I have been very fortunate during most of my professional career to have amazing “work families.” It’s just that – coworkers become more than just people you work with, they become part of your everyday life. Your stories become about them, your morning coffee is with them. Lunch in the office is with them. Birthday celebrations are celebrated with them at work or during happy hour.
You watch their kids grow up and you hear their horror stories that make you cringe about what is in store for you as a parent. You laugh at their girls’ night out or fishing trip stories. You sympathize and support them as they lose loved ones.
They are there for your big moments. My co-workers watched me meet the man I am now married to. They heard stories about first dates, first trips away….they teased about wedding bells. They threw me an engagement party. The listened to me brainstorm about wedding plans – helped me choose flowers and gave me opinions on invitation design. They wanted to see the photo album from my wedding. They were excited to see me go on my honeymoon.
Since then they’ve thrown me a baby shower. My boss visited me in the hospital to meet my son. They have welcomed him to the office with open arms, meeting us during my maternity leave for lunch so they could meet him for the first time. They are eager to see new pictures and always asking me how he is doing. I think they have prepared me for the best and worst to come of parenthood as many of them have been there, done that and have wisdom to share.
Recently, they gave me a going away party. My last day at Winthrop will be on Monday, March 17. I’ve spent almost 6 years with this crew – and since I made the decision to leave my observation skills are on hyper drive. I am noticing all the little things, the small interactions. The laughter, the friendship, and it’s so much more than just leaving co-workers now. At some point, we all became family.
We all play our roles, sometimes the arguing parents. Sometimes the sisters who can’t get along. But just like family, you can’t pick your co-workers. J We don’t always agree, but when it comes down to it, we matter to each other. I’m going to seriously miss these people.
When I first walked through the door 6 years ago, I had no idea all the life that was going to happen to me here. In many ways, I’ve grown up here. These people have watched it happen and they’ve been there every step of the way. I am so grateful to have had this working experience. Not just because of the work I did, but because of the people I got to meet along the way. I am certainly not the person I was when I first started…and I’m sure in another 6 years I’ll feel the same.
We spend so much time with the people we work with – it’s rare to have a group that actually enjoys hanging out. People who balance each other out, people who can show tough love and genuine interest in each other’s personal and professional life. It’s weird, it’s rare, but it’s good. And I know I’m lucky.
Of course I’m nervous about moving to a new work place. I wonder if my co-workers will have my sense of humor. I wonder if we’ll become Facebook friends and if they will ask me questions about my son because they really do care. I wonder what life events my new co-workers will see me through and what opportunities await on just the other side of next week. It’s marvelous and frightening all at the same time.
I know I’m moving on, and not without a few tears I imagine. It’s hard to say goodbye this time around because I know that everything will change and things will evolve into something new over time. But there will always be a little piece of my heart that stays with these people, my work family. I won’t forget.