In Defence of Throwing Caution to the Wind, and Starting Anew

If you’re currently fighting the urge to run flailing into a metaphorical woods to escape your current living/working/emotional situation, this piece might resonate with you. May I offer the disclaimer that whilst I may have made a drastic change within my life and one that I hope transpires to be for the better: I haven’t a bloody clue as to what comes next.

Approximately a year and a half ago, I graduated from university and embarked upon the hell-bent mission of securing a respectable job, a reasonable distance away from my hometown. After battling an existential crisis that resided all too reliably at the bottom of a bottle of wine — in that I was convinced I was a failure doomed to the dole queue — I secured a content marketing job for one of the high street’s strongest retailers, three-hundred miles away. Bags were packed; off I went on my merry way, positively humming with the prospect of new horizons and the validation that I was a capable, intelligent person.

Fast-forward fifteen months and I’m sitting in an A&E waiting room, blood pooling into my slippers, for the second time since I made the leap to move away. With the razor blade still stowed in my dressing gown, so far removed from that capable, intelligent person I’d started out as, I settled in for the all too familiar long night ahead.

For around six months, the move and the new job had been fantastic, despite the fact that I knew absolutely nobody in the area and outside of work, life was perpetually lonely. I was finally writing for a living and frequently showered with praise and adulation by my tight-knit creative team. The high-flying lifestyle, the one my parents had drummed into me as the only option, was a functioning reality.

Then something went wrong. I saw changes in family and friends from home, especially with former school-friends moving in with boyfriends and branching off into new eerily domestic endeavours. Meanwhile, I’d been single for nearing two years and still quietly hung up on an ex, unable to relate to the quietly envy-inspiring, whilst also completely mundane conversations about shacked up life. I became increasingly convinced that life was moving on without me and eventually, all that I’d nurtured in my younger years would be swallowed up by the ‘new’ — the ‘new’ that depended solely on me setting all qualms aside and working to be the person I thought I was supposed to be, regardless of consequence.

Getting off the train of a Sunday evening after visiting home became an increasingly harrowing prospect, with the walk past the office inspiring scathing glances at the place that was offering so much and yet slowly suffocating every part of who I used to be. I became reserved and developed a debilitating speech impediment whenever speaking to my boss, purely as a result of the pressure to maintain the high esteem I’d been held with. As the months passed, I began to doubt my every decision within the company and fought the constant overlying thought that I was an imposter.

Work quality and deadlines never suffered, though the sick days started to rack up in a short space of time. After one last-ditch attempt at distracting myself from the void outside of my vocation by taking on a host of projects, I slipped and broke my ‘clean’ self-harm streak. Once that line was crossed, the pull got too appealing and once-every-four-months on a minor scale became three-times-plus-a-week, hitting its climax with the aforementioned hospital trip.

The day after that I resigned — to the fact that my living situation was toxic, and from my job. Due to the health aspects, I was able to forgo the month’s notice and went to clear out my desk the next day. That was a week ago, and I’m still half-convinced that in a couple of days or so, I’ll board another train south and go back into work like nothing happened. Yet it did, and I gave up what would’ve blossomed into a covetable career with that company — but at what cost?

Now, I’m back living with my mother — a situation I was desperate to get away from post-graduation, with absolutely no idea what I want to do next, thinly veiled to the social sphere as “freelancing”. Maybe I’ll opt for a break from the 9–5 life, take a backseat with a waitressing job for the rest of the year, focus on more recreational writing. Maybe I’ll sort my head out, seek out some freelance clients and embark on the travelling adventures I’ve always craved. Maybe I’ll crumble into nothing and sleep until 4pm every day, perpetually drunk.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t end up the latter but, whatever I decide to do with myself from here on out, I’m quietly proud that I had the guts to carve myself a different path. And I urge anyone else who is hanging on by a thread to take a step back and weigh up whether the pros outweigh the cons. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re earning, or how perfect your life may seem to the outside world — if you’re not happy, you’re merely existing and that will never change unless you do.

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