Hello. It’s been a little while since I wrote here, or anywhere really, but I’ve had something brewing for a while. Something which I didn’t know if I could (or would) share but I can’t seem to shake off a feeling telling me to write, and hey, who am I to deny that part. So, if you’re ready… Continue reading It’s ok, to not be ok.
// Edited version originally published on Iris Lillian 30 November 2016 //
Living the dream, kind of
It’s mid-2014 and I’m an ambitious career-driven thirty-something marketer with a good job in finance. The truth? I’m utterly miserable. Underneath the mask is the reality that I feel increasingly stuck in a career which neither lights me up nor inspires me to climb any kind of ladder. I feel like I’m going through the motions of life. I’m completely disillusioned by the corporate world and I’m wondering what the hell is wrong with me. The mask is starting to slip.
On the outside looking in, I’m living the dream. But, on the inside looking out – through a thick heavy confused fog – things aren’t pretty. I’m lost.
The well-trodden path
Multiple industries and job titles in a ten year marketing career and it never felt enough. Constantly searching for the salary, the recognition, the appreciation, the job title that surely one day would make me feel fulfilled; ‘this one, I’m sure this one is it, it’ll be great, I’ll love it, just you wait and see’. Nope. That feeling I was searching for never came. Instead, a feeling I couldn’t shake; there must be more to life. Surely? Please!
But, it’s too late…isn’t it?
But, who changes careers in their thirties? For as long as I could remember I’d wanted to run my own business, but what could I possibly do? Who was I to think I could run a business? So, I convinced myself that I was happy enough. I was good at my job, I was rewarded financially for it and I always loved the people I worked with. Surely that’s enough, right? And hey, I’m sure everyone hates their job, sometimes?
Yet every so often, as though trying to get my attention, life would have me stumble across someone who loved their job. Someone whose eyes sparkled with a passion that was undeniable. My soul yearned for what they had. When people asked me what I did, I cringed a little. Who wants to hear about a boring job in marketing. And that innocent question from your friends when you catch up? “How’s work?” (Oh god, please don’t make me to talk about work, it’s so boring… and shit…and same old. Answer: “Oh fine, what about you?” – deflection, bam!)
But like it or not, I was a marketer. The path had been chosen. What else would I do? I’d moved to the other side of the world solo. How could I possibly afford to restudy (even if I knew what it was I wanted to do?) How could I start back at the beginning and survive on a salary less than what I was on? At least I have a job…and it pays well…blah blah blah. Your mind might be creating different questions or ‘facts’, but it’s pretty good at arguing the case for safety, isn’t it? The fear is and was very real. But do you know what else was very real? The feeling of utter discontent, matched with a feeling that if I continued doing what I was doing it would not end well. I disguised it well, but I was stressed out, unhappy and my self-worth was rock bottom. Sunday night blues were at an all time high, as were my recurring migraines. Something had to give.
The “Ah-Ha” moment
Around the same time. I moved into a new apartment. My first place to call home in Sydney. Finally, I could own things again (my own bed! a teapot! cushions!). And while a sofa might not exactly seem like an item to aspire to owning, for me, it was important to create a space which felt like home. I was a home bird. So create a home I did and friends were rather complimentary about the result. Enter a question, asked by several people:
“Hey, you’re pretty good at this,
have you ever thought about Interior Design?”
Lightbulb moment. Yes!
If I could turn back time
If I had my time again choosing my university degree, I would have chosen either Graphic Design or Interior Design. Art was always my favourite subject at school and as a child I was forever giving my childhood bedroom a makeover, I just loved making spaces pretty. I loved making things. But, at that impressionable time when you’re deciding what you’ll ‘do’ in life, I sort of allowed myself to get side tracked by what others expected of me and what my peers were doing. Law, Medicine, Economics. And so, Business Studies (and later, Marketing) was as close to creative as I would allow myself to get without feeling like I was taking the easy option and doing something “arty”.
Making it happen
Back to 2014 and the seed had been planted. I looked into restudying. Geez, It was really expensive. Back under the carpet that idea went. But a month or two later (after a particularly trying day at work which involved tears) I found myself googling design schools again. There was an open day the next day at Sydney Design School. A sign! I took a taxi from work on my lunch break and for the first time in a long time, when the Director of the school spoke about the school and the course, I felt like a part of me was waking up. YES! Hell yes! Where do I sign?
6 months later I graduated. I had a qualification in Interior Decoration & Design and there was no way was I going back to my corporate job. I resigned. With a shit load of debt and no savings to my name, there and then, I just made a choice. And while some people cheered me on, others questioned my sanity and why I was throwing my career away
“Um, are you sure this isn’t just a hobby?”
Deep inside, without doubt though, I knew this was the start of something which would change my life.
F**k it. I’m doing this”
My new life
And change my life it has. We’re nearing the end of 2016 and I’m officially a business owner. I’m an Interior Decorator and Stylist and that sparkle in the eyes I admired in others? It’s now my reality. I love what I do. I love talking about it. It doesn’t even feel like work. My life, and the wayI live it, has changed immeasurably. For one, I’m writing this from Bali where I’m spending the month because well my boss is kinda cool and she said it was ok. Seriously though, this journey unleashed this creative side that I forgot existed. I started writing. I started to feel like I knew who I was. I remembered that life is for playing.
It’s not all rainbows & unicorns
And here I must acknowledge that the challenges along the way have been immense and plentiful. But to name three biggies:-
- Feeling like a fraud – Was I really an Interior Designer? Could I really charge people for this new found skill of mine? Of course the answer to both was yes but this was a big step to get over in those early days. When someone asked me what I did, they’d get my whole life story, as if trying to validate my choices. But with each new client it got easier. And like any job, it takes a little time to build confidence.
- Money, Money, Money – ‘If your doing a job just for money there’s a good chance you’re in the wrong job’. We’ve all heard it. But we’re all also conditioned to believe money comes from a job. It pays the bills. And while that’s good. It’s not good enough. But money was and continues to be a major fear for me throughout this process. But honestly, I’ve less money than I’ve ever had. More debt than I’ve ever had, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. A new found richness.
– Asking for help (and being able to accept it) – People actually love to help and once I accepted that I started asking for help where help was needed. And it came in really cool forms that I couldn’t have imagined. You don’t need to do it all alone. Allow others to share with you and be open to possibilities.
I’ve been stretched more than ever before but every stretch has taught me something about myself. And I’ve always come out the other side, knowing more about Laura or business or both.
Just do it
I want this story to give you hope. If you feel the way I felt, I want you to know that what was possible for me it is entirely possibly for you. Find the courage that I know you have. I know it’s scary, I was scared. But do you know what’s scarier? Another 30 years feeling suppressed and unheard and miserable.
Life on the other side
And I can also tell you that on the other side of that fear is something truly magical. The doors which have opened for me this last year, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met, every single bit of it has been worth it. I’ve never once regretted my decision. Not once.
Maybe it’s not logical, maybe it doesn’t make financial sense, maybe people will tell you that you’re crazy but screw that. Get out of your head and into your heart and let it lead. It knows the way.
“Surrender to what you love & let it guide you.”
Please do not do the world the disservice of not sharing your gift with us. And please don’t do yourself the disservice of not following your dreams.
And, I promise,
(*it always is)
When the urge to write comes over me, it’s totally non-negotiable, I simply must write. And that very urge struck again this week, so here I am writing another blog post on a blog I’d thought had maybe had its last entry; existing online only as a moment-in-time. A small part of my online footprint collecting virtual dust, being revisited occasional by me, and only me. Or, existing only until I forget to renew the domain name and it disappears into the t’internet black hole for ever and ever… But, perhaps it’s not quite ready to start collecting dust just yet. Continue reading Face Everything And Rise…
We probably don’t need the assistance of my old friend Urban Dictionary on this one. It’s something we all know about and it’s something we can all relate to I’m sure. I’m pretty sure during any duration of exam leave at Uni I became a pro-procrastinator. Gosh, that’s not easy to say. Pro-procrastinator. Try it. Told you! Seriously though, remember study days? It was amazing the things you could find to do, other than study, on study leave. The kitchen was never cleaner. I watched the same episode of neighbours twice, on the same day, just to be sure I didn’t miss anything critical. God knows what the kids do these days without a CD collection to Alphabetise! “A is for Ace of Base…
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Back to Sydney and another week, another blog post. I wonder… does a second post mean I can officially call myself a blogger? I’ve definitely been rocking the Mac in a cafe look, all like ‘check out me out with my mac in a cafe’ no, wait… more like ‘check out me on my mac, in a hipster cafe, at 2pm in the afternoon, writing my blog post, drinking a hazelnut almond milk chai latte’ Boom. I’m in. Bloggers rejoice.
Someone asked me this week how I was enjoying ”funemployment” – which, if we revert back to my old friend Urban Dictionary – the font of all knowledge – is defined as “a happy time in one’s life when one is not employed and is not wanting to be employed”. But, that’s not me. That’s not really where I’m at. I DO want to be employed, very much so in fact. But, what I want, is to be Fun-Employed. Fun ‘Self-Employed’ if we’re being precise. I want to love what I do. It’s as simple as that. I want to wake up in the morning and be inspired to create something fabulous that truly lights me up inside. And the good news? That feeling is 100% achievable. Just this week (in response to blog#1) I’ve had friends confirm that they love what they do. One even commented that my first post had made her even more grateful for doing what she does. Was I green with envy? Not at all. On the contrary, if someone has found their calling – and there are many of them who have – that’s brilliant. Enjoy it. Live it. Own it.
Today marks many firsts for me…
1) First up, I write this from Byron Bay, in a rather lovely leafy spot not far from the beach. Last night, after I’d dropped my bags, I sat on the rocks at said beach and watched the sunset while eating Byron’s ‘best fish & chips’. This morning I took a walk along the same beach, from one end to the other and it was bliss, even in the rain. This trip, while not my first visit to Byron, does mark my first ever solo holiday. Yep, you heard right, not a Contiki bus in sight.
2) It’s also the first time I’ve not known where my next guaranteed income is coming from because on Friday I said adios corporate world and after the first ever solo holiday I’m off to follow my dreams…but, more on that later.
3) Finally, to this post. My first ever blog post. Notably also written on my first ever MacBook. Which means there’s also a good chance it will also be the longest-time-ever-spend-typing-a-blog-post as I’ve no idea what I’m doing and I keep using shortcuts for windows and then deleting stuff by mistake! However, practice makes perfect so I’ll persevere (Gahd, I spelt persevere wrong and spent the last 5 minutes trying to figure out double click to fix up the spelling). You will however note, I was victorious. WIN. Continue reading Feel the fear and do it anyway.