Just Start. Leaping into the Unknown in 2016

The last day of 2015 was my last day in the office. My last day at a company I had worked for for five years. I had been successful. I had been well paid and well liked. And as time passed, I had become miserable.

I remembered that once upon a time, I had wanted to be a journalist. I even went so far as to take a Master’s degree at the University of Arts London. I wrote ad hoc articles for friends launching digital magazines and dabbled in the blogosphere. I read articles published in The Guardian and The New York Times, watched documentaries on Panorama, Newsnight and Dispatches and felt full of fire. I had wanted to inform and inspire change in the world. And I had left that ambition (the only one I had ever really had) by the wayside in favour of a safety net.

I was tired. I had a demanding job that I couldn’t switch off from, even after what was sometimes a 50-hour week. I was trapped. Trapped by my own unrelenting need to do a good job, and by my loyalty to an organisation that I felt I had grown up with professionally.

But there comes a point when you think, if I don’t do something, if I don’t move on from this, I’m going to look back on this point in 20 years and recognise this moment as my opportunity.

So, I started. I made plans to squirrel some money away to spin my own safety net. I wrote more. I read more. And I walked away from a job that no longer fulfilled me.

People keep asking me how I feel. There are so many words. And the tide can change in a second. It’s overwhelming. It’s terrifying. It’s exciting. It’s liberating. There are moments of ‘maybe I can do this’, often swiftly followed by ‘who are you kidding’.

But today was different. Today was my first official day as a full-time freelance writer. Sitting at my hand-me-down desk (thank God my Dad never chucks anything away), shoehorned into a corner under the window of my bedroom, I took a moment to stop and appreciate what I had accomplished already.

I have started. Yes there is a lot left to do, and a long way left to go. There are people to contact, articles to read, stories to write, new tricks of the trade to learn. I don’t know where I will end up, I don’t even know if I’m good enough to do this. But I keep asking myself, why not me? Why not now?

Because I have started.