger and more a hostile takeover. Besides, it was time to move on to more adventurous clients and a better culture. For my exit email I wrote a hilarious poem about UX design and our clients' need to adapt it more. But it was also a sincere thank you. This time, I didn't feel the need to apologize or buy gifts as I had no guilt about leaving them. After over 1.5 years, it was time to move on.

    The next gig had the culture it promised but lacked the amazing work. I felt like I regressed as a designer and to this day I am not sure if its because it was the wrong fit or the people were so much better than me. These people were brilliant, talented, creative, hard-working and helpful. However, there was still no magic of the perfect fit of love of work and love of company. I battled with the idea of staying after things got temporarily better during my first pitch, but this dream was quickly dismantled. Besides, I had another dream I wanted to chase ever since I wrote my graduate thesis on applying UX thinking to healthcare, primarily mental illnesses. So I did just that and moved on to healthcare. I did write another hilarious goodbye email and even sent separate ones to my amazing team. This move hurt a lot. I terribly missed the people, office and the culture. It hurt even more that due to timing I didn't take time off between gigs and started the new one after the weekend.

    It never gets easier to quit. Not for me. You would think after so many changes, but it does not. I get attached and I meet people I love, and deeply miss them when they're not around anymore. I also make genuine friends and learn. Like any break up, over time you get used to the change. There is however, a time during the first 2 weeks where I am a bit disoriented and I keep thinking I am somewhere else. At my new job as a freelancer, I almost took the wrong train to go to the old office. I almost give the wrong name when out at a gathering when asked where I work. I keep thinking that the woman with the long hair and blue blazer is my old manager. The guy with the bald head and awesome tattoos is my old art director. The girl with the cool outfit and hat is a fellow designer. I constantly do double takes. I get lost in a new office. I compare everything from the coffee to the kitchen to the bathrooms. Sometimes you don't know what you have til its gone and you second guess and you wonder if you made a mistake leaving. Its true, the grass isn't always greener but its different grass and different is good.

    I think about this sometimes and all the places I have left and all the offices I have worked in and of course, all the people. I don't regret it though, I don't regret leaving. I thrive on change and I never left for money or a better office. It was always bigger than that. I am chasing something bigger and I might not ever catch it. To those on the outside, this seems insane and unstable. Its easier said than done and its not easy. I have kept every single business card I have ever had as physical memories of my time there. I have them dating back to 2006 and it may take me a year to remove the previous gig's card from my wallet. I cherish them all.

    When I start thinking WHAT IF and second guessing my decision to move on as I have from my very first gig I think to a saying I spotted "Mondays don't suck, its your job." I spotted it 2 years ago while walking with a friend along the East River promenade and I was starting to become deeply unhappy at the job I had after grad school. Two weeks later I resigned with a clean conscience. I'll be damned if I didn't carry that little business card around with the first title that put me in the creative department for a whole year after. That thing is precious to me. They all are.

    Cheers to chasing your dreams. Cheers to Monday.

    Week 32 of 52 - Stories in 2014 and 2015
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