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Hey guys, it's Jess. This is probably going to sound strange, you're free to leave without reading further, but I have some things I wanted to share with you so I hope you'll stick around until the end. The first time I left AT&T, I had logged more than 30 hours of phone calls and store visits. I paid off our devices early, took them to Verizon, and I thought that was the end of it so I put up with the dropped calls because I no longer trusted the company that couldn't communicate the basics of my plan and billing to me. I was ready to cut ties completely, but I kept my internet since I was still in a one year contract and that hadn't been nearly as problematic as our phones and the tablet I had bought for one of my daughters that year for Christmas.

Back in July I hated my life. I was seriously depressed, but convinced that I needed to stay at my job because it had a lot of the things I thought that I wanted. I had been fired from one job back in January, I lasted for four days at the job I took after that, and I sobbed all the way home after I left my badge on the stack of safes at Miller Park and walked out with a police escort and a woman I couldn't stand before she showed me the email thread I had already seen about what others thought about some of us. I wasn't in a great mood the day I walked in to ask about my bill. I didn't plan on stopping by, normally I drive to relax even when I have somewhere I need to go, that day I saw the AT&T logo, and made a split second decision to stop.

I once had a roommate who never understood how I can remember what certain people were wearing on certain days or occasions. It never really serves any purpose, it's like I have almost photographic recall at times, as if I have the power to go back in time and describe what others chose to put on that day. I remember what I was wearing, and what you were too. My first impressions are often vivid too, it's part of the way my mind works. I get a sense of organizational culture, whether it is friendly, hostile, how employees feel about working at a place, whether a manager is good or not, little things like how clean and organized a place is; I take a lot in and probably seem as if I'm a space cadet while doing so because it's a lot of sensory overload in addition to the people.

Even though I wanted to be friendly to the people, my attention was immediately captivated by the tennis match on TV. I was annoyed when I heard that the store didn't do much as far as billing questions go, and I was ready to walk out, but then someone said something to me, a conversation started, and then I learned that there was a level of billing support I hadn't anticipated or expected when I walked through the door. By the time I left I was dealing with all sorts of emotions. I had entertained the idea of a phone that could send and receive calls for a long time, but I felt loyal to Verizon and the people who had helped me break free from AT&T. 

I was furious that I had accepted such poor levels of service previously, and I really wanted a new phone, but to my surprise, when I was told I could get a free phone, nobody tried to talk me into anything better. I asked about the wearables, but nobody tried too hard to talk me into any of those either. I left with a plan, and a decision to make. I could have switched that day, but something held me back. The next day I stopped by after work, I pulled open a bag of chips, and ate them with salsa at the table because by that time of day I was starving. Once I met the manager a lot of things made more sense to me. I went from being angry and resentful about the billing issues, and signed up for better internet service.

While I was there other people trickled in and I left after he said he could call me with an update. I drove home, waited for his call, and asked about a job because one of the most important things to me about a job is who I work with, the actual work doesn't have to be anything I like or am good at, the right people make it worth my time and effort. I don't just work at a job, I try very hard to bring value to each and every interaction I have with others. I love hard. I do not like people, I love them. I do not dislike people, I despise them. My own mother told me I was difficult when I told her I was getting divorced. We get along better now than we did back then, but I am not an easy person to get along with, and I know this about myself.

At first I was excited. I was working two part time jobs, and I thought I could keep that up for a while, but it became too much. Now I think it could have worked had I temporarily abandoned some of my standards, but I've never been very good at giving myself the things I need before I reach the crisis point. After the initial honeymoon period waned I went through a huge emotional backlash that was unexpected, but not really surprising considering all the repressed feelings I had kept bottled up inside of myself for so long. It finally hit me that I had quit a job that was uniquely suited to my personality, the way my mind works, and the money I could use to take another part time retail job that probably wasn't going anywhere.

I should have gone to see my therapist long before I did, but again, I'm not always great at recognizing the runaway train while I'm riding it. You became people I loved, then I was caught up in this awful trap of feeling of not being good enough, knowing I was disappointing and irritating others, and all of sudden not being able to get along with people I had enjoyed working with previously. My close friends tell me that I am hard on myself, but a lot of the time it feels as if I'm not nearly as hard on myself as I could and should be. I couldn't do anything right, I didn't know anything, and I felt like I really needed to find a new job before something even worse happened to me, or someone else at work.

My grandmother on my father's side spent a lot of time under psychiatric care. I have spent some time there myself, and I never want to go back there again, but I remember the parting words that were said to me as I walked out the door to the life beyond a locked unit. I could always go back. It's been several years, three to be exact, but every year before Thanksgiving it crops up again, what if I end up back there? What if I lose my children? What if, what if, what if? One part of me longed to go. I couldn't sell anything and that was enough to really scare me because I had worked at a lot of companies where people didn't like or downright hated me, but I had always been able to sell.

My dad was an incredible coach. Both of my parents instilled a work ethic in me that I wonder about, I'm considered lazy in my family, and that bothers me. I didn't know what to do, I had problems at home, work was not going well, I didn't reach out to my therapist because I usually have trouble admitting that things are as bad as they are when they are that bad. That's on me and I want to apologize for what I put you through because I can't imagine what working with me and having to deal with me was like during that time period. There are plenty of great things about me as a person and fellow employee, but you didn't get much of them, and I feel bad about that.

I'm not really sure exactly what changed, but I remember waking up and thinking, this cannot go on anymore. Either they are going to get rid of me, or I am going to quit. I actually had another job lined up, but it didn't feel right, and I'm into intuition and how I feel about things in terms of rightness and wrongness. I can't make myself do things that don't feel right or good, and I can't stop from wanting to do things that seem right at a particular place, time, or with a certain person. This has gotten me into huge trouble over the years, it's also led me to some incredible experiences I wouldn't have had otherwise, and I tell myself I have to take the good along with the bad.

I could feel myself becoming more isolated and I didn't like that. I felt like you deserved more. Once upon a time a close friend who knows me well told me that he would hire me if he owned a baseball team. I jokingly asked in what capacity, I've heard this before, I have friends who run things past me and tell me things I probably shouldn't know or hear, I have an inside track, I can keep secrets, and people tend to open up and trust me for whatever reason. He said he would make me a scout, I laughed, and he did too, but then he said that it was a perfect job for me, and after he explained why, I had to agree. I've always been able to see what others do well.

I'm the type of person who can almost singlemindedly focus on what someone else does well. I don't even have to like the person to do this, but it helps. I'm passionate, and I want people to win. Creating a winning culture at work is sort of a passion of mine, and I'll overlook all sorts of bullshit to get along with others, to give them breaks they may not deserve, encouragement, praise, whatever I think someone could use, wants, needs, or would benefit an organization, I'm on board with that, it's like a homework assignment, and I need an A+ in order to pass the class. I spend very little time worrying about what could be better. I notice what is working, what someone is great at, and I hone in on that with laser-like focus because that's what matters most to me.

My mind works the other way too, but I've trained myself to see the good in others partially because that's how I would like others to view me, and the majority of others are more than ready and willing to tell people how they are failing, could be better, or need improvement. This is hard for some as they are so used to people being critical and negative that they don't know what to do with someone like me. I forget this at times. There are people who are so jaded that they think I'm playing some sort of sick game on them, but I don't jerk the rug out from others. I say what I think and feel because authenticity is important to me. I'm real and I want others to be too even if that means we are both hurt, angry, or not even talking to each other anymore.

I have a work persona, I have an ego, I have way too much pride, I'm stubborn; I could make a long list of areas where I am inadequate, insecure, or lacking, but I try to give myself the same love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and humor that I give to others. I can see how you are being hard on yourself, that hurts me since I know it doesn't have to be that way, and it rarely accomplishes what people think that it does or will. Loving people is so much better for everyone than coming down like a ton of bricks on people who have fallen short or otherwise failed to meet expectatations, you can be firm, loving, and hold others accountable, and I think this is a gift of mine at work. I understand how tough love works.

Many hide their hearts because they are afraid to be vulnerable. I understand that. I put up walls too. Someone once said something about me not wanting others to know the real me, that's true. I do not want people to know or understand me mostly because I am scared. I'm scared that they will get close, hurt me, reject me, leave me, or stick around long after both of us should have called it quits. I have no idea how many dates I have gone on since I've gotten divorced, but I remember at one point I had a streak going where I went out with at least one new guy a day, and sometimes I even went on two or three dates since I was on a mission to find love, whatever that meant to me at the time.

Essentially this was a very long drawn out way to tell you that I am super proud of you and how far you have come. Maybe you think that nobody notices how hard you are working, what you have done differently, or how you have grown as a person in some capacity. I have seen tremendous growth in each of you, and if you need specifics I can provide them. One of you learned the hard way what happens when you keep interrupting me. I'm sorry I came down so hard on you, it felt like I wasn't getting through, and it reinforced some ideas about myself I didn't like. That my opinions weren't valuable, or my ideas weren't worth hearing. I don't think you meant to come across that way, I know I shut you down when you tried to ask what was wrong. I'm sorry I did that too.

One of you has made a lot of progress as far as physical health goes. Actually I think that is true for all of us. I have seen everyone paying more attention to healthier habits; whether that is drinking less, getting to bed earlier, being smarter about the friends they hang out with, drinking more water, thinking about things before they speak, I feel like even though we have room for improvement on many levels, that will always be true and I am proud of how far we have come. I needed you, each and every one of you has been good for me in different, yet important ways. I learned how to do more things on my own, how to relax and have fun at work, and that people can have mature conversations about life issues including sex, various forms of abuse, and many other taboo topics.

I have two characters I write about. They tell each other that they will always love each other no matter what happens, and that no matter what happens, they will always love one another. This is how I feel about you. We get annoyed with each other, we have our days, there are times when we need space, distance, time, apologies, etc..., but those are more superficial considerations. Underneath it, behind it, once those petty issues are resolved, or even if they never are, I love and care about you. I'm good for a pep talk whenever you need one, by now all of you have been on the receiving end of that, and it's not just an act or me saying things because I am a nice person. I truly believe in you, and I could make a long list of your faults, I just choose to set those aside as irrelevant.

You are precious. You are special. You will accomplish more than you ever believed possible, and I'm super excited for what lies ahead for each of us. Doubtless we will not always be together, we've already started splintering as a group, but I want this core idea of collective team, where we are all for one and one for all to live on no matter where we end up, how far we roam, or what we choose to do next as far as careers or education goes. We are fortunate to have each other, many people go through their working lives without anything like this, and I want to take a moment to celebrate me, you, and us as a team. A group of individuals that probably shouldn't have the strength and bonds we do, but here we are.

I love you, and that's never going to change. I don't love you for who you will be, what you will do, or the money you will make, the degrees you will earn, or anything other than who you are right at this very moment. I will always forgive you, I will always be there for you in my own way, to the extent that I can even while realizing that no one person can be everything to you. That's why we have families, friends, and other people in our lives. I treasure the moments we have had together, and if you're rolling your eyes at some of this, I don't blame you a bit. But by now you know that I will always be me, you will always be you, and that's probably the best part of this entire thing. Nobody has to change, but we have because we wanted to, and it's been good for us to own that.

Xoxo,

J

P.S. If you read this far, I'm impressed...

j

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