Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

5 Feelings You’ll Have When You Quit a Job You Still Care About

person walking
Jakob Helbig/Getty Images

This is a particularly difficult thing to for me to write. Why? Because after two-and-a-half-years of writing articles for The Muse, this will be my last (for now).

With a full-time job and a very cool wife I should probably spend more time with, it’s the right choice for me right now. But it wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. My voice quivered when I gave my notice.

Since then, I’ve felt a few emotions that I definitely did not feel when I quit other jobs in the past. And as I still continue to process them, I figured that one of the best ways to do that was to write them all down for you to read.

1. You’ll Worry That You’ve Made a Mistake

I won’t mince words: This has been a great gig and I’ve been lucky to have it. As excited as I am to start (or pick back up) a few projects, I’m worried that I’m making a horrible mistake.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get paid again to do something that makes your friends (and their friends, and their friends) say, “I read that thing you wrote and it really helped me.”

For you, maybe this “ever again?” feeling stems from a career change that you’re ambivalent about, or a boss that you know had your best interests in mind. But no matter why you still care about your job, it’s normal to wonder if you’re making the right decision.

2. You’ll Wonder if They’ll Even Notice You’re Gone

You might’ve already assumed this, but the folks who write for The Muse are smart, thoughtful, and a lot of fun to be around. On a professional level, they’re great teammates and I’m going to miss them.

But now, I’m worried that maybe I’ve been a jerk, or possibly worse, forgettable.

“Maybe they won’t miss brainstorming with me over Slack,” you’ll wonder, “and maybe this is addition by subtraction.”

You’ll be mostly confident that you’re totally wrong, but you’ll have a hard time stopping yourself from thinking about it.

3. You’ll Slowly Start to Get Excited About What’s Next

If you’re quitting a job that you care about, chances are that you have a new gig lined up. Or you’re taking some time to re-evaluate your life. Whatever reasons have brought you to this decision, there’s no denying that the future is potentially very exciting.

For me, I’m looking forward to revisiting the book I started writing in grad school. It has gone mostly ignored and untouched for at least five years. I was 23-years-old when I first took pen to paper and, well, let’s just say I’ve aged a bit since then. I’d like to think I’m a bit wiser, too. And I’m excited to see what that means for my creative writing.

This won’t be an emotion that you’ll feel instantly. You’ll have a lot of other things to process first, and a lot of them will be related to the nostalgia you still have about the job you’re leaving. But you probably had your reasons for stepping aside, and at some point, you’ll get energized by them.

4. You’ll Consider Taking Your Resignation Back

Wait a second. You have a great job that you’re leaving? Why would you do this? See if they’ll take you back!

Again, if you care about your position, you’ll want to tear up your resignation letter. As of the writing of this article, I’ve thought about doing so at least a dozen times. “OK, so I know I told you I was leaving,” you’ll want to say. “But I’ve thought it over and I really hope that we can pretend that it never happened.”

But then, you’ll remember all of the things that you have waiting for you after you quit. And if they’re still good reasons, you’ll resist the urge to beg for your job.

5. You’ll Be Thankful for the Time You Spent

On yet another personal level, The Muse was my first taste of a consistent and exciting freelance writing opportunity. Before then, I had toiled away with clients who didn’t pay me on time or gave me assignments based on handshake agreements.

But even if your circumstances are different than mine, you’ll inevitably want to thank everyone you worked with when you leave. And when you still care about your job, that’s only natural.

You probably learned a few things, made some friends, and gotten some incredible opportunities along the way. Of course you’re going to feel thankful when you step away from something that still means something to you.

When you give a you-know-what about your job, it’s hard to quit without feeling any strong emotions. And as you process those emotions, don’t let anyone tell you to rush the process. You cared about this job, and you should take the time you need to grieve. Yes, grieve. Because even when you’re leaving on your own accord, quitting a job you still care about is never easy.

Want to stay in touch? I’ll still be on Twitter.