I’ve tried to start the blog for today about something else, but my mind keeps on going back to this evening so I have decided to blog about it. As I will be starting my new job in less than a week, I had my goodbye dinner at my current employer. So, as I understand that it is not in every country in the world a thing, I will explain what it is. It is a dinner or an event or a little gift to say goodbye to a person leaving the company (does not really matter if the person is quitting their job or if they do not leave by choice but for example because of economic reasons on the company’s side).
I can imagine why you would think that is a bit strange: you quit your job and now I have to pay for a dinner for you? On the other hand, it is a very nice gesture to not only thank a person for their hard work, but also have a very positive and nice ending of the collaboration. As an assistant I have arranged many goodbye dinners and events, and I really enjoy doing it. Even though it is in some cases also sad, because you realise a colleague you might have become friends with is leaving soon, but to me it feels great to be able to organise one more occasion to have a conversation with a colleague that is not specifically about just work, and that is in a somewhat different atmosphere.
And together with the dinner I really enjoy buying people presents. You never quite know if someone really loves a present or not, but I like to buy things that have to do with the company a bit, or really with the person itself. I have bought cardboard radio’s, I LOVE HOLLAND plates from Blond Amsterdam and food hampers as goodbye presents. It is really nice to give someone something that they can remember the evening, the colleague or the company by.
So, tonight it was time for my own goodbye party, and I have been spoiled rotten. I know this is going to sound insincere, but I was already so happy to get a goodbye dinner, as my role is not specifically very senior and usually I am the one that starts organizing these events. So I appreciated it so much when my colleague came to me about this dinner, and that she would organise it for me. I could just let her know who I would like to invite, and which restaurants I really love, and she would do the rest.
Well, she did, and the evening was lovely. We had a nice Italian dinner in Amsterdam at Toscanini, and the group was just the right amount of people, and to be fair: the right people. Could there have been a few more? Sure (one person was ill unfortunately), but the ones that were here are all so important to me, that I was thrilled that they were there. I was so nervous for the evening, because -and this is going to sound weird if you know me in real life- I do not specifically love being in the spotlight. I mean, I am very talkative and I like it when people listen to me obviously, but as soon as I would have to stand up and speak up again, I would be pretty insecure about it, even if I am saying the exact same things to the same people. Weird right?
Anyway, so tonight it felt very strange to me that it was ‘my’ evening this time, and I was getting so worried about it that I got a major headache in the afternoon, that is actually still on right now. In my mind it was going: What if these people had other/better plans tonight? What if they are going to say something about me? What if I start crying? What if they think I am not grateful? What if they think me leaving means I do not like (or in some cases love) them enough? What if they think they are wasting their time? What if they are just doing this out of politeness?
All these things kept on going through my head, and I was getting a bit miserable even though I also looked forward to spending some more private time with these close colleagues that are dear to me. Thankfully when we got to the restaurant it was a great evening with lots of good food, laughter and a crazy amount of gifts including a card with all these nice words that I did not read all yet because I almost started crying when I read two of the messages on it.
As I have written before, it is really hard to quit a job. Even if you are convinced that the new job will be at a company that might fit you better, and you know what, even if you would totally dislike the company you currently work for (which thankfully is not the case here), that does not mean it is easy to leave. Especially when you have a bad day, it seems so easy to just quit and leave, but it does not go like that. You will have to go through a process of telling people, hearing people tell you all these nice things, making sure you leave stuff behind in a good manner and eventually tell your colleagues goodbye. And no matter how horrible a company is: you will probably always find people around you that you not only enjoy working with, but also love spending time with.
I have found those people at this current company, and it is scary to leave them. Not just because you cannot ever be sure if you will ever see each other again, but also because they have helped you so much throughout your career at that company and it is really hard to find the right words to show how much you appreciate them. And now that I am writing this, I realise that the reason I have such a headache, is not because I have issues standing in the spotlight; it is because I am afraid of that time right after it, where I need to show my colleagues how amazing they are, and how super duper much I appreciate all their efforts. I am so scared I will not say the right things, or I will not show my sincere gratitude in a sincere way somehow. It is driving me nuts, and it still is. I have not always enjoyed working for this company, of course, but I have never not enjoyed working with the people that showed up at my goodbye dinner tonight. I just hope I can express that in the few days I still have left!