The company I work for is small, family-owned.
One colleague refers to our employer as “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Another, a “way station.” People come here on their way to something else, one said. They are never meant to stay here.
I think of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go and ‘The Waiting Place.’
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing
In many ways, I believe that I’ve sat in The Waiting Place for the past three years. Waiting for something. There were days I spent waiting for a sense of accomplishment, a sense of competence. I spent weeks waiting for compliments, and accolades. I waited for the shoe to drop.
I waited for validation.
I waited for affirmation.
I waited for visitors, flowers, and gifts.
I waited for lunch, phone calls, and texts.
I waited for the spotlight, for a big break.
I waited for a way to correct my mistakes.
I saw some people move on, though never to opportunities that seemed particularly significant. One moved closer to family, into a job she hated, and has since returned. Another left to caretake for his girlfriend’s grandfather, and has moved on beyond that. Another resigned in protest to a tip sharing program the company was starting, though even she frequently gravitates back to visit and catch-up.
And then, there is me.
I am leaving for a full-time job, a pay increase, benefits, and a position that will stretch me.
As for The Waiting Place, I am escaping.
I feel as if I’m not just stepping up, but that I’m stepping out. Of a time in my life where chaos reigned. Where uncertainty was the only certainty to which I could cling. I am moving on.
I am terrified. Nervous. Afraid. And yet, I see this as an opportunity to enter the arena. To set the stage for the next five years. To align my life with the vision I have for myself. To wield a sense of agency. To carve a future of my own design. To find myself in those bright places, as Dr. Seuss pens, because I created them.
Is there anything more terrifying and exhilarating than realizing that the pen that authors your life rests in your hands–and has all along? I feel the weight of that power, privilege, and responsibility.
But tonight, there is a celebration. My colleagues will gather to honor me, to celebrate my departure and the new opportunities ahead.
And I know I’ll look around and think of some: Join me. There is more.
But until they are ready, they will stay in The Waiting Place, and I cannot fault them for seeking the comfort of the familiar. I cannot fault them for saying, “Not yet.” I cannot fault them for waiting.
But as for me…the Boom Bands are playing.