When I started this blog while still living in my home country, I had been through quite a tough year career wise and I felt totally drained. I knew that I had got all of the lessons I was ever going to out of the path I’d been following since I graduated.
My career had taught me some really valuable things and I most definitely had grown but I started to feel like I was shrinking and no longer expanding. I had learnt about managing other people, carefully balancing the needs of your staff with those of your boss and your customers,. I’d learnt about delegation, time management, responsibility, business and about some of the politics that go on in large companies. Over the years I had grown in to a professional, but I knew deep down that I was a professional on the wrong path.
Being made redundant, to me, felt like instant ecstasy. I know that a lot of people struggle with redundancy and I can understand why, it is a big deal. But to me it felt like finally I was free. Having somehow evolved from being a daydreamer into someone with a ridiculously strong work ethic, who found it hard let go. And, being a naturally indecisive person who had literally considered hundreds of different career options from being a beautician, to a nurse, to opening a flower shop or even a chocolate shop. The thing that had been lacking was a sense of certainty or clarity about which new direction to follow and also a lack of courage for ever handing in my notice. I had grown comfortable with my monthly salary and didn’t know how I would survive without it so I chose never to to have to find out and instead worked my butt off!
Then, one day I received the push that I had been waiting (subconsciously) for. My boss was being strangely distant and then the director asked me to come into her office. ‘Oh Shit’ I thought. This does not look good, what have I forgotten, what have I done wrong? With HR sitting in the corner, I heard the magic words came out of the directors mouth, in 4 months time my spa was closing down and I would be unemployed. The rest of the day was spent in the pub with a fellow manager who had just learnt she had the same fate as me, as she panicked and pulled the situation to pieces, I sat drinking wine and feeling wonderful.
I spent the next 4 months wrapping things up in the spa, coaching staff who were going through various anxieties about what they were going to do next. And although I also went through my own freak outs, mainly directed at my fiance as cried hysterically that I had worked so hard for so many years and it had all been for nothing (I later found out this wasn’t true but at the time it felt like it was).
But, despite my initial feeling of exhilaration and joy about finally being ‘free‘, It still took me another round of working in an unfulfilling job before I finally get the message. I was contacted by a recruitment agency and offered a job in ‘nearby’ (Ha! Not when your a commuter by train!!!) Cardiff. My days turned into 12 -14 hour long marathons of catching trains in the cold and dark. Managing a team of women who really didn’t want me there and a boss who had zero time for me but expected results without question.
It was at this point that I FINALLY figured it out… I hated being a retail manager. I didn’t like being the boss and the fact that no matter how friendly you got with people, there was always that barrier of employer/employee. I hated doing rotas and I hated the fact that no matter how much money customers spent, it was never enough in the eyes of head office. Capitalism at the expense of social responsibility was something that just didn’t fit with me and who I am.
I came home every single day feeling drained and exhausted, I was too tired to exercise, socialise or even keep up with house work. I spent my days off (always when everyone else was at work) lying in my bed watching films on my own. Just doing the dishes was an exhausting ordeal, I honestly don’t know how my fiance put up with me. He definitely carried me through those final few months of commuting to Cardiff everyday.
Once the penny had finally dropped and I realised that the life I was living was no longer serving me, and that it was instead sucking the life out of me. Rob and I talked things through and we decided we wanted a radical change. We enrolled on a course to become English teachers abroad. And we set in place plans to realise a dream we had both had for so long, to get out there and explore the world. Our first stop would be India.
The next 3-4 months were incredibly hectic. Packing up our lives, organising visas, money, our belongings and telling all of our friends and family that very soon we would be saying goodbye for quite some time. But its true what they say, the hardest part is making the decision to go, after that things start taking care of themselves as the ball begins to roll.
Once we were out of the UK, I did have a few wobbles thinking “Oh Shit!!!” we’ve sold our car, left our flat, our jobs, our friends and family… and we are in a crazy country where we don’t know anyone! But gradually that same feeling I had felt when the director told me that I was being made redundant came back to me. But this time a more steady, certain and permanent happiness rather than just a flash of possibility.
I had managed to recreate my existence and had left behind the life that felt like it had been killing my soul just a few weeks previously. I was off on a new adventure and I was going to try new things, meet new people and spend my days doing things that I enjoyed. 4 months on I can honestly say that the feeling is still with me. Its like a glow in my tummy, as though my whole body is smiling… at last I AM FREE!!! : )