It’s been two years since I left my first job in the business. It was a place that felt like home and my coworkers felt like family. Having this experience at such a young age was important to me; it set the standard for what I wanted in my career.
This week, my Timehop app has been filled with memories from when I was packing my first-ever apartment, saying goodbye to my athletes and eating at all my favorite places in south Florida one last time. It got me reminiscing on all the emotions that go into a job change. This summer, there has been a rise in job turnover throughout college athletics and even in professional sports, and I know others are facing the emotions that I had gone through two years ago. This morning Timehop reminded me of this video I posted when I announced I had one week left at my job.
Talk about all the feels.
When you work somewhere that gives you that “at home” feeling, it’s sometimes really hard to know when the right time to move on is. There are so many moving parts as to why you decide to move on. For me, it was the opportunity to work at a Division I school and be closer to where I grew up. But that doesn’t mean that my decision to leave was easy.
I remember the morning I told my boss I had accepted a job elsewhere. I asked him how his morning was going and he immediately turned to me and said, “Did you get a new job?” I guess I never asked him how his mornings were because he knew immediately something was up.
I spent three wonderful years at Lynn University. I learned how to be a better writer, a better scorekeeper, how to make and edit videos and I re-vamped our intern program while I was there. I worked with our inaugural men’s lacrosse team and covered various teams in NCAA Tournaments. I traveled with women’s golf during their back-to-back Division II National Championships and celebrated ring ceremonies with them.
Most importantly, I made friends that were more like family. Whether it was our Senior Woman Administrator who became a big sister to me or our campus communications guy that answered my frantic pre-game phone calls, saying farewell to each and every person was hard. When you work the long hours that we do in sports, you often see your coworkers more than you see your own family. Therefore, they become your family. You travel with them, you eat meals with them, you sometimes spend almost two straight weeks on the road being roommates with them where you stay in hotels like The Swan Inn in Lakeland, Fla., and become inspired to make MTV Cribs episodes and rap songs. I’ll save those stories for another day.
When I started to pack for my move to North Carolina, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember our men’s golf coach coming over to help me pack my kitchen. I just sat there and cried as he carefully wrapped all my wine glasses and plates. My mom, who is a saint by the way, was coming in four days and I had to have most of my apartment packed by then. I did as much as I could but every time I sat down to pack I found something that reminded me of another memory. The night before my mom came, our coach, Andrew, stopped by again to check on me. He found me in my room sitting in bed eating ice cream out of the container with a plastic fork (remember, he already packed my kitchen). My closet was still full of stuff and my boxes were empty.
I was so busy dwelling on the sad part of moving I wasn’t enjoying the exciting part. I was sad about leaving my home -- my apartment where I lived alone for the first time in my life, where I fell in love, where I fell out of love, where I would come home to in the wee hours of the morning after sharking (fishing for sharks) at the beach all night.
“It’s so tough to leave a place where so many good people have impacted your life,” Chelsey Chamberlain, who is leaving New Mexico this week for a new opportunity at LSU, said to me. “I didn’t even cry this much when I left working at my alma mater.”
‘This is supposed to be a good thing,’ I kept telling myself. And it was the same advice I gave to Chelsey when she was feeling sad about leaving Albuquerque after over three and a half years. But then I would ask if I made the right choice. There was so much unknown about my future and it was scary. Looking back, I am glad I had this experience because I have been able to coach others, like Chelsey, through it.
Things turned out okay for me. I adjusted easily to life at my new job and it served as a stepping stone for me to get to where I am today.
For everyone going through the emotions of leaving a job that felt like home, I have some advice.
It’s okay to cry.
Let’s be honest, most of us moved away from home for college and cried. Most of us cried at college graduation saying goodbye to our friends. Why should leaving a job be any different?
Remember that you chose this.
You made the decision to leave, you knew in your heart it was time and a bigger and better opportunity awaits you. Do your best to remind yourself that and try not to complain about packing and moving. Yes it sucks, but better things are ahead for you.
Purge your closet.
I thought I did a good job at this when I left Lynn. I gave away most of my clothes that I acquired during my time there. The same goes when I left UNCG. I held on to only a few things that I loved and swore I would wear them again. Guess what? I have a stack of Lynn t-shirts that I haven’t worn since the day I hopped in the car and headed north on I-95 to North Carolina two years ago.
Make sure you say your goodbyes or you will regret it.
When I left Florida, there was one person in particular that I didn’t say goodbye to. I selfishly thought it was too hard to say goodbye and put into words my feelings about leaving the place I loved and our friendship behind. We hit a weird spot in our friendship after that and it was months before we started regularly talking again. I regret not saying goodbye and being more vocal about my plans to leave ahead of time. I missed out on sharing my new adventure with this person and there’s so much still that I wish they were there for. We are still friends today although it was a while before our friendship was completely mended.
Stay in touch after you are gone.
Even though you are gone and may never see some of the people you worked with, that doesn’t mean that you never have to speak again. Keep in touch, especially in the sports industry. You never know when those connections will come in handy down the line.