is it normal to get incredibly nervous about telling your boss you’re quitting?

Some people look forward to quitting their jobs. They daydream about it, planning out elaborate quitting fantasies, like spelling out “I QUIT” in printer cartridges before flouncing out the door or emailing a lengthy list of heretofore privately nursed grievances staff-wide on their final day of work. But a more common theme in the letters I get is actually the opposite: conscientious people who like what they do—or who at least like their coworkers—and feel incredibly nervous about resigning: How should I say it? When should I do it? What if my boss is upset? And won’t everything go to hell for my colleagues after I’m gone?

I wrote a column for Slate about why so many people fear that quitting a job will be a personal betrayal of their boss or their coworkers — and how this angst can do real damage. You can read it here.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. anonykins*

    YES it is super normal. I gave myself a stress-induced ulcer in my throat from freaking out about quitting my last job. It turned out to not be that big a deal, but boy did I think it was going to be….

  2. Anon nonprofit worker*

    I quit a preschool that was oddly the most stressful job I’ve ever had, and it was because I was going to grad school, and I remember the other staff made cryptic comments about how our boss would be really mad about it. One literally said (in a joking way) “you better sleep with one eye open”. And I was super stressed. I had to turn in my notice when she was out of town, and then I was sort of on edge until I left.

    1. Luna*

      I hate it when people make those types of comments. They think it’s funny but it never is!

    2. Trillion*

      Pre-school is a SUPER stressful job. Nothing odd about that.

      My sister worked at a pre-school for 8 months. There are exactly two days where she came home in any sort of pleasant mood. I remember asking both time if she’d been fired or something.

      It’s a huge amount of responsibility to monitor, educate, feed, clean, and grow 15-30 little tiny children. Kids are like little drunk people with a suicide mission. I know I could never ever ever do it.

      1. shep*

        Omg yes. I worked at a preschool/after-school care a few months before college and it was probably the worst job I’ve ever had. My mom promised me for a few hours every day (my baby brother went there during the school year and my mom was insistent I get a job, even if it was just two hours on the weekdays), but it turned into an entire class of kindergartners for SEVERAL hours a day when the teacher I was assisting suddenly quit.

        I wasn’t trained in CPR, I didn’t have any experience in childcare, and I really, really, REALLY don’t like children. If I had my own, they’d probably be okay, but I definitely don’t want to deal with other people’s kids.

        And if I DID have my own kids, I certainly wouldn’t want someone like pre-college shep taking care of them during the day! I mean, I was a classic overachiever, responsible to a fault, excellent work ethic, but I was so unsuited for childcare that it’s hilarious and sad.

      2. Anon nonprofit worker*

        The kids were actually the best part of the job for me, there were a few who were difficult and a couple of tantrum-filled days left me a bit exhausted but it was really the work environment. We never had a floater teacher so we only ever had the legal minimum ratio of staff-to-student so it was difficult to go to the bathroom etc.

        And the owner was a very intimidating woman who would sit upstairs and watch the surveillance videos all day so all the other teachers were constantly on edge and we were “encouraged” to not be friends with each other so it was a lonely place to work. Staff would only speak to each other when absolutely necessary and only about work-related things. And the owner would randomly pick workers to dislike and then she would be extremely mean to one person while everyone else pretended it wasn’t happening. I knew I had to get out of there but I was really concerned about how the owner was going to react because I had seen her be so nasty to other people.

        1. JeanB in NC*

          Oh my god that’s ridiculous! I watched a (British) show on fixing shops, and this one hair salon, the owner did the same thing – watched the surveillance cameras all day! And could not for the life of her figure out why her staff didn’t feel trusted by her.

          1. DecorativeCacti*

            One of my friends in high school worked at a local clothing store. The owner/manager would sit at home watching the surveillance cameras and then call them if the employees were doing something she didn’t like. It was usually something along the lines of, “This customer has been holding a pair of jeans for more than 30 seconds. Why don’t they have a dressing room?”

          2. Alli525*

            I know exactly which show you’re talking about, and it’s SO GOOD. And baffling, as most of those shop owners acted like they’d never even THOUGHT about taking a management class before, y’know, starting a business.

  3. Lil Fidget*

    I feel a little weird, but also happy, that Alison has started cross-posting on all the sites I visit most :P Is she following me???? I use InPrivate browsing!! (j/ks)

    1. Specialk9*

      Ha! I was also shocked by how positive the Slate commentariat was on this article. They’re never that agreeable.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I know, they’re all such curmudgeons usually! (I always read the comments). It’s funny how different communities have a different tone. Between here, Captain Awkward, and Slate, it’s like different worlds. And then NY Mag hardly has any … whomp.

        1. Alli525*

          NYMag’s comments section has been such a sh*tshow for so long that the lack of community doesn’t surprise me. I’m soooooooooo glad Gothamist is back.

  4. Indigo*

    I burst into tears when I quit my first professional job. I had been there for several years and my boss had told me that he hoped I would take over when he retired. I felt like I was completely betraying him.

    We continue to work closely, because we are in the same industry. I think I took it far harder than he did!

  5. I'll say it*

    So timely as I just recently gave notice and was super nervous about it even though it’s a super toxic place and I have dreamed about quitting for months. I am one of those stories where it came to pass that the manager was extremely upset on a personal level and I’m now navigating how to deal with her (polite detachment) until my MONTH’s notice is up.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yes, to be honest at my first job (it was a weird situation) my boss CRIED when I quit. In public – we were at lunch. He was in his fifties. People started. But I still recognize that that’s an extreme outlier and also didn’t mean I was wrong to quit or to leave.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Oh my gosh, I would be so horribly uncomfortable…… at least you know you were a valued employee there?? Haha… goodness!

      2. Life is Good*

        At my last job, my boss cried when I gave her my resignation. I felt bad, but am so glad to be out of that toxic waste dump.

      3. Tricksy Hobbit*

        Truth be told, I have two employees who would reduce me to tears if they left, but I would not judge them for leaving.

      4. Blue*

        I very recently resigned from my position, and my boss definitely got a little teary when I told him (we weren’t in public, fortunately). I knew he valued my work, but I was really not expecting that reaction.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      So true! Every time I’ve quit, I felt like my heart was going to burst from my chest—even when I wanted to quit, and I knew it would be a huge relief to move on.

      I’m so sorry you’re having to manage your manager’s feelings during your super long notice period, though :(

    3. Doggo*

      I had one of those. I was pretty burned out at work, and worked long/late hours trying to keep my manager’s department afloat. I found something that was a step up and put in my notice.

      For previous people who quit, there was always cake; my manager even came in on a Saturday to have a goodbye party for our last departure.

      I got…nothing. No card, not even a good luck. I was literally ignored on my last day, and then the manager left early. I was heartbroken; I put in so much work and effort and then when it was time for me to move on she basically gave me the finger.

    4. Toxic waste*

      I was nervous about giving my notice at previous toxic job. When I did, my supervisor actually complained about how he wished he could quit the place! (!!!!!) He did make some not so nice remarks about me- called me weird and other stuff, but I wasn’t leaving and he wasn’t, so HA! He eventually left the place 9 months later, but at least I got to leave before him! (Otherwise I would take over his duties until they filled the position and that would have been awful.)

    5. Emily K*

      My first job I lucked into not having to submit my resignation notice, because the day before I was to be attending my second interview with the company whose offer I ultimately accepted, I received notice that my position was being eliminated. I’d been job-hunting for about a month at that point, because the internal documents and discussions I was privy to in my role had already made it clear to me that layoffs were coming and that my position was vulnerable. I gleefully accepted the severance package and enjoyed getting double paychecks for a short while after starting my new job.

      My boss at my second job worked remotely from her family’s summer home a few thousand miles away every summer, all summer long. I got my job offer smack in the middle of July. I probably should have called her and at least still spoken to her verbally in a two-way fashion, but I chickened out and convinced myself that since I couldn’t give my resignation in person, emailing was acceptable.

      Now it’s looking like I might have to give notice at my current job soon, and I’m definitely feeling nervous! I still have never told a manager (other than when I worked part-time jobs in school) that I’m quitting to their face. And I’ve been here a loooong time because I’ve really liked this job.

      1. Trillion*

        Layoff with severance at the same time you’re accepting another job…. the REAL American dream.

    6. Artemesia*

      Just know that if it suits the boss and the organization they would fire you without notice without a thought. Even a good organization and decent boss will still fire you when it is what the organization needs to do. Never sacrifice your own interests for an employer or think there is a loyalty that you must display. Of course, be professional, but unless an employer has done something incredibly generous (e.g. kept you on the payroll during an extended illness), all you owe is two weeks notice. And even where an employer has bent over backwards as in the example, you just owe as generous a transition as you can manage.

  6. Just resigned*

    I just resigned a teaching job to go back to graduate school, and it was *so hard*. In the weeks leading up to my resignation, I lost my appetite and stopped sleeping well. I was worried about my boss’s reaction (would she be angry? Was I giving her enough notice?) and saddened by leaving behind what has been in many ways a good position, with work I like.

    It was fine. My boss was far more supportive than I thought and they’ve already found my replacement (which feels weird, but is ultimately a good thing, since it makes it easier to leave everything stable, not a mess.

  7. anon for this*

    Thank you, I really needed to read this. I’ve been job searching for over a year (started kind of half-heartedly but more recently I’ve at least had a couple of initial interviews) and I’m agonizing over whether I’m doing the right thing to the point that it’s become too much of a focus in my daily life. Yes, I would be leaving at a bad time, and yes, my organization and my coworkers, as well as the people I serve, would suffer (because it would probably take a year or more for my position to be rehired), but I need to leave, and reading what you wrote gave me the strength to do it if I get the opportunity.

    1. Specialk9*

      You need to take care of you. The org is incapable of loyalty because it’s a thing. Don’t get suckered into loyalty to things, or to people who don’t give loyalty in equal measures.

  8. Butch Cassidy*

    I needed this. I’m starting my job search this week and I’m worried about eventually giving notice when my team is already stretched super thin.

    1. Penny*

      Same. My manager is leaving and if/when I leave, it will leave everyone in a really bad spot.

      1. Artemesia*

        And if they found themselves a bit overstaffed they would let you go in a heartbeat. Never sacrifice yourself for an employer’s lack of planning and staffing. They won’t return the favor.

    2. Cranky Dude*

      Not your fault that the team is stretched thin, right? If your company staffed up properly for the workload, you’d be happier and thus less likely to be looking elsewhere. So they are bringing this on themselves.

      1. Butch Cassidy*

        It’s not too different from when I left my coffee shop job in college. We were understaffed, stretched thin, but I couldn’t handle the hours and I wanted to focus on my last semester so I just sucked it up and accepted that I would be making things even harder for the team.

        I’m not happy with my job or with the company, and it’s time for me to go.

    3. MsMaryMary*

      In my experience it often takes someone quitting for a team to get more resources. Several times, after I left a position they ended up replacing me with two people. So, silver lining: maybe after you quit your team will get more poeple!

  9. AnonymousCookie*

    This morning, I had to tell my boss that I made it to the final round of an interview and now I feel a little awkward, although my boss was okay with it.

      1. AnonymousCookie*

        No, but I work in an academic field that’s pretty small and he would have found out anyway. I never really had any issues with leaving a job since people move on to other roles all the time in my field.

  10. k*

    I got really hung up on trying to find the “right time” to leave an old job. It was a very small office, my boss and two employees. When my coworker left it took a long time to find a replacement that stuck, so for close to a year I was either the only employee, or it was just me and someone super new. I was hoping to wait until a new person got trained and could easily take over, but it just never happened. I was so stressed about giving my notice, but I couldn’t wait around forever. My boss was surprised and had to do some personal rearranging, but it was really no big deal. They’re still in business and that boss has given me excellent references.

    1. BananaRama*

      As a mentor once told me, “It will never be the right time for a dysfunctional organization. You cannot let their inability to manage hold your career back.” This was after I put off quitting for three months because my office was constantly understaffed and had a high-turnover. Their constant fires will always be constant fires with or without me there.

      1. Razilynn*

        Exactly! I felt bad leaving my horrible job because my awesome co-workers were going to get so much extra work. I actually put in my notice a few days after another member on my team did, so there was twice as much work to spread around to the already understaffed, overworked team. But my manager was psycho, the client was impossible, and there was no growth – it was an awful situation that was just going to get worse.

        I finally decided to leave, and it was the best career move to date. I keep in touch with a few people, and over a year later, guess what? It’s still horrible! More people have quit! Everyone left is still assigned far too much work for one person to do in even a 60-hour week. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and not feel guilty about putting yourself first.

  11. Jam Today*

    I’ve only ever quit one job (although I’ve been laid off from three) and the quitting went fine, I think my boss knew I was tapped and expected it, but then the C-suite proceeded to start rumors that I was having an affair with the person I went to work for afterwards so that sucked.

  12. stitchinthyme*

    I decided a long time ago that I didn’t owe any company my loyalty. If just about any company thinks that laying you off will be better for their bottom line, they will do it without hesitation. You have to look out for yourself first and foremost; no one is indispensable, and the company WILL go on without you.

    I have only ever had one boss who didn’t understand this, though, to be fair, that was also the one place I worked where I felt like I had a reasonably secure job — as long as the current owner was in charge, I’d probably always have a job there. But he also seemed to believe that he was doing his employees a favor by giving them jobs, and therefore things like annual raises (which are the norm in this industry) were not necessary. So when I left, he gave me a *massive* guilt trip, which did not at all make me inclined to reconsider my decision. My one regret is that I had to give him my notice over the phone, but that really wasn’t my fault; I had set my start date at my new job, and my boss was traveling (for work) on the day that I had intended to give him my notice, so my options were to do it over the phone or shorten my notice period.

    1. MostCake*

      Stitchinthyme you nailed it. My company is the same – they will cut you loose without a thought if it makes sense to them at the time, but then go bananas with misplaced anger at anyone with the gumption to leave. I’ve watched them let go of a few good people and “it’s just business” or perhaps someone gasp! gives notice, and not even a meeting to announce the departure and reinforce the troops. Yet forever will that person’s name be cursed and reputation regularly slandered. So when my time comes to give notice, I will give exactly 14 days as required and not look back. I will regret the inconvenience to my coworkers but honestly it wouldn’t matter. They’re still not going to hire someone for weeks and weeks and whomever that is will just be thrown in without any training anyways, so it’s always just a big sh!t show no matter how you go about it. And still, all without so much as a meeting or a darn email to acknowledge what has happened and how might it affect others and here’s a game plan or nuthin.. It’s just effin hell look what this ingrate has done to us all and how dare they.. and it’s just how they roll and may we all find a better company someday.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        The worst company I was ever at as far as that goes was a large US Internet provider whose name anyone who was around back in the days of dialup would definitely recognize. They were always having layoffs, and most of the time, the fact that one was coming would leak to the press beforehand, which of course triggered a wave of people jumping ship and lowered morale for everyone else. So in an effort to stop the leaks, the executives decided to make the decisions about who would be cut themselves, without consulting lower management — which meant, in essence, that the people deciding who’d be laid off had *zero* clue what any of the employees they were firing actually did, or who was essential.

        The result was totally predictable: a lot of key people were let go, and they had to bring many of them back as contractors (those who would actually consent to it, anyway) in order to keep their systems running. And a lot of other key people who *didn’t* get laid off were shopping their resumes around, because who really wants to work for a company that is going to do something like that. (This company barely exists anymore; it got bought out once or twice and no longer has any offices in my area.)

  13. wrumqvem*

    Three jobs ago, I was very anxious about leaving a job I’d been at for nearly eight years. The company was a terribly run start-up with a very mean CEO, but I was allowed to work from home and that was worth a lot, until the day it wasn’t enough. Once I got the words out, I immediately started feeling better. By the time I hung up the phone, I was elated — I. was. out. I spent the rest of the day mentally adding to the list of things I would no longer have to deal with. For the rest of my time there, I was downright giddy.

    When I was ready to leave my last job, I was anxious because a former boss had brought me over. Although I enjoyed working for him, I hated everything else about the job. I was worried about letting him down, but rationalized that, I had done all the heavy lifting the job required and that he could actually replace me with someone much less experienced. When I gave notice, my boss asked where I was going & he told me he’d interviewed at the very same company. Anyway, yea, good bosses might have that first “this sucks for me” moment, but then quickly have the “good for you” reaction.

  14. LG*

    I have one week left of my job at toxic workplace. The only thing I liked about it was my boss, and I’m his assistant. I was terrified to tell him, he later said he could tell what I was coming in to do because I looked like I was about to throw up. What’s annoying is that somehow (I still don’t know how) a coworker got wind of it and told him. I was waiting for him to be back in town so I could tell him in person, and she called him. I took that as confirmation that I’d made the right decision. My boss took it super well. The hardest part for me has been the two weeks. Everyone knows I’m leaving and so I’m no longer included on helpful information to finish my projects. It’s almost like I’m observing everyone rather than being part of a team. It’s weird and I hate it. They haven’t been able to find my replacement, and I wrapped up all the projects I could, so I’m mainly just reading AAM and trying to find ways to be successful at my new job!

    1. Bea*

      When my report gave notice we knew it was coming because she mentioned it to someone she trusted (sadly because that woman was a catty gossip and dumb as nails). I’m sorry that happened but thankful your soon to be former boss took it well.

      1. LG*

        Yeah, I suspect that either the one person I trusted mentioned it (she denies it even though I asked her in a very friendly way if she did), or someone overheard a closed-door phone conversation in my office. It’s such a bummer. Makes me feel like I can’t trust anyone at work.

        1. Irene Adler*

          It might have been that having your door closed was enough of a hint that something big was going on. The rest might have been surmised.
          Around here whenever there’s a door closed (and that is seldom) we all worry something is going on.

  15. ArtK*

    Please get out of my head. It’s crowded in here.

    In truth, thanks for writing this. I don’t know if it will help me get past my issues with this, but it’s still appreciated. My main concern is my co-workers who are already seriously short-staffed and under tremendous pressure.

  16. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    I was terrified of giving notice at my last job because my boss was pretty unstable and prone to flying off the handle upon hearing unwelcome news. I had even discussed with my husband that I planned on walking out and not coming back if she yelled at or was otherwise abusive towards me. I screwed up my courage and blathered through my resignation spiel (that I had memorized by that time from going over it in my head about a thousand times) and when I was done?


    It was so bizarre and out of character, but she was so legitimately happy for me for some reason that I still can’t figure out. She was never one to fake cheeriness – quite the opposite, in fact – so I knew she wasn’t just putting on a show. I took it for the completely unexpected gift it was, finished out my two weeks and got the hell out of dodge.

  17. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I felt a little guilty when I was interviewing because I genuinely liked my previous boss, I was just completely burned out on the type of work I was doing. Luckily, I had a very reasonable boss and she was supportive of me moving on. Because of that, I did give a longer than usual notice period which I know she appreciated.

    Now I’m struggling a little with wanting to check in and see how things are going, but I know that both I and my former colleagues need that separation before we can socialize.

  18. Bea*

    I sob quit my long term position of 10 plus years. Lengthy but oddly (especially for my casual approach to everything) painfully professional. Granted I ended up staying an extra year part time…life is weird.

    Then I blurted out “I have to move. I’ve got a new job in another state because my boyfriend moved there.” at my next boss.

    I was nervous every time because I loved each boss and job, I was either burnt out or life changing situations in those cases.

    Whereas the one place who killed all my good graces and had demonic ownership, my quitting was dropping a usual stack of paperwork on the boss’s desk and my resignation on top. Weasel didn’t speak a word to me the final 2 weeks while I cheerfully stayed horrifyingly chill.

    Quitting is like any breakup, some amicable and others you fantasize about lighting their favorite sweaters on fire out on the lawn.

  19. A (former) Cad Monkey*

    A Situation happened in Former Job (held for almost 12 years) that caused me to start job hunting. 10 months later Harvey hit my area and I was out of the office for about a week without working (old personal computer, barely ran the program I needed to do my job), I then came back into the office for about a week and took my scheduled vacation the following week, three weeks before an office relocation (to a location no one but the boss wanted utilizing an open office layout for people who have poor volume control).

    The time away from the office and the passive aggressiveness of the owner during this time solidified my resolve to tender my resignation on the Monday after my vacation ended. I was walked out the back door and had to wait while my belongings were packed and brought out to me. 8 months later, I’ve lost 40lbs, still don’t have a job, but I still feel it was the best decision career-wise I could have made. Was it a bad time for me to quit, yes. Was I the only IT person (on top of my drafting responsibilities) in the office, yes. Do I feel for my former co-workers, yes. Is it no longer my problem, yes.

  20. Bookworm*

    I think it can depend on the situation, your boss, the work load, etc. Most of the time I’m at the point where I don’t care or circumstances meant it wasn’t going to be a big deal (retail job, temp job that was going to end soon anyway, I had reached my ceiling and it was time to go, etc.).

    But I’ve had situations where I know it’s going to affect others or my boss didn’t want me to go or I didn’t know what was next, which was my last situation. I quit because I was miserable but I had no offer in hand and I wasn’t sure how it would affect my very small office. Of course it was fine since I suspect they were actually happy to see me go (bad fit).

    Sometimes you never know how your boss will react but a good one should know that life happens and sometimes people have to go because of circumstances, better job, etc.

  21. Anonymous Ampersand*

    This may be a weird question, but: fellow commenters, I feel like this is more a US thing than a UK one. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone be this nervous about resigning. Am I an outlier?

    1. Trillion*

      I am for sure interested to hear it from other countries’ point of view. All of my close friends (all U.S.) and I have always been super nervous to resign.

    2. The Winter Rose*

      I’m in the UK and I’ve never known anyone to angst about resigning, no. In my experience it’s always been a very matter-of-fact, straightforward thing.

    3. Snow*

      No I am in the UK and I definitely feel the same but my feeling is due to employment contracts here I’ve never had to keep a job search secret (like when people can’t use their current boss as a reference in the US in case they get pushed out) my bosses have mostly known when I have interviews and so its never been out of the blue. I’ve mostly worked public sector though which may also affect my impression.

    4. Kat*

      I feel totally nervous about ever doing it, and I’m in the UK. I need to find a new job and I keep putting off doing the whole process because secretly it gives me anxiety to think about leaving the safety net and telling my boss that I’m leaving. Maybe I think I am more valuable to them than I really am, but it is something I dread having to do when the time comes.

    5. Specialk9*

      The entire British employment interaction seems less fraught and awful, from this side of the pond.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      UK person here, and I am definitely nervous about if/when I leave my current job, although less so now than I was a year ago. It’s the combination of there never being a good time to go and not wanting to leave my colleagues in the lurch. I’ve slightly moved on from the idea of staying out of loyalty to people (in part due to moving into a new team late last year and not being particularly close to them), but I’m pretty sure I’ll still feel guilty leaving people behind. That said this is my first ‘proper’ (ie permanent) job, as well as being the one I’ve been in the longest in my career, so I’m also not sure how much of it is tied to leaving the safety net as well.

  22. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I had SUCH butterflies when I gave notice – I felt sick. It’s normal. Deep breath and try to relax, you’ll get through it.

  23. Irene Adler*

    Sure wish I could put this advice to work. I really, really do.

    I just received the strangest lecture from my boss. It had to do with him explaining to me a procedure that I will never have to follow. That’s ten minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
    Job hunting over 40 -stinks.

  24. Trillion*

    I was so nervous before quitting my last job that I could hardly sleep the night before. My boss was known to be quite shouty. The worst part was when I refused to reveal where I was going next because I didn’t want to chance being retaliated against by my boss calling my future boss (I moving job within the same industry, so people know one another).

    It went… okay. She didn’t shout, but she laid out all the reasons it was good that I was leaving. She had to change her tune a bit when HR instructed her to do whatever it takes to keep me (I, of course, did not accept any kind of counter offer. That’s very rarely a good idea).

    I’m so glad to be gone from that place and that woman.

    1. Irene Adler*

      Wow. This kills me: “laid out all the reasons it was good that I was leaving.” Yeah, sign of caring manager there. NOT!

      I sure hope you milked the “HR directed her to do whatever it takes to keep me” conversations to make them extra uncomfortable for your boss.

  25. Globetrotter G*

    I’ve always been that person who was nervous about giving my notice, and a former boss made my deepest fears come true about 5 years ago. I have always worked in hospitality, however, for a variety of reasons, I took a position in retail management about 6 years ago. I was in my role (and killing it!) for about a year, when I was presented with an incredible opportunity to return to the hospitality field. When I gave my notice to my boss, she YELLED at me that she COULDN’T BELIEVE that I would do this to her (just about a month before the busy holiday shopping season would begin) – and then she locked herself in her office and cried, literally all day. The next two weeks were not particularly pleasant…

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I might have jumped to Alison’s “let’s move up my last day” advice with a boss who acted like that! Glad you got out of there… wow!

    2. AnonymousInfinity*

      At my old toxic job, one of my coworkers chased my boss out of the building one evening and announced s/he was leaving on such and such date (it was at least 4 weeks notice). My boss called in sick for half of the next day, came in puffy eyed and sobbing, and spent about 7-8 hours (we were there REALLY late that night) moaning about how Coworker was leaving and what a betrayal it was. Then she made us all swear to never quit because “we’re family” – or to at least tell her if we were looking, so she could replace us first.

  26. Nclmrplm*

    I resigned last week and it was thrilling! No one was surprised – except my boss, who gaped at me for a solid minute. Since then, it’s been total radio silence. Every morning I hold my breath when I log in to the system, expecting to be secretly fired and locked out. They haven’t posted my position yet, which makes me think there are some behind the scenes shenanigans happening. Three more weeks!

    1. LG*

      This sounds a lot like my story! I only gave 2 weeks though. I think someone somewhere realized I had too much on my plate (non-profit land), and they did decide to split my job into 3 jobs. Which makes me laugh. But there has been a lot of behind the scenes shenanigans, and mostly people just ignore me. I keep thinking I’ll come in to find my stuff in boxes, but hasn’t happened yet. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, google “Dianne Lockhart laugh”… It’s downright therapeutic. If you haven’t ever seen the show “The Good Wife”, this character does that laugh pretty much anytime the shenanigans get ridiculous. Which has happened about every 15 minutes of my last 2 weeks. LOL.

  27. Libby*

    I was soooo nervous when I gave my notice at my previous job. I like my boss personally, but he not a great manager. I was also getting burned out because I was mostly doing work I didn’t like doing, and had no time for the work I liked doing (and was supposed to be my primary function).

    I could have stuck it out there (they did ask what they could do/change to keep me), but an amazing opportunity somewhere else fell into my lap and I couldn’t pass it up. Also, they wouldn’t have been able to match the pay I was getting. The main reason I left was because I was underpaid, and did not see a raise on horizon anytime soon with the way business was going.

  28. bye felicia*

    I quit my job of ten years a few months ago and it went exactly as bad as I expected. Despite amazing reviews each year, my boss screamed at me in front of the whole office that I was the most ungrateful, difficult person he’d worked with and that he had only kept me on for charity for the last several years, and that I should have appreciated that he gave me extra time off when my wife had cancer. Then he went around the office insisting that no one give me a good reference.

    In spite of all this, I haven’t felt anything but relief. As you can tell, that was a bad workplace to spend a decade of my life in. I only wish I’d left nine years ago.

    1. BananaRama*

      Mine used the “exit interview” to berate and belittle me. I sarcastically thought, “gee, wonder why I’m leaving.” It’s more a reflection of them and the workplace than the “egregious sin” of looking for something better for my career, my life, and my family.

      1. Irene Adler*

        I could never understand such behavior. Are such comments supposed to convince you to change your mind and rescind the notice? IF anything, it would make me leave sooner- like right then.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        For ToxicJob, my manager sat quietly through my whole exit interview – with their form to fill out in front of them – doing nothing,and when I finished (calmly and logically) talking through the issues in the department that made me decide to leave… wrote down “moving closer to family” on the form and told me I was dismissed.

        (Which was not even true; I was actually moving further from my family to escape this job) O-0

  29. Alli525*

    I burst into tears when I told my bosses I was leaving. I’d been at that job for 4+ years and I had learned & grown so much, despite a vaguely toxic culture (partially the industry, partially the specific company) and a petty former manager who hated my guts and tried multiple times to get me fired. But my other bosses had had my back from the beginning – I’m pretty sure one of them and JerkBoss had gotten into it over me a few times – and deciding to leave him was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.

    At that job, I was also the longest-tenured admin too, so I was REALLY worried about the ship going off course without me. But the CEO’s admin really has her sh*t together, so everything ended up okay after all.

  30. Oops*

    At a previous job, one time I walked into my boss’s office with a letter in hand and I was very solemn and serious, then I was like, kidding, I’m just pregnant! This letter is fake. Just want to give you a heads up on thinking about coverage while I’m out, etc.

    That was a mistake because it made my real resignation several months later (still pregnant) very awkward.

  31. Candid Candidate*

    I got an amazing job offer last week and had to put in my notice on Friday. The company I currently work for has an annual convention coming up at the end of June, and I’ve been given a lot of responsibility for it in my department – I’m expected to do a workshop presentation, assist with the closing night gala, and build several deliverables in time for it, on top of several other important projects and day-to-day tasks. I knew that if I just gave my two weeks’ notice, I would leave my team scrambling to manage all of this and cover my absence, and would possibly burn a bridge and lose out on valuable references. I put up with a lot in this job and felt like burning that bridge would have made the whole thing pointless. So when I gave my notice I offered my boss a few options: 1, I could leave in the standard two weeks. 2, I could wrap up projects over the next month leading up to convention and allow another coworker to attend in my place. 3, I could stay through convention at the end of June and start my new job in July. My boss said he was really grateful for my thoughtfulness and said he would get back to me once he spoke with our senior supervisors. And my boss at the new job said she really valued my thoughtfulness with my current team and said it demonstrated good character, and was happy to be flexible on the start date. I know it’s not certainly not ideal for everyone to do this and I lucked out with really reasonable employers, but it feels good to have navigated a tricky, anxiety-filled situation with a positive outcome.

    1. A (former) Cad Monkey*

      Congrats on the new job and both being flexible with your end/start dates.

  32. Bad Candidate*

    Timely as I was just searching AAM this weekend for how to have that conversation in the hopes that I’ll need to use it soon.

  33. chocoholic*

    I have been nervous when putting in resignations, and I’ve even been nervous when my husband has done it. It has all worked out fine. I think part of it is that the job search has gone on for a while, and leaving has always been somewhat theoretical, and then suddenly it is real. You are quitting your job, but you haven’t started the new one yet and there is always some unknown with the new job. I get why it can be and is nerve-wracking, just because it is a Big Change that suddenly is going to be out in the open when before it was all inside your head. Add to that bosses and co-workers who don’t take the news well and there’s a whole new layer of reasons to be nervous.

    1. Specialk9*

      Oh yeah, that shift from theoretical to actually happening is rough! In interviews I’m super confident – after I’m committed to the new thing I’m a wreck, until I get into it and realize it’s totally doable. I’m old enough and had enough therapy to recognize it’s just a thing I do, and I have a shorthand term for it.

  34. aes_sidhe*

    I’m honestly daydreaming about quitting now (have a job interview on Wednesday.) I’ve been at my current job at a law firm for 11 years, but the litigation paralegal quit, the associate attorney quit, no receptionist, and I’m getting stuck with all the work. There have been zero interviews in the last month for the paralegal job (including the 2 weeks if her notice and the 2 weeks after her last day), and the associate quit last Wednesday.

    So, yeah, I’m done and can’t wait to get out of here.

  35. Economist*

    For all the weirdness and lack of personal skills that economists as a profession have, they are really good about job changing. If it’s not the right fit, or if someone else offered more money, then the individual needs to change jobs. It’s all about the labor market and market efficiencies, so it’s not personal at all and there is no sense of betrayal. It’s not helping anyone to have a “non-optimal” situation. Economists are happy for a colleague who has found a better job.

  36. AudreyParker*

    I’ve helped myself with this feeling by creating loads of documentation about each job so that whoever has to deal with it after doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it still feels a bit like letting the team down to leave.

    That being said, I seem to have taken it to a new level by worrying about it during my actual job hunt – I’m so afraid that I might change my mind/perform poorly a few months in or decide to leave town at the end of the year that I worry about even applying to companies and then actually getting the job but bailing on them after they’ve spent time and money onboarding. Fantastic way to keep yourself from applying to *anything* that isn’t full telecommute and staying unemployed. I guess there really is such a thing as being too conscientious… (and any suggestions for getting around this are definitely welcome!)

  37. Llamarama (Ding Dong)*

    I felt absolutely sick when I went to work the day I was giving my notice last summer. I was leaving to work for the company’s only direct competitor and I was afraid they were going to give me a very hard time, I was going to cry, etc. etc. etc. Instead, my then boss said something along the lines of ‘Oh that’s great! I’ve been losing sleep trying to convince the powers that be that you bring value to the company.’ This just a few weeks after an outstanding annual review. It was such a well-timed reminder of why I was leaving, I felt no urge to cry and more or less danced out. It still makes me laugh.

  38. Competent Commenter*

    I was on the other side of this dynamic back when I’d only been in business a few years. I had one part-time assistant, the first person I’d ever supervised. We seemed to have a good, relaxed relationship. She worked for me for two years. She got super sulky and touchy for a couple of weeks and then quit, and was surprised when I congratulated her on finding a job that was a better fit, moving on up in her career, etc. I was genuinely happy for her. I mean, she wasn’t going to work in my tiny business forever! Of course she was going to move on. I was glad I’d had her for so long as it was.

    She was so relieved and then after that stopped being sulky and touchy for her final two weeks. I guess she was just really stressed about telling me, but I don’t know why. As a supervisor I tend to be a softy, I’m generally told I’m a very nice person, and the job was low stress. I guess she just assumed that a supervisor would always be upset when you quit.

    1. Irene Adler*

      Just a thought: maybe she feared she was letting you down or disappointing you by quitting.
      That aspect is one reason I’ve been at my job for so long.

  39. Rhymetime*

    I can relate to this. My last job was for a nonprofit with terrific managers and colleagues and interesting work. A recruiter had reached out to me for a position eslewhere that was a promotion, and while I was interviewing, coincidentally someone else on my team gave notice and quit. Because I didn’t yet have an offer, I had to bite my tongue as managers talked with me about shifts in my work responsibilities during that transition, and it felt crummy to keep a secret from them because they had been such advocates for me. As expected, my news landed hard with the challenging timing. They were sad to see me go, but were ultimately happy for me to have a great opportunity, and I’ve maintained a great relationship with them and the organization since my departure.

    1. rldk*

      I felt very similarly – great coworkers, great organization. Unfortunately, bad direct manager, which led to most of said great coworkers leaving en masse. More & more work piled up with each resignation, but the bad manager’s handling of it made it hard to feel *that* bad about also leaving. I just felt bad for the org and my remaining coworkers.

  40. Cruciatus*

    Long story short-totally normal! I feel it with every job I’ve moved on from and will probably feel it again in the future.

    It was harder to quit a job that was OK with a boss who really liked me than it was my last job with a micromanaging supervisor. I was so nervous to quit at the job I liked–I don’t even really know why when I think back on it. My supervisor could be a hothead at times, but usually only at other higher ups doing stupid stuff and never at me. But he liked me so much. Maybe too much! Other people would tell me how great he thought I was–that was weird (and a little nice). I asked the assistant director if she could be there as well “just in case”. Well, I told him, he said “oh fuuu…” and cut himself off–then immediately held out his hand to shake mine. He knew I was worth more money and more challenging work. We keep in touch a few times a year and he tells me I’m still missed, but that he’ll always be a glowing reference for me whenever I need it.

    My last job I liked but had the micromanaging supervisor. She sort of saw it coming as I told her when I had an interview in another department and then I did get the job so at that point it wasn’t unexpected that I’d leave (but never again will I give a months’ notice unless I have to!). It was harder to tell her about the interview but she said she likes people to advance and blah blah. Actually, I remember now–when I told her I wanted to talk with her she thought I was about to tell her I was sick or something. It was almost a relief to say “I have an interview with department X on Thursday”! She said all the right things even though we didn’t particularly get along.

    So it’s hard, but even with two very different bosses and very different reasons for leaving each time, in the end my supervisors had normal reactions and never made it out like I was screwing them/the department over. I hope it gets easier (though I don’t have any plans to leave at the moment)!

  41. Oxford Coma*

    The only bad experience I had quitting was leaving a part-time waitressing job. I was nervous giving notice because I’d only been there for six weeks, but I unexpectedly found a full-time position in my field with benefits. It was a no-brainer.

    The owner acted matter-of-fact with me in the moment, but later went around telling the other servers that “Oxford got a real job” which is language I would NEVER have used. The career servers were quite cold to me after that.

  42. Elmyra Duff*

    I worked at the best coffee shop ever but with the worst manager of all time while I was in grad school. When I quit, I sent her a “Sorry for your loss” card and my copy of the front door key. I still feel good about this.

  43. College Career Counselor*

    I think there’s also a subset of people out there who view quitting a job as something of a personal failure because it means they didn’t try hard enough, didn’t work hard enough, or they’ve never had to quit anything before and they’re concerned that this says something about their character.

    My spouse took a job many years ago that quickly turned turned out to be not as advertised, with lots of shady shit regarding ordering medically unnecessary evaluations of patients in long-term care facilities to get the reimbursement from insurance for the procedure. Which is FRAUD. And it would have all come down on my spouse because it was spouse’s license (not the long-term care facility) that was on the line. And yet, there was anxiety about quitting because:
    1) spouse had never quit anything before
    2) spouse would be going back on spouse’s word (to a shady, fraudulent employer, but STILL)
    3) quitting your job wasn’t expected or done in spouse’s family

    TL;DR: Spouse quit the job in short order, immediately felt a huge sense of relief, re-calibrated the barometer for worthwhile reasons to leave a toxic job/work situation, and found a new job without those issues a week later.

  44. Trout 'Waver*

    Can I just say that the prose in the intro paragraph is amazing? Bonus points for using the word flounce in that context.

  45. AnonymousInfinity*

    I couldn’t sleep the night before I gave notice at my toxic job. I handed my boss my resignation letter, told her I was going back into the field I came from and that related to my college degree, and she just stared and stared and stared and stared and stared at me, speechless. Although initially terrified of the meeting, I struggled to keep a straight face, because it was such a ridiculous situation with her STARING at me. She couldn’t imagine why a 26-year-old with a college degree making $30K on salary and working 60 hours a week without breaks (lunch or otherwise), with regular bouts of screaming and throwing and public humiliations and fist pounding, would want to leave. She was ice cold pissed off and insulted for the entire four week notice period I gave – how could I dare leave her prestigious office to go back to [inferior industry/company]. I tried using her as a reference one time, about five months after I left the job (because I really didn’t want the job I took to get out of there; I just wanted to get out of there), and she wouldn’t stop bothering me about coming back to work for her. Sigh.

  46. YarnOwl*

    I went through all of this when I quit my last job! I was in a toxic organization, working too many hours and not being paid nearly enough, and I knew I had no future there. But my boss always went to bat for me and my team members, and me leaving was going to screw my team over big time. I almost cried when I talked to my boss and put in my notice! But I was so glad when it was done, and now, two years later, I’m so glad to be in a different place, where I am treated a lot better.

  47. Cat Lady*

    I have been at a toxic job with a toxic boss for three years. But I still or major anxiety about turning in my resignation, I even started sweating. And when my boss tried to guilt me into extending my notice period, it took everything in me to utter a weak “No, I Can’t I’m sorry.” Instead of caving in. Even though I knew full well that agreeing would conflict with my new start date. So glad I got it over with though!

  48. Those Flowers Are an Institution*

    Coming from a country where the culture really emphasizes or values community and family and togetherness and collaboration, it’s very difficult to unmoor myself from this mindset. I definitely feel nervous and guilty about breaking the news to my immediate heads.

  49. boop the first*

    I always feel a little bit bad because I tend to be conscientious and stubbornly reliable in jobs that are typically left for the flaky types, and I know that training sucks and there would be an unpleasant lurch. But not THAT bad.

    However, when I quit a job that already treated me like garbage for nearly a decade I expected to float out of there on cloud 9, especially since most of the coworkers I’d miss had already moved on to better things. But I got along with my manager and was a little guilty. Welp, I didn’t need to be guilty. Manager expressed such little concern (despite the fact that my leaving meant he’d have to do his own work from then on, also they’d be losing their cheapest and most versatile worker). Also gave me a bit of the cold shoulder during my notice period and sent me home early on my last day. I can’t help but feel a little rejected. I wasted my entire 20s!

  50. Media Monkey*

    i had an awful time leaving my first job after university. it was a really disfunctional company – bullying/ public humilation was allowed and excused if it was one of the “stars” that did it, i worked all hours, got gaslighted (gaslit?), had promised promotions taken away as they had moved the goalposts. there’s so much bad stuff that i didn’t realise was bad as it was my first “real” job – “we’re just like family here, don’t you know”! i handed in my notice and they refused to accept it, saying that they were sure they could offer me something to keep me (they couldn’t). i ended up telling them 10 days later that my last day would be as per my resignation letter and i didn’t want to negotiate any more.

  51. greatestheights*

    I really needed to read this. I’ve had a rough couple of years re: quitting jobs, and they really have run the gamut in terms of experiences. Although I was sick about telling my boss of three years that my husband had gotten a job in a new state, she was great about it — she put me up in a hotel for two weeks so that I had time to properly train my replacement, was completely flexible about me taking time off to actually move, and then threw me a surprise going away party. In the new state, I job hunted for months and finally accepted a position I thought might be workable, but that wasn’t really the right fit; I resigned after only five months to take a job at a nonprofit that I was truly excited about. Within one month, I had resign and then immediately walk out of that job because the leadership at the organization was so shady…and because the position was not at all what I was told it would be. Lots of lessons learned in six months, to say the least.

    Now, I’m about to move out of state (again) to go back to grad school. I’m nine months into my current position, and I honestly am afraid to give notice. I know that this advice is solid, and that it’s really no big deal; after all, if they laid me off or fired me, they’d find a way to go on. I just feel incredibly guilty for leaving after less than a year (again) and am afraid they’ll think I tricked them or something. The truth is, I had no idea I was going to apply to grad school when I took this job. The stars all aligned, and I’m so thrilled to have been accepted…but I also have enjoyed this job and my coworkers, and hate the idea of leaving my boss in a lurch.

    Anyway. An incredibly long-winded, late comment to say thanks for this. It’s really nice to know I’m not alone in feeling this way about quitting. Now, to actually make myself do it.

  52. Scarrie Fisher*

    I just found out that my boss knows I plan on leaving (in the somewhat near future, but to relocate, because I can’t take this city anymore) so now I get to spend the next two weeks panicking about how exactly to officially tell her before my review.

    Hey guys, don’t talk about moving when you work in a small office and everyone has a big mouth! I realize this is my own fault and how dumb dumb dumb it was.

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