Ever since I was at school I have worked hard with one goal in mind:
To wake up in the morning and NOT hate going to work.
It seemed pretty simple. This was one of the key reasons I powered my way through education- loving the freedom good grades seem to promise.
When I landed my first job in London nearly 3 years ago, I was sure I’d “made it”. 23 and already office bound on the Central Line every morning, I was suitably proud of myself. All the hard work paid off. Now — I was happy!
Except, I wasn’t. My first few months were desperately lonely, for a city of over 12 million I was struggling to find anyone I wanted to call friend. My relationships in my hometown unravelled, pulled apart by distance and my wage. Jealousy rose from the people I trusted most until I just cut all ties. I was more alone than ever.
Gradually however, with the help of strangers, flatmates and old friends who popped up in peculiar spaces, I began to love London. I enjoyed work, I enjoyed being self-sufficient, I enjoyed the hot yoga and rooftop bars. I discovered hidden parks and quirky shops through walking my way across some of the city’s most iconic areas. Eventually I moved to East London, enticed by talk of originality and men with man buns. Sorrynotsorry.
I was content, but not happy. I loved my house and the area it was nestled in, but I was never there because 40 hours of my week were spent behind a desk in an office I no longer felt connected to. I’d grown, the company was in a state of flux and the inefficiency of my working week began to bleed into every aspect of my life in a way I wasn’t prepared for.
I had everything 23 year old me had ever dreamed of but 25 year old me was alone and lost. I was frustrated in my current location, both geographically and metaphysically. I was frustrated with myself for being unhappy despite having all the key ingredients that, on paper, added up to young professional bliss. I wondered what was wrong with me and then quickly buried that thought with more spending.
In early June, I broke. I remember lying in my bed and thinking that there was simply no point in getting out of it. My energy was gone thanks to a combination of fitful nights and poor nutrition. I’d been wearing a heavy costume in front of friends, flatmates and colleagues for so long that I simply didn’t have the strength to put it on any more. Faced with little room for development I didn’t see the point of going to work, faced with the knowledge that I was suffering from the most first world problems imaginable, I hated myself even more. There are people out there with real problems who would and do risk everything for just a fraction of what I had. Yet I had the audacity to be unhappy? Such a failure.
That’s the key word: failure. I couldn’t work out where I’d gone wrong or what was wrong with me. I had worked hard, I had achieved the good grades, I had walked the path that I was told, I had achieved. Yet the skills I had developed were being wasted, my confidence so low I didn’t even believe I had any skills to offer. I sobbing instead of sleeping, realising that I no longer knew who I was or what made me happy.
It’s a cliché that it is always darkest before the dawn, but clichés exist for a reason. In the same week I really faced up to how lost, alone and unsure I was, things began to change.
It started with more time being spent in nature and it was escalated by a network of people who didn’t follow traditional career plans or even work in offices. I was sceptical before I respected the digital nomad lifestyle, then I full on began to envy it but from afar. This was a lifestyle choice for others, far too risky for me…
I met people who changed the definition of a “job”. People who made a living from exchanging skills, not cash, sharing experiences through stories, not company updates. These were people who were far from “successful” in the terms I’d grown up with yet had the biggest smiles and passion for living I have ever had the pleasure to witness.
Through a summer of sport and adventures I began to discover what it really means to find your Tribe. My mind-set expanded as my ambition returned and I started to wonder “What if” instead of “Why me?” By the time the seasons changed, I had changed too and I suddenly realised that the world is a whole lot bigger than I’d allowed it to be since moving to London.
As my positivity flourished in the 5–9, it began to nosedive faster than ever in the 9–5. It wasn’t any one moment, action or person but a steady erosion of my purpose in the workplace. I had found my passion and being office bound wasn’t it. I began to nourish small seedling ideas in my spare time which soon grew into beanstalks that wouldn’t fit in my backpack any longer. My dreams had outgrown my reality and I realised I simply had to give something up.
So I did.
I quit my day job. With nowhere else to go and a plan so that is so partially formed it makes Casper the Friendly Ghost seem solid. In fact it’s more of a treasure map; I love it for that.
Insane? Maybe. Reckless? Probably. An adventure? Definitely.
I’ve been perching on the ledge for so long, curling my toes over and under this seemingly impossible cliff, that knowing I’ve already leapt feels unreal. I’m going to throw myself out into the universe and I’ll either fly, glide or fall. I suspect it will be a mixture of all three.
Now is the time and here is the place. I don’t know where I am going or what I will do but my smile has never been wider. Just creating space for new opportunities has lifted me higher than I have been in years and right now the view is looking pretty sweet. I’m sure the road ahead is far from smooth, especially as my housing contract is ending and my bank account is empty, but a decision that feels so right just can’t be wrong. Hard and challenging, yes, but also rewarding.
So this is why I’ve given up my job with nothing else lined up. Carried by the courage of others and blessed to have support from every direction I feel it would be a travesty not to try life outside a traditional idea of a steady income. The response from others has been overwhelmingly positive with the only person doubting if it’s the right move being me. The smattering (ok, one) negative response I’ve received came from a friend who said she simply couldn’t understand my decision which is beyond ok. This isn’t her journey to understand, it’s mine and my understanding of it improves every day.
This is a personal decision I’ve made public in the hopes that maybe It will help others. It is also a statement to the world that I’m living life on my own terms. This is a starting point I am documenting so I can look back on it, for better or worse, and remember that if nothing else I made this choice.
Best get on with it.