One of my BFF's and I decided to take a mini road trip to our previous place of employment, which is about 45km from Small Town, SA. The intention of our visit was to catch up on all our friends and workmates we hadn't seen in almost 2 years. Turns out, this journey would serve a far greater purpose for me.
The first thing to jog my memory about working in a far out place was the early mornings. I had long forgotten what it was like waking up before the sun does, at minus 8 degrees in the middle of a frosty winter, barely making it on time to catch the shuttle bus. I grimly recalled the endless road works, which added an extra 30 minutes to the drive. I also recalled the 7:30 coffee with colleagues every morning, which always made up for agony of getting there. I had remembered a place where I loved my job, where I had found something I actually enjoyed doing, while getting paid to do it. Had I been foolish to leave all this behind?
Driving through the entrance of my old workplace felt so unfamiliar, it was a place I used to know so well and now I was a complete stranger to it. A sea of faces I didn't recognize greeted me. New offices had sprung up where there used to be open spaces. Progress had been made on things I had starting working on before I left. There were, however, minor touches of the past; the odd poster I had designed on a wall, a picture frame on a friends desk and an emblem I had stuck on my old office door. It was nice to see that a little piece of me was still there.
Our surprise visit was long overdue, as our old co-workers were just as excited to see us. Warms hugs and shouts of glee filled the quiet office corridors. Everyone tried to look busy and content, but the cracks beneath the surface were evident. The hallways were soaked in stress and the pressure of meeting deadlines had taken it's toll on them, showing through strained smiles. The first thing they all asked was "What's it like out there?" They were eager to find out what opportunities lay on the other side of fence, wishing that they too could leave the iron gates of this establishment. The first thing I asked was, "What's it like back here?". I was eager to find out what I had left behind. The replies were all the same, "Busy, as usual", with an added, "You should come back." I wanted to respond by saying, "You'd like me to return, yet you're so desperate to leave." But I knew better not to.
Before this visit, I had been thinking of all the fond memories I had at work, wondering why I had left. On seeing the low morale & languid labouring, it made me (kinda) appreciate my current jobless state. The workmates left behind yearned for the greener pastures they think we enjoy. Why is it that we always seem to want what other people have? It maybe true that the grass is greener on the other side, but we forget that wherever there's grass, weeds are sure to grow. No matter which garden route you chose, there will be stress and difficulty. Often we focus so blindly on other people's lives that we lose sight of what's right in front of us. So, instead of longingly peering over into someone else garden, nurture the one you're in.