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The experience of leaving

You may not know this, yet, because it has been kept relatively quiet, but I announced my resignation from my job at the Chamber of Commerce.

A hint of sarcasm, there.

I was overwhelmed and surprised by the media coverage.

The day I told people was an emotional day.

Telling the staff at the Chamber is on the list of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. That’s how close we are. I appreciate them so much.

There were tears. Lots of tears from me.

Leading up to that day, my stress and anxiety levels were high. I wasn’t sleeping well and was absolutely overthinking things that were out of my control, which is something I tend to do.

I’ve been at the Chamber for 12-and-a-half years. I started in May 2007. In my head, I wrote this column sharing how I really feel about some people. But I could never do that. I couldn’t sleep at night if I shared anything negative about anyone, and I knew there wasn’t enough room in a column to mention all the good people I admire, respect and appreciate.

Plus, I get to continue this column (much to the dismay of a few particular people), so I should probably not upset too many people. Besides, most of you probably know what I would say to whom, anyway. I don’t think it would be much of a surprise.

Instead, I will use this final column written while I’m still at the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce to write about my experience in resigning from something that was a huge part of my life and formed the person I am today.

I’ve grown a lot in the last 13 years.

I’ve shared my struggles with an eating disorder and depression. Included in that, I often struggled to see my own value. I found it difficult to believe people when they said something positive to me. And I tended to put a whole lot more meaning to things that were negative toward me.

Announcing I was leaving has allowed me to see very clearly how far I have come with that struggle. I was nervous about having a story about me plastered on social media. I know that some people are more emboldened to say whatever they want when they are hiding behind the protection of their computer screen. I don’t mind if people disagree with me, but I was afraid people might be downright mean. That’s how my brain works against me, sometimes.

Not only did that not happen, but I have been overwhelmed by the kindness, support, and encouragement of everyone. If I didn’t believe the kind things people said to me before, I have no choice but to believe them now. There has been so much kindness sent my way. It’s been incredible.

Though mean people exist, I believe now more than ever that the way people treat us says much more about them than it does about us. I also see now more than ever before that there is more kindness in the world than we often realize. The unkind people tend to be more vocal, and we like to give them more attention. Or at least I historically have — but I’m certain I’m not the only one in this world who has done that.

One of the things that has really impacted me is the number of people who have heard the news and responded with some form of, “I wish I had the courage to do something different/take a risk/try something new/etc.”

It makes me sad. We all have the courage inside of us to take those steps and make those decisions. We all have the kindness, love, hard work, intelligence, and more good inside of us.

No one is going to let it out for us. We must do that ourselves.

Let those who care about you support you, but, ultimately, you must do the work.

And you are fully capable. Dig deep.

At the end of the day, although I do mostly love the work I get to be part of at the Chamber of Commerce, I also know I have other goals, dreams, and career desires. I leave this job with a happy heart, an incredible amount of knowledge, a whole lot of forever friends, a deeper love for this community, and much appreciation for all the opportunity this job provided me. It’s been a great journey full of experiences that have shaped who I am and that I will continue to draw on for a very long time.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs every three weeks on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.