Why Leaving Your First Job feels like a Bad Breakup?

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Your very first job can be pivotal in so many ways. Even if it’s not a job you’re passionate about or even thoroughly enjoy doing, it’s still the first stage in your career path, when you’re (hopefully) getting into a routine of productivity, building skills, and working with others in a cooperative and positive way.

Your first job can also be a memorable part in your life, and this is why having to say goodbye to that stage in your life can feel like a bad breakup – even if it’s for the best.

Connections at work

Leaving your first job can be difficult when you’ve formed connections with the people you spent 40 hours a week with and saw day-in-day-out. This is true whether it’s your manager who you view as a mentor or your co-workers who you can always rely on for office banter and good times.

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking, especially because you’re meeting so many new people and trying to get on good terms with everyone, while also figuring out who you get along with.

You may meet people who are especially easy to be around, allowing you to be totally yourself. Leaving these people behind can feel like a bad breakup because it’s not always easy to form those types of connections with people, and severing those ties is difficult, even if it’s the right thing to do.

For many people, their first job is so much more than the tasks they had to do every day, and the pay cheque they received at the end of every month. Your co-workers can become a part of your social life, and they may be what you miss the most about your first job.

Saying goodbye to familiarity

Even when we break up with someone for a good reason, it can still be an unsettling experience because you’re saying goodbye to a familiar part of your life.

Similarly, when you enter the world of work, you get accustomed not only to certain people and a social circle but also to a schedule and an environment.

Every day, you can pretty much know what to expect – how you get to work, the places you pass on the way, what you have to do during the workday, and so on.

You go to the same office every day, sit at the same desk, go to specific places for lunch. On the one hand, this kind of routine may sound quite mundane and uninteresting. On the other hand, familiarity is also comforting and it’s what many of us appreciate about our jobs.

We may change jobs many times over a lifetime, which entails getting used to giving up a familiar way of life for a new one. The same applies to relationships too. Leaving that first relationship (or job) can be uniquely challenging because it’s the start of this process of making big changes in your life in order to improve it.

This can lead to constantly comparing a new job to a previous job – from the people, the commute to the coffee blends in the cupboard. This is similar to starting a new relationship whereby you might compare traits and attributes in your partner to your ex.

A lot can happen in your first job

Your first job can be a very memorable period in your life for all sorts of reasons, beyond the people and the familiarity. In your first job, you face all kinds of new challenges and start to achieve things you’ve never achieved before.

These experiences are character building, just as a relationship is. Breaking up with a partner when it’s right is still tough because that person may have played an important role in your self-development.

You may decide to leave your first job for a plethora of reasons – a career/industry switch, the offer of a better job at a different company, the feeling that your job doesn’t align with your talent, values, and goals, or being fed up with some toxic aspect of your job (e.g. awful co-workers, a micromanaging and tyrannical boss, overwork, chronic stress, mind-numbing or soul-destroying work, etc.).

Whatever the reason is for leaving your first job, the memories you’ve formed during that time can hold a lot of meaning for you. But when a job (or a relationship) is no longer serving your well-being, priorities, and goals, then this calls for a bittersweet goodbye.

How to move on from an old job

Close friendships are what can make us feel sad to leave a job. Keeping in contact with old colleagues keeps the connection going, and its likely your friendship will become stronger once you start socializing outside of a working environment.

It’s equally as important to spend time getting to know your new colleagues – attend after work socials, sit with them at lunch, ask them to show you around the office or to explain their role. This will help cement new connections and enhance your happiness and comfort in your new role.

Whether it’s a job or relationship, we tend to distort experiences in our head. In the case of a past job, we forget why we left our previous job and suddenly, the grass seems greener on the other side. It’s important not to forget the negatives in our past job – perhaps there was a lack of variety, no room to progress, a nasty manager or the commute was long and tiring.

It’s important to remain positive in a new role, even if you feel stressed out and overwhelmed at the start. As you gradually get used to your role, this will fade, just stay patient and give it time.

Set achievable goals day-to-day, takes notes and immerse yourself fully into your new role and work culture. In no time, you will get used to your new job and any negativity and worries will fade away and you will know you made the right decision. 

Written By
Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs at Inspiring Interns.

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