We said goodbye to four people at work in the past two weeks. It’s so bittersweet when someone leaves. Sometimes we might be frustrated or annoyed with a coworker, and we couldn’t be happier to see them off.
Other times we grow strong bonds and develop professional and personal relationships with coworkers, which makes it that much more difficult to say goodbye.
Straight outta college
When I entered the workforce fresh out of college, I felt like I had nothing in common with my coworkers.
I didn’t give myself a break after graduation, and quickly grew restless since most of my friends were still in college while I was chilling at home, surfing job boards.
Just three weeks after graduation, I started working full time. My coworkers were very nice, and very smart. But I was more than half their age, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and I certainly didn’t have any hobbies at the time, other than staring at my college degree!
But really. I remember someone asked, “So what do you do for fun?”
I was confused, and I didn’t even know how to answer such a SIMPLE question. Instead, I answered honestly with a smile, “Now that I’m out of college, I’m not really sure what to do with myself.” I was so lost.
My next job wasn’t much better. It was a company full of men and just two other women – all very nice, but at 22 years old, it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I became a little depressed since I still hadn’t seen much of my college friends. Plus, all I did was work. I didn’t hang out…I just worked and came home. Plus, the husband and wife owners ran a sketchy business, and I knew I had to get out of there.
Build a netWORK
Finally, I worked at Universal Studios to fulfill a ridiculous but rewarding goal: to work at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. #nerdingout. I had a blast, and I loved every minute of working at Universal.
I worked in Toon Lagoon as a temporary location, and then worked in Diagon Alley once they finished most of the construction. It was a lot of hard work, but the guests were fantastic, my managers and coworkers were great, and I made so many friends.
All the social skills I’d acquired in college came rushing back. I learned how to find common interests again, regardless of who I was talking to, their age, or their life story. That got me back in the groove of finding commonalities with people, hanging out and having a life OUTSIDE of work.
Working at Universal gave me the confidence to meet people again, and to expand my network. Thankfully, I carried that with me to my current job, where I’ve been for nearly 4 years now.
Cry and move on
It hurts when you have to say goodbye. A LOT. Give yourself time to express those emotions…and then, move on. Your ex-coworkers are on to bigger and better things, moving along every day. You should too.
I was pretty upset when I left Universal. I left on good terms, but I only said goodbye to a handful of people. It was too much to say goodbye to EVERYONE I met. So I gave myself alone time, thought about it, cried a little, and then moved on.
A year and a half later, I said goodbye to a close coworker. She was the first person I’d trusted and confided in since college, so it was tough saying goodbye! Again, I cried, said goodbye, and then re-focused.
Focus on your work. Focus on developing and maintaining professional relationships with other, quality people. Keep yourself busy with what you’re there for: work!
Keep in touch
If you were close with an ex-coworker, make it a point to reach out every few weeks. Or, if you were work besties, reach out every day! Find out what they’re up to.
Hang out when it’s convenient for both of your schedules. It might take a little more effort this time around since you can’t just meet up around the corner during lunch. But it will be worth it!
Don’t gossip about problems or people at your current job. Remember: your friend moved on. Either your friend is over it, OR he or she wants the dish on what’s going on now. However, it’s wise to keep that to yourself.
Gossip doesn’t add anything to the conversation, and it may get you in trouble later down the line with your current coworkers and employer.
Keep the conversation focused on the positives. Take an interest in what your friend is up to now.
We meet new people every single day. Every day, every week, every month, every year. Making friends at work – or getting acquainted enough that you can work with someone – is all part of the work cycle.
Stay focused, stay out of trouble, and stay in touch with ex-coworkers who matter. Don’t gossip, but do share good, personal news with each other. It makes saying goodbye a lot less difficult!