So as I approach the last week in my job the thing I'm finding the hardest is dealing with other people's sadness. Having to navigate so many other people's feelings about me having my job cut when I've already got so many feelings of my own. I feel sad because I'm leaving a job I have loved (in varying degrees) for the last 5 or so years. I feel lost, scared of the free fall that is freelance that approaches so fast and so slow. There's no security in my future and I'm dealing with this at the same time as I'm managing and finally acknowledging my long standing cycles of anxiety and depression. I'm also sad for the children and parents losing the service me and my team provided. And all the other even more essential services. I feel sad at a society cutting public services whilst protecting and pandering to the rich. And I feel sad just on the personal level of saying goodbye to so many people I have worked with, the children I have seen growing up, the colleagues and parents I have come to know.
And at every centre when I tell my groups I am going everyone wants to share with me how sad they are about it. Everyone wants to tell me how much they value what I do, the effect that me and my team have had on them and their children. People tell me how angry it makes them. They ask me what I'm going to do. They have so many suggestions about what I might do. Everyone offers advice and sympathy. Next week I expect they'll also be offering presents and goodbye speeches.
When I tell them I am going freelance they assume I'm doing children's work. When I start to mumble about audio production and hosting storytelling nights they look at me like I'm suddenly strange and unfamiliar. My plan sounds ridiculous in my mouth.
I am overwhelmed by all the love and the sadness. I am overwhelmed by the scatter gun advice. I am overwhelmed by the powerlessness of all concerned. I know it's all meant well. I mostly manage to take it in good grace. I save my tears for the walk home.
The worst thing is when the kids are sad, there eyes are so big, their hearts so exposed. The worst thing is imagining the ones who look forward to seeing me every week coming in the first week I'm not there. Too young to understand why and yet so young that in the future they probably wont remember I was ever there at all. Young enough to feel the loss but too young to remember the joy we had when then look back.