Three years ago, I began a relationship that developed into the love of my life, thus far. Yesterday, I ended it. This is the story of my reluctant resignation from my dream job.
I work at a women’s centre. It’s a community organization where women come for a range of programs and services to make positive changes in their lives – personal, social, financial. It’s a welcoming space where women feel safe to be vulnerable, to share their stories, and to form personal connections with staff and with each other. I have had the honour of supporting women who are struggling with abuse, poverty, mental health, social isolation, physical disabilities, systemic oppression, and more. Every day we have meaningful conversations about what it’s like to be a woman in this world, and what it’s like to be sensitive people in an insensitive society.
In April, due to financial difficulties, our Centre had to start closing on Fridays and several staff were told they would be laid off for the summer. Like most workers in social services, our pay is low enough to begin with so any further reduction is a financial blow. I was lucky to keep my job through the summer, but I did get hit with the 20% pay reduction. We were told this change would be in place for a year at which point the situation would be reevaluated, meaning if fundraising managed to bring in enough money then we might be able to expand back to a 5-day week. All eyes turned to fundraising.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll cut to the bottom line: I don’t believe we have the right person in fundraising and, for a number of reasons, I have no faith that she will be able to raise the kind of money we need. Unfortunately, this person is also best friends with the Executive Director, so it’s likely going to be some time yet before a much-needed change is made. Therefore, it’s going to be an even longer time yet before Fridays are back on the table.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that we have no health benefits. In fact, most of the staff would be considered to be financially vulnerable by our region’s standards, and most of the staff qualify for the poverty supports we provide to clients. We work there because we love the work that we do and we believe in the Centre, but while we are empowering other women, we are not being empowered ourselves.
When the Friday decision was made, I gave a lot of thought to what it would take for me to leave the Centre. Financially, I could continue to subsidize my career from savings, but that wasn’t a long term plan and I realized I had to start thinking about next steps. I decided that I don’t want to give up working with women, I don’t want to give up my 5-minute commute, and I don’t want to give up key elements of my job. This narrowed down my possibilities to literally one organization, and only one position within that organization. On June 17, that position became available and so began the whirlwind that ultimately led to my resignation.
When I walked into the Executive Director’s office yesterday, I closed the door, looked up at her with a sad face and she knew. “You’re leaving us, aren’t you?” she said. I nodded. She came over and gave me a long tight hug while I sobbed in her arms. This is a far cry from the gleeful resignations I had made in my corporate career. As my best friend said, this is “like breaking up with a high school boyfriend. You know in your heart that it wasn’t going to last, but there’s a sweetness to high school boyfriends that makes you nostalgic about saying goodbye.”
So, I guess it’s time to break out the wine, grab the ice cream and tissues, and start saying my goodbyes. Breakups suck, but they pave the way for new adventures. And maybe, hopefully, if I’m really lucky, in two weeks I’ll be embarking on what will turn out to be my next great love.