Wednesday, April 25, 2007

because i no longer have to worry about getting dooced

Three long years ago, I made the very stupid mistake of becoming friends with my boss. I didn't think it was a mistake then - she's fun, goofy, and carefree - and I was thankful to her for showing me the ropes and taking a personal interest in me. Our personalities complement each other very well. She makes the jokes, and I laugh. For three years, I was her office pet and her weekend movie buddy. Now I've become so insignificant in her eyes that she's stopped making eye contact with me completely, avoided me in the hallways, and timed her bathroom visits so that there's absolutely no chance whatsoever that we might end up alone together in front of the paper towel dispenser.

I had to make a very hard choice when I started looking for new employment back in November. I had to decide if I wanted to make her aware of my actions or simply go about my business without her knowing. Ultimately, I chose to keep my search to myself (and a few select friends and secret-keeping colleagues), and I didn't tell her until last week, about an hour after I had officially accepted the job with Big-Time University. I completely blindsided her - she didn't even know I was playing the field - and for that, I feel very guilty.

Part of me honestly wishes I had done everything differently - and if I could go back in time, I can't promise that I wouldn't do everything differently - but I do have my reasons for why I did what I did.

For instance. As much as I love my boss and consider her to be one of my very best friends, she does not handle bad news very well. She tends to take everything personally, and I knew that if I told her I was leaving to pursue a new opportunity, she'd misconstrue it as I was leaving her instead of the institution. She's one of the hardest working individuals I think I'll ever meet in my lifetime, but for all her positive points, there are just as many negative. I weighed my options. I could give her a few months notice ("I haven't come across any opportunities yet, but you should know that I've put the word out there"), and she would make my life hell from that moment until the day I closed my office door for the very last time. Or... I could take the selfish route and not tell her until I had a solid endpoint in sight. Which is exactly what I did. "I've accepted a new position, and my last day here will be May 9." Point blank.

I know she felt blindsided on a professional level and probably betrayed on a personal level. And I hate knowing that I've caused such a good friend such a large amount of pain. Mostly, I hate that the choice I made was nothing more than my selfish way of avoiding six weeks of awkward cohabitation and limited confrontation. Instead, I opted to expedite the process and have three weeks of it.

Everything kind of culminated for me tonight. We were all at a work event, schmoozing it up with the big wigs, and I began to notice that my boss was never closer than fifteen feet from me. Her back was always turned to me. She didn't look at anyone who happened to be talking to me. Normally at these events, we stand in the back and make fun of the presenters or talk about people's misguided choices in personal attire. Professional we (usually) are not. Normally, we are each other's air bags, safety zones, and sarcasm-friendly sounding boards. Sitting at the registration table, faking a smile for every familiar face that walked through the door, fiercely pretending there was no where else in the world I would rather be... and I finally stopped discounting my own feelings.

Tonight was the night I stopped focusing on the positive - a dance I've been doing quite well lately - and accepted just how very hurt I am that my boss - my friend - is acting like such a child. I don't expect her to make this transition easy on me, especially considering the circumstances under which everything went down. But I also didn't expect her to go out of her way to make me feel horrible. I guess I've been relying too much on the fact that I believed us to be friends first and foremost... and I'd die before I did anything so hurtful to any of my friends.

So I went in the bathroom and cried for a little bit, of course, because I am a girl, and then I called my mom as soon as I got home - again, because I'm a girl. And a pathetic one at that.

I'm trying very hard not to let the shortsightedness of one person affect what should be - and was until tonight - one of the most exciting and exhilarating events of my life. I feel like I'm finally growing up and forging my own paths, experiencing something completely brand new in a time when I really haven't done anything or gone anywhere new in my life for the last seven years. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it keeps coming back to that one person going out of her way to not only ruin it for me, but also to remind me that she still has the power to do so. And, sadly, I'm beginning to realize that she'll always have that power. When I come back to Saint Joe for an alumni event or just to visit old friends, I'm quite positive she'll go out of her way to ignore my presence and probably try her very best to just plumb forget the fact that I ever existed in Rensselaer in the first place.

And try as I might, I know that's always going to tug on my heart just a little bit.


Lone Chatelaine said...

Sounds to me like you have surpassed your boss in professionalism. It's good to move on. She obviously has some things to work on still.

KiKi said...

I agree with lone chatelaine. You are not required to tell your BOSS that you are searching for a new job. In fact, in many cases, that would be career suicide.

The fact that your friend is taking this personally proves what you feared all along, and justifies why you didn't tell her even as a friend rather than boss. She'll get over it, or she won't. EIther way,a real friend wouldn't behave this way. She should be wishing you well for trying to do something good for yourself.

Melanie said...

When I get upset, the first thing I do is cry and call my mom. Always.

becky said...

Chate, Kiki... thank you guys so much. I was a little hesitant to write this (mostly because I try not to blog when I'm upset and haven't had time to get some perspective). But I really appreciate your advice and kind words. It was a tough decision, and reinforcements are completely welcome :)

Mel - I'd call your mom, too! She's pretty awesome.

Alicia said...

If that's all it took to break your friendship...good riddance!
I hate people who take professional decisions personally.
I have one teacher like that: When i told her that i wanted her to be more on top of things, she said: wow, i thought we were friends.

becky said...

Alicia - It's tough to deal with! I want to be professional, but it gets difficult when there's a friendship involved. At least now I know that there's no WAY I could ever carry on a serious relationship in the workplace. That's good to know early on, I suppose :)