A leap of faith: taking a step into the unknown

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So I did a Thing.

A big, scary, Thing that a lot of people thought I was absolutely mad for even thinking of doing.

I resigned from my nice, secure, regularly-paying-a-salary job to take a massive leap into the unknown and start up my own business full time.

My personal styling and wardrobe decluttering business is something I have been trying to get going on the side for a long while, but there hasn’t been enough time in my schedule to do it until now. Between working a full time job, and numerous health issues (chronic illness makes it difficult to multitask sometimes when you’re not sure how much energy the gods of health have gifted you with that day) it hasn’t been possible for me to commit to getting the business off the ground.

And to be honest, I wasn’t that happy at work anymore. The realisation of this was a bit of a kick in the teeth for me, because I used to really enjoy my job. I had been in the job for almost eight years. I had seen so many changes, so many people come and go, but I was always happy to stay because the culture was the right fit, I had friends, the pay was decent and I had a fairly okay work-life balance. Then the company got bought out by a bigger organisation, and changes started being made that didn’t feel right to me. The happy place I had known and enjoyed working for was changing, and I didn’t like it.

I’m not averse to change. But what was happening at work wasn’t really sitting well with my personal values and my longer term life plan. The office was renovated and the new layout was, quite frankly, hell for an introvert like me, as I was surrounded by loud people who chatted constantly and my trusty headphones couldn’t block them out. I couldn’t concentrate, and for a detail-driven job, that wasn’t good. The team I had been working in was split into two, and I didn’t like how divided the team was because of this . I kept my section fairly collaborative across the split but there became this odd underlying sense of ‘them vs us’. It’s not entirely obvious, but comments get made and I think the divide will grow the longer the split remains.

The decision to resign was a culmination of a few things, not just the fact that there were massive organisational changes. My chronic illness (Crohn’s disease, it’s such fun) means that my health can be rather unpredictable, and it hasn’t been good the past few months. I had had ‘too many’ sick days, according to work, but they were aware of my condition and knew that I didn’t LIKE being off sick, so their implication that I had gone off on the sick for no valid reason really irked me. It’s not as if I didn’t pull my weight and more when I was in the office. I had very often dragged myself into work when I was feeling utterly rubbish, when my gut was hurting so much that I could barely move and when I was feeling so dizzy and spaced out I probably shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a car. Yet I got up, got dressed, slapped on some makeup and a fake smile and off I went to work, where I continued to do my job training and mentoring and producing data to the best of my ability.

And in March, my body decided that hey, it’s time for a massive flare-up. I stopped eating, pretty much, and was very ill. Couple this with a kidney infection, add in a ton of back pain, which turned out to be an inflamed sacroiliac joint (thanks, body), and I was not a very well person. At the same time, I was given two new hires to train – lovely guys, but they proved a challenge to train and the fact they weren’t picking the job up the way my previous new hires had made me doubt myself as a trainer. I am not one for self-doubt when it comes to my work, whatever it is I am doing, and to feel like I was suddenly inadequate after so long and having had so many new hires having gone through my training regime and passed with flying colours was really demoralising.

My superiors assured me that it was them, not me, but no matter how many times I was told that it wasn’t my training, that the material I had was excellent and the other people I had trained were proof of that, I still felt like I wasn’t a good trainer anymore. The stress of trying to get the new hires through the program whilst suffering with a ton of health issues was making me even more ill. I took very few sick days though, and worked through pain and being unable to walk further than the water cooler or bathroom. And bless my trainees, they would go and get me water and tea and stuff. Still, it was hard, and the stress was making my health even worse.

The stress was affecting my mental health too. Not only the stress of dealing with the job and the illness, but also wondering if I was going to get in trouble for being off sick again for a condition I can’t control. HR started demanding doctor’s notes, and as I see a private doctor, these aren’t free, and my doctor even said that I shouldn’t need them. I told her that my office think I have had too much time off sick, which she thought was ridiculous, especially for someone with a chronic condition, and the slightly sarcastic undertone of one of the early sick notes indicated to me that she thought it was unfair. I like my doctor, she’s great.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was one day when I literally could not walk due to my back pain. I woke up and couldn’t move, and almost crawled out of bed to feed the cat and get ready for work. But I didn’t go to work, because I had a breakdown. I fed my cat and sat on my bed and I cried and I cried and I cried. I cried at how sick I was feeling, and how much pain I was in. I cried because I had to sit through a forty minute commute in rubbish traffic. I cried because my new trainees were so difficult to train and they didn’t listen. I cried because I had just had enough and I physically and mentally couldn’t go on.

And yet I didn’t resign on the spot. I took a ‘mental health day’, asked for it as leave citing a family emergency, and spent most of it lying on my back in tears, thinking about everything. occasionally being fed cups of tea and cheese sandwiches by my auntie. I went back to work the next day, but with a slightly different outlook on things. Lying alone thinking about stuff can really make you realise that your situation is, in fact, crap and you have to do something about it before you die or lose yourself.

So at the beginning of April I sat down and wrote my letter of resignation. It took a lot of guts to do that, and assurances that I wasn’t going to tank financially. I did a lot of maths in between my little meltdown and writing the letter. I handed it in and everyone was all ‘whaaaat’. They had always assumed I would never leave (in fact it was a bit of a joke between me and one of my work friends, that we would see everyone else leave and it would just be us two aged about sixty sat in the same desks) so when I did turn in my resignation, there was a LOT of surprise. As well as a certain amount of ‘oh god, now what?’ from a few people, because I was literally the only trainer for my section. But I had given my four weeks notice, and I was going to make sure the person taking over my role was fully prepared, and that my new hires would be trained up and competent before I left.

The problem was that towards the middle and end of April I got even sicker, and was off for days, so I ended up not working out my notice period and cut it short because I was simply too sick. That disappointed me a bit, because I wanted to hand over my work properly and get those new hires up to standard. I wonder how they are doing sometimes – I hope they’re okay!

It’s been a month to the day since my last day at work and a lot has changed in the month. I have got so much better health-wise. Everyone says I’m a different person, I’m a lot nicer and I look so much happier. There is still stress in my life, yes (family and health, but those are always there), but nowhere near as much as there was when I was working full time.

The changes that have happened to me physically since leaving work have been quite strange to see happen. Now I’m out of an air-conditioned, sealed building, my skin has gone from ‘parchment dry’ to ‘just normally dry’, which is how it used to be, I am cursed with dry skin (expect a post on living with that affliction at some point!). My hair has done the same – I can’t snap it in my fingers anymore. I haven’t had a cold or a snuffle in a month, just my usual May hayfever caused by some pollen that’s around this time of year – I guess I don’t have four hundred other people’s germs circulating around me anymore. And my flare up and my back pain and my kidney infection got better so quickly. I am taking medication for them all, yes, but I have noticed that I am healing faster than I normally would be if I was having to drag myself into an office every day.

Resigning a secure job was scary, but I am glad I did it. It now gives me the time to focus on getting my styling business started, as I can devote every day to it and not just an hour here or there. I no longer have to decline networking invitations. I can go to events during the day instead of just in the evening. I can set my own deadlines and read and work when I want. If I feel inclined, I can work in my dressing gown. I get to actually see my cat for more than half an hour a day. I am eating better, I am happier, I am enjoying life for the first time in ages. I know it’s going to take a while to get the business off the ground, but I have a ton of resources at my disposal and am building a network, so hopefully it won’t take too long! I am doing what I really want to do, which I never thought I would do – paying bills often trumps doing what you love, unfortunately.

And of course, I actually have time to blog now. I’m not so tired that I can’t think of a blog post. I’m aiming to blog about fashion, style and beauty, because that’s my field, but the ‘West Surrey’ part of the name has made me think that I would like to blog about what’s going on in the local area. For instance, there are so many excellent pubs and eateries around here. I smell a series of reviews. There’s local events – Sunday has the Phoenix Rising music festival, Monday is the Surrey County show, Party in the Park is in July… my local area is full of great things to see and do, and I can see the blog maybe heading off in a more local direction. And I am a bit of an experimental cook, so maybe a recipe if I get some local ingredients that are rather fab… hmm!

Eventually. I need to kick the last of this flare up and get properly organised with a plan for the business and for the blog. It’s all a bit scary, and a bit of a jump into the unknown.

But if you don’t make the leap, you’ll forever be standing on the edge wondering what’s down there.

I’m glad I jumped. Where I land now is entirely up to me.

2 Comments

  1. Good luck! As a very happy customer (wardrobe review) I’m glad you have made the leap and hope that you find success and balance in your new career.

    Like

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