I recently made a decision to step down from a position I’ve been acting in at work for 8 months and go back to my actual position, which is a level lower than my acting position. It was a really hard decision.
On the one hand it was a great opportunity, the extra money was helpful and my pride and career ambitions loved having the status of the higher level position.
On the other hand it was a crazy stressful job that became more and more stressful as time went on. I had limited or no staff for large periods of being in that job – my actual job reports to the position I’ve been acting in but my position has been vacant for the 8 months I’ve been in this other job meaning I’ve been down a staff member that whole time.
It also coincided with my personal life being in a massive shambles – I split up with my ex, started shared custody of Grace, and was diagnosed with post-natal depression.
I was dealing with a lot of stress and it all manifested physically in the end because I had been ignoring it all and just ‘coping’, which is what I do. I ended up with the flu (twice) which left me bedridden for a week (twice), the sickest I have been in years, interspersed with 4 day long migraines brought on by stress. My body was literally yelling at me to stop.
These physical symptoms coupled with dealing with the anxiety of depression and a marriage breakdown meant that something needed to give a little. And work is the one area I could do that.
The day I decided to talk to my boss about stepping down was a huge relief. He was so supportive and I was so grateful. That day was the most productive I had been at work in months. I was able to concentrate on my work and just get it done. The burden and stress and anxiety had lifted, enough to get me out from underneath it and actually start to function closer to my capability at work.
Part of me – the stupid, prideful part of me – wishes I could have stuck it out. For the ‘status’, the money, the career progression. That part of me worries what people will think. My boss and one of my colleagues told me that doing what I did shows maturity and strength. It shows that I prioritise my health and my family. That work isn’t everything.
The larger part of me – the reasonable, adult part of me – knows that it was hard but it was the right thing. For my mental health, my physical health, the benefit of Grace, and is the thing that is going to stop me from burning out.
Sometimes the hard decisions are hard for the wrong reasons. I thought this decision was hard. But really, it was only hard for the part of me that cares what other people think. The part of me that is proud.
When I step back and look at my values, what is actually important to me, it seems like the easiest decision in the world. Prioritising Grace and my health makes this decision easy. And making this decision fits with my values, my desires and the life I want to lead. A simpler, slower, less stressful life.