‘Sweet, so would I
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow.’
(Act 2, Scene 2) Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The above scene, from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is arguably one of the most famous in American literature. Juliet uttered the most recognized line, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ to her star-crossed lover, Romeo as they said good night.
What makes that specific line so fascinating is that ‘sweet sorrow’ is an oxymoron. How can something be both sweet and sorrowful? In the context of this scene, Juliet is expressing the feeling of sorrow at their parting, but the anticipation of reuniting the next day is so joyful, it is worth the pain of separation.
I think this feeling of ‘sweet sorrow’ translates beautifully in many experiences we have throughout our personal and professional lives. In our personal lives it could be a time when you had to say goodbye to something or someone important to you. Perhaps it was a loved one who passed away or a child who left for college. The sorrow might be that a period of time (childhood) or a relationship has ended (death), but the sweetness is the memories that will forever be cherished and revisited.
Professionally, ‘sweet sorrow’ could represent moving to a new position within an organization—or even to a new organization entirely. The sorrow is maybe leaving co-workers, a boss—and even the job itself. The sweetness could be the anticipation of learning new skills, meeting new people and being exposed to new challenges and experiences.
Change is movement. Change is evolution. Change is growth. Without change—and perhaps sorrow to some degree—would the pleasure be as sweet?
‘Sweet sorrow,’ is the perfect term to define how I am feeling after accepting an exciting opportunity at a new employer and resigning from my position as Human Resources & Communications Director for Proteus, Inc. after 26 years of service. There is sorrow in leaving my team, coworkers, supervisor and the organization as a whole. On the flip side, I am filled with excitement, curiosity, and anticipation of learning new skills, sharing my knowledge and challenging my inner voice that has previously held me back from trying new things.
I’m venturing into unknown territory and with that comes fear and uncertainty. There is no guarantee that the reward will be sweet, but without tying, how would one know? Change is scary. I’m the first to admit it. But if you are not growing, it’s time for a change.
If you are experiencing either of the two following career killers, it might be time for a change:
1. Exhibiting Complacency- If you have become unmotivated or dread coming to work, it might be time for a change. Change doesn’t mean leaving the organization or job you love. It may mean applying for a different position within the organization or asking your supervisor for additional duties. Nothing impresses a supervisor more than initiative! It may mean volunteering on a committee or asking to support your team on a special project. If you are complacent, not only are you failing yourself, you are failing the organization. (Thee needeth to moveth)
2. Lacking Growth- It might be time for a change if you are not growing professionally. That could mean that you have reached the height of your opportunities within an organization. It may mean that you are not learning new skills or being challenged based on your knowledge and expertise.
If you feel that you are not growing, ask for additional training, research certifications or enhance your knowledge through educational opportunities offered through your organization or on your own. You may also join a professional group or volunteer on a local board where you can make contacts and access resources to better your career. Last, read, read, read! If you are not taking advantage of the thousands of personal and professional books available, you are missing out on broadening your imagination, improving your verbal and written communication, and developing your emotional intelligence and ability to self-reflect. (Thee needeth to groweth)
The great thing about both of these career killers is that YOU have control over the outcome. YOU write the story of your personal and professional journey. And YOU decide if it will read like a Shakespearian tragedy.
‘Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ To my Proteus family, this is not good night or good bye, but a joyful farewell.