The end of days: my last week in a cubicle

by Kim on May 14, 2012 · 69 comments

On Monday, it didn’t feel like my last week of work.  Even on Tuesday and Wednesday, as I began the process of cleaning off my desk and sorting through my files, it still didn’t feel like the end was near, though I could count its arrival in hours.  I had multiple after-work drinks and celebratory lunches and farewell coffee dates. I was wished well dozens of times. But all week long every day just felt like all the days that had come before it.

But on Friday I woke up giddy.  A dear friend of mine asked if I felt like I was about to jump out of an airplane: excited, but nervous that the parachute wouldn’t open.  No, I told her, I don’t feel like that I all.  I was just ecstatic.  There was no fear, no worry, no nerves.

Friday morning and heading off to my last day of work

I’d been dreaming of that final day at work for a long time.  I’d imagine myself removing the Summer 2012 note I’d placed on my monitor for motivation three years ago.  I imagined putting my travel Buddha, who stood on my desk as a reminder of where I was headed, in my backpack.  I imagined saying the final goodbyes to my co-workers and taking the elevator down to the lobby and bursting through the doors into the sunshine. I’d imagine, over and over again, what it would feel like to walk out of those doors for the last time.

And when the moment came it felt amazing.  But it also felt completely surreal.  There were no fireworks, no marching band, no cannons exploding in the sky.  It was just me, slipping out that door for the final time. As T.S. Eliot said, the end, when it came, was not a bang but a whimper.

Celebrating my last day of work with friends.  The end was a whimper but I am clearly beyond happy (and, yes, perhaps slightly intoxicated)

As I sat down to write this post I kept coming back to the fact that, though I’ve just willfully become unemployed, the joy I am feeling is not that my job has ended (though I am beyond happy that I don’t have to spend my days in a cubicle anymore) but that the next chapter of my life has officially begun.

I am no longer Kim Dinan, Sustainability Coordinator. I am no longer a public employee.  I am no longer required to spend my days sitting at a computer inside the gray walls of a cubicle.

I am no longer a person planning to quit my job and follow my dream.  Now, I am a person who has quit my job to follow my dream.  My last day at work gave me that.  Work ended and this brand new chapter of my life began.  Like putting on the best pair of jeans, I feel like I am stepping into what was made exactly for me.

So leaving my job wasn’t about leaving my job.  It has never been about leaving my job.  It has always been about walking towards what could be.  Kim Dinan, Writer. Traveler.  The possibility of it all.  The great wide open future.

The biggest lesson that my career taught me is that you can care about something deeply, even get paid to do it, and it still may not make you happy if it is not the thing you were born to do.  On Friday I walked away from a career as a Sustainability Coordinator in Portland, Oregon, arguably the greenest city in the United States.  I had the kind of job that people dream of having, and I cared about it passionately.  I believed in the work.  In that sense alone I was already luckier than most.  But being a Sustainability Coordinator is not my dream.  My dream is to write, to travel.  My dream is my life now.

For the past eight years I have been selling my time for money.  Now, I am taking that money and buying time.  I’m buying time and adventure and freedom and experiences that I’d never be able to have behind a desk.  I’m buying time to write and somehow turn that into my career.  I’m buying time to see the world.

For me, there’s just no looking back.

For those of you wondering, Brian has one more week of work left.  On 5/21/12 we leave Portland and drive back to Ohio for a long visit with family and to get our dogs settled into their new life with Brian’s parents. In mid-June we set out on a road trip to visit friends and then our U.S. National Parks road trip officially begins.

We have just taken a gigantic leap of faith.  May our wings grow before our eyes and yours.

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Somewhere May 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

Woooohooooooo!!!! You look SO happy, and so does Brian. I love the way you write about caring deeply about something but it not being what you were born to do, and I love that you know what you were born to do… THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Yes, THIS. Now, how to make it happen? That is the big question. I hope that I will figure it out over time…

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Amanda @amandaelsewhere May 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

“For the past eight years I have been selling my time for money. Now, I am taking that money and buying time.” I got chills when I read that! Congratulations and godspeed!

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Thank you! This time is worth every penny, I can tell already :)

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Dana - Our Wanderlust May 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Congrats!! We’re so excited for you – sorry we missed you in our trip through Portland, but looks like you’re doing plenty of celebrating and reflecting :)
Best of luck this week – we can’t wait to follow your travels everywhere!

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Oh yes, more celebrating than I should be doing, that’s for sure!! Thanks for your kind words and support :)

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Iranian Nomad May 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Congrats and best of luck :)

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thank you :)

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Hannah May 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Kim, I couldn’t be happier for you! You truly are amazing. I have been watching you grow those wings for a long time now… they’re already there, just waiting for you to take flight. Go on, turn around in the mirror and you will see – they are beautiful xxx

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thanks Hannah :) They are there, aren’t they (now to learn to use them..). :)

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Maryjean Rose May 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I am beyond excited for you guys. I am so glad I know you. You inspire me to not give up and to be who I am meant to be. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Kim.

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Maryjean, it is a true honor to be able to inspire you. YOU inspire me. You are a brave woman :)

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Rhonda May 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Amazing. I am sure you can still hardly comprehend this new life you are getting ready to live. Congratulations on stepping outside of your comfort zone to find your passion. One of my favorite quotes is:

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Unknown

Safe travels friends!
Cheers, Jim & Rhonda

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Rhonda, that is one of my favorite quotes as well :)

It’s true that I still have no real comprehension of what is about to happen…

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Amy May 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Yay.

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Yay :)

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Carmel May 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm

As much as I’m going to miss you*, I am beyond ecstatic to read about your travels. It is going to be such an adventure and you, my dear, are 100% ready and invested in it.

I can’t believe I forgot the Buddha today! Thank you so much for allowing me to take care of him while you’re away and continue dreaming!

*Hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since we met and not hard to believe, you’ve already become such a dear friend to me.

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Carmel, I hope that Buddha can keep your hopes up when you begin to wonder if you will ever make it (he’s done that for me).

Has it only been a year? I feel like I’ve known you forever! :)

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Jason May 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I really like the part, “For the past eight years I have been selling my time for money. Now, I am taking that money and buying time.”

Time is too precious to waste. Congratulations and I look forward to reading about your adventures… as I continue to sit in my cubicle :)

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Jason, but not for long! You will be cubicle-free shortly!

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Lisa May 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

A moment to treasure, your new adventure has begun!!

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Yes it has!

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Krista May 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I’m so tremendously happy for you and can FEEL your excitement and relief through the screen. :-) Wishing you many wonderful adventures with your guy. :-)

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thank you :) The excitement is almost explainable…

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jill May 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

WOw – It’s finally happening!! I can’t believe it :) I’m sooo excited for you and can’t wait to hear all about the amazing adventures you’re going to have.

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I know, FINALLY!! You guys have gone and come back and I’m still writing about leaving… :)

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Daniel & Sara May 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Congrats on taking the plunge. You have done more already than many can even imagine. Hardest part is done now the adventure begins.

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Yes, the adventure begins… as soon as we get rid of all this crap ;)

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Lindsey May 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm

You look so happy in these photos! I’m incredibly excited for you and can’t wait to read about your travels! I love “Kim Dinan, Writer. Traveler.” It has a wonderful ring to it. Here’s to future (and almost present – completely envious of you guys!) world travelers, and livers of life!

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm

It does have a ring to it, doesn’t it? ;) Yes, here’s to the future!

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Maddie May 15, 2012 at 1:05 am

Your beaming face on these photos is what it’s all about for me, so thrilled for you and Brian and can’t wait to follow your adventures!!

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

Thank you Maddie. It sure was a great day :)

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Lisa Wood May 15, 2012 at 4:51 am

WOW – I so needed to read this right this minute. Perfect inspiration timing :)

So happy that you are now FREE and working towards making your Dream become your life. LOVE it. Love how much you are smiling, and how happy giving up work has made you feel….

Looking forward to following your new journey.

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

Thank you Lisa :) Yes, now to make this new dream a reality… I wish I had a road map! I am holding out faith that the universe will provide me with what I need when I need it, as long as I work hard and keep myself open.

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Manda May 15, 2012 at 5:41 am

EEEKKKK soooo excited for you guys!!! and also very jealous… I still have 3 months to go to know where my path leads.. the antisipation is killing me!!! cant wait to see and read bout all the adventures your going to have!!!

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

Oh, I know all about waiting! My only advice is to enjoy every moment, even these moments of waiting. Anticipation is the sweet stuff.

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Patricia GW May 15, 2012 at 5:54 am

Incredibly exciting!! All of the hard work and determination to hold onto your big dream is paying off. It’s so close, and you two are so blessed. Can’t wait for you to experience the next step – setting out!

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

I can’t wait for it either!! We are definitely blessed. I count my lucky stars every day.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

I think it’s great that you have been able to embrace this next chapter of your life with your whole heart. I have been having a really hard time dealing with the end of an era, so to speak, so rather than looking forward, I’ve spent a lot of time looking back. I think this is largely because I still have a lot of major hurdles to get through before we can leave, so hopefully once we’ve made it through our last days of work, and finished packing and moving, I’ll start feeling excited rather than overwhelmed!

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

I understand how you feel. I am feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment as we try to get rid of and/or pack up all of the remaining stuff we own. I sort of want to just pile it all up and burn it. BUT, you (and we) will get everything done and then the great adventure will begin. Just take it one hurdle at a time.

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Shannon O'Donnell May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Such a huge congrats!! What a big moment, even if it did come with a whimper, the change is identifiable and you will pinpoint this moment as the beginning of the journey. Best of luck on your trip and travels :)

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Thank you! Sometimes the weight of something can only be felt in retrospect… I bet that might be the case with this. So many big things right around the corner :)

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Traveling Ted May 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Congratulations on passing through the door on the next exciting phase of your life.

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Kim May 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Thank you Ted :)

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Ayngelina May 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Congratulations, even if someone didn’t know what you looked like but was asked to look at the group photo and pick out who just quit their job to travel I am sure 100% would pick you – the joy is so apparent.

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Kim May 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

Haha, I do look pretty damn happy, don’t I?

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Cam @ Traveling Canucks May 15, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Congrats! A long time coming… enjoy the moment… :-)

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Kim May 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

Thanks Cam. We certainly will.

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Micki@theBarefoodNomad May 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

That’s awesome! I sooo know how you felt walking out the door the last time. Surreal, and scary, and exciting, and disappointing, all at once. Congrats!

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Kim May 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Yes, you absolutely nailed it. Such a strange experience.

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Jennyj May 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I am just thrilled that you’ve taken the leap. You give us all hope that one day we might follow your lead. The biggest of congratulations are in order. I wish you great happiness and fulfillment in your new life!

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Kim May 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Thank you! Thank you! I have taken the leap… waiting for my wings to grow… ;)

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Sunee May 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

Like all the others, I just want to add that I too am extremely happy and excited (and even a little jealous) for your part. Hope living your dream lives up to the dream (I’m sure it will) and enjoy every second!

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Kim May 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thank you Sunee :) I too hope that living the dream lives up to the dream.

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Moeby's Rush May 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

This is encouraging since my goal exit to travel the world is September 14th and to arrive at my first stop in Peru, September 17th. I want to do south and then work on a sailboat and head up towards the Caribbean and then Europe.
I’m right behind you in the preparing to sell/donate/loan out my accumulated objects and to take my travel guitar and my faith in Jesus and head out to adventure.
Have a great time! Maybe I’ll see you out there somewhere.

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Kim May 29, 2012 at 7:53 am

It sounds like you’ve got a good plan! I always say that overcoming the fear of actually doing it is the hardest part. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward it feels as though the universe almost falls over itself to help you get where you want to go. Good luck and, yes, perhaps we’ll see you on the road.

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Ali May 19, 2012 at 3:02 am

Congrats on a monumental day, Kim! So happy for you!!

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Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you Ali, for all of your support :)

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Tara & Mike May 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

We’re so excited for you! It’s been fun following your progress, and we wish you the best on your adventure.

Our last week at work starts tomorrow. The thrill of it all :)

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Kim May 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

Thank you!!! Hey, by the time I am responding to your comment your last week is over. Congrats!!!

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bernie June 11, 2012 at 8:17 am

hi.. yeah i really like the native american pendant!

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Jose @ Tierras Patagónicas June 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

Congratulations!

My last day at work was October 11 2011, I felt so much reflected on your post while I was reading…

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Kim June 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Congrats Jose! I love that you remember the date. Mine was 5/11/12

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James December 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

I absolutely love your energy and spirit. I was reading this post and thinking to myself – she sounds exactly like me! Have you by any chance taken the MBTI personality test? I’m guessing you’re either an ENFJ or ENFP. Let me know what the test says about you. I’m looking forward to your book, by the way!
James

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Kim January 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Thanks James. I’ve never taken the test but it would be fun to find out. Good luck out there in the world :)

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