Yeah, I'm an idiot (long)

Allow me to vent.

Okay, a little background first and foremost. I’m 25, still working my first job out of college, and I’ve been with the company for about two and a half years.

There are a lot of divisions in the company, but I was actually very lucky in that I was placed in what is considered to be the best one - the work is more creative, the management is top-notch, and the people are really cool. I started during the economic boom that was still going in 2000, so there was a lot of hope for my division. We had about 20 people when I started. The floor fell out on the economy and a lot of our clients started backing of their contracts and we’re only left with a few now. Luckily, attrition has kept our division from having to lay anyone off - it went from 20 to 5, with each person who has left doing so of their own free will.

But in the last year or so, it’s just been the 5 of us and, in the process of keeping the division going, we’ve become very very close. All of the lower level people (3 of the 5) are very close in age, ranging from 24 to 27, so we get along both in a business capacity and as good friends, as well. I count each of them as my best friends simply because we’ve always worked so closely, hung out together, and spent so much time together.

I was informed right before we left on friday that corporate has told my president that she needs to eliminate one of her people because the money’s not there. I’m that person. Thankfully, I’m not being laid off, just placed elsewhere in the company - same floor, just different team. For some reason, I feel crushed. I like the team I’m moving to, there are a lot of great people there, but it’s not the same. We’ve always had this “us against the world” mentality - we’re struggling together to get things to turn around and someday we’ll all celebrate together when we succeed. It sucks to know that, even if that happens, I won’t be around to see it.

If it shows you how much this affects how we feel as a team, I told one of my coworkers (who really isn’t supposed to know yet - the official announcement will be made this week - but I had to talk to someone) and she cried. I love these guys and I hate that I won’t be allowed to be part of the group anymore. And thus, I feel like an idiot. It’s just business - I’m still going to be within a hundred yards of my friends - the work I’m doing won’t be considerably different. Why do I feel so bad about this? Why does this get to me as much as it does? Should I not have allowed myself to get so attached to these people?

Damn economy.

You’re not an idiot. Any time you get close to people, and circumstances change so you can’t be in the same relationship anymore, it hurts. That’s painful, but it’s a huge part of life.

Working relationships are not just business. You’re there to do business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t form significant friendships with the people around you. You probably spend more time with them than you do with some of your friends.

I’ve worked for the same company for fourteen years. I believe I’ve worked in 6 or 7 different departments. Every time I move, even when it’s to a better, more interesting position, it’s tough to leave the old gang. We’ve had multiple periods of layoffs, and during each one it’s been hard to lose people I considered my friends. It’s even been hard when the people who left were my most annoying co-workers.

Why do you feel bad about it? Because change is hard.

Why does this get to you as much as it does? Because you genuinely cared about your co-workers, and you enjoyed the environment where you came to work each day, and no matter how close your new position is, it’s not going to be the same.

Should you not have allowed yourself to get so attached to these people? No, you were absolutely right to get attached to people with whom you spent time working on a common goal. Making connections with others is one of the things that makes life worth living. The fact that one way or another, those connections will inevitably be broken is just part of the package.

My advice to you is first, don’t beat yourself up about feeling bad. You had every right to care about your old job and coworkers, and you have every right to feel bad now that things have changed. Give yourself a break. You’re hurting, and you need to process those feelings. Do something that gives you pleasure.

Second, go into your new position with a positive attitude. Even if it isn’t tremendously different, it’s still going to feel new and strange. One rule that always helps me get through a job change: allow yourself 25 mistakes in your new job. Count them. When you do something wrong, or don’t understand how things work, just tell yourself, '“I’m new, and I’m allowed a few goofs.” I’ve never made it past about 6 or 7 mistakes before I realize that I’m no longer “new” to my job.

And finally, while it sounds as though you’ll be able to stay in contact with your old team, look at your new coworkers as opportunities to form new bonds and new friendships. In a few years, you may be posting about how bad you feel to be leaving them.