I’ve seen many people I used to work with in the past few weeks. Inevitably, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you miss it?”
Not really. Nope. No.
Oh. Am I not supposed to answer that quickly? And with such a big smile on my face? Sorry.
(But not really.)
I do not miss working and I have no regrets about leaving my law firm. But I admit to missing a few things:
1. Being involved with more people. Many days, I only talk to one other person. In my past life, a slow day was talking to five people. A normal day was 10-15.
It is the biggest source of feeling disconnected. The range of things I know about people is narrower. I’ve missed the casual discussions about what vacations people are planning or what books they’ve read. I’ve also missed the not-so-casual conversations about people moving or unexpectedly being pregnant with a third child.
2. Problem solving. My job was fundamentally about solving problems. Some were little, “Who can take this new pro bono case?” Some were big, “What new project should this office adopt?” Some were political, “How can we navigate this potential conflict of interest?” Some were personal, “When can I find five minutes to grab lunch?”
Now, the majority of my problems are personal. Recurring ones include, “What time do I feel like eating lunch?” and “Do I really need to shower today?”
3. Being helpful. At my office, I had the answers. From entirely random to very useful things, word on the street was to ask me. While I grumbled about people needing to learn how to find information and use the systems on their own instead of always calling me, I am resourceful and liked the appreciation I (usually) got in return. My life now just does not offer nearly as many opportunities to be helpful to others.
4. Office accoutrements. Some days, the things I most long for are my ergonomic desk, two large computer monitors, and the office’s industrial-strength machines.
Printing at home and shredding a (very) few pages at a time make me impatient. And don’t even ask about my one-page-at-a-time scanner.
I’ve jerry-rigged a computer set up on my dining room table, using my lap desk from college as a keyboard tray and a stack of cookbooks on a folding chair for my mouse. It works well enough for now, but it makes me appreciate what I had for the past 12 years.
I’ve enjoyed the past few months. It’s not that every minute is pure bliss, but I like it for what it is—slower and less stressful. I’m still a morning person, but “morning” now means waking up in the 7s or even 8s, as opposed to 5s and 6s of my working days. And, this is after 7-8+ hours of sleep, instead of 5-6. It is definitely an improvement to life without yawning multiple times per hour.