After the safety and security of school, and the “rules” I followed and hoops I jumped through, I hit a big scary wall aged 18 that didn’t look like anything in particular but sounded a lot like this:
This life thing had been pretty straightforward up till now. Now sh*t was getting serious. I had to decided the path I wanted to take and apparently stick to for the rest of my life. (So I thought).
I mean, how could I possibly know? I had not been out in the world at all, with the exception of some tutoring and tennis camp coaching I had done in the holidays (and that’s only ‘cos my mum pushed me to do those things). I was interested in and curious about a lot of things. (3 of my 5 top Gallup Strengths are Input, Intellection and Learner #insatiablecuriosity)
I didn’t know where to start, but with the grammar school education I received, my “intelligence” and what was expected of me by others and myself, I figured I had to do an ‘impressive course’.
I struggled through university, where I felt like a fish-out-of-water and really struggled with looking after myself and finding “my people” there. I ended up dropping out after just a year, twice. Not one after the recession and with limited prestigious/lucrative options at my disposable, I chose the world of recruitment; it was the people-focused side and the earning potential that attracted me. The fact that I ended up on what they called their “graduate scheme” made me feel a bit better about not actually being a graduate.
I had to stick at something. Dropping out twice at university, I was lost and confused still, and that was without the concern of my parents that I was just floating around and would end up as a nobody. What followed was 5 years of hard work and long hours, exhausting myself each day and increasingly growing tired and overwhelmed and frustrated. (My [people/alone-time balance] was way off-kilter). Don’t get me wrong, there were things about the job I enjoyed – talking to people one-on-one, connecting with people, the satisfaction of putting them in a new, great job where they were being paid more for it.
But that wasn’t enough, even with the decent pay check I was earning by the end of it. I had known pretty early on that recruitment wasn’t “it” for me, but I stick at it which was probably good for me in the long run as sales gave me a lot of inner confidence which still translates is in professional (and personal) life to this day.
Alongside this, in my late teens I started reading self-help books, which then became psychology and career change and ‘find your passion’-type stuff. I was reading about all of these people transitioning careers to find more meaningful work to them and how, with the internet, this whole solopreneur/entrepreneur/freelance thing was more widely accessible.
I resigned from my job to study a year-long Masters in Positive Psychology and figure out what to do next. For about a year, I started building an alternative-to-university / gap-year programme called Thriva. It consumed my whole life and all of my thoughts and everything else and it became unhealthy.
I became obsessed with making it work, whilst all the time doubting myself and feeling that everyone – friends, family, social media connections – were aware that I had quit my job and were not keenly watching my every move to see what happened next and whether I would “make it” or fall flat on my face.
When the Masters ended and Thriva soon after that, I felt like I was back at square one again, with no direction or identity. I was exhausted, stressed, paranoid, isolated, the lot.
Nearly 4 years later, I am now working remotely for a small company. It gives me the opportunity to work on my creative/passion projects – with the time and energy to do so – whilst having a day job that gives me:
– Autonomy, freedom and flexibility to manage my time and energy (I’m a remote employee)
– A sense of community
– A sense of purpose
– Money in the bank
I am in a *much better* place with this set-up, and not spending 100% of my time working on a business and with the pressure of making it work and be profitable and successful.
I am now a big advocate of building something alongside a day job that fits you – i.e. making a more gradual transition. A day job that works for you or, dare I say it, is “good enough” for now at least.
Man I would have balked at those words 3 years ago if someone had given me that advice and I’d heard those words “good enough”. I’m a dreamer with high expectations who invariably sets the bar very high. I wouldn’t have believed this, and I would probably have needed to go out and learn from my own experiences.
This current set-up is the best thing for me. Having structure and routine in my life and being a part of something where I am not isolated, but also have the freedom to work remotely and how/where works for me. I wouldn’t change this set-up for the world, and I’d recommend it this way round, where possible.
Maybe one day I’ll be in a position where “my own thing” is “the thing”. But you know what, maybe it never will be. Maybe it never has to be.
My guess is that for 98% of us, having a day-job working for someone else is the most healthy thing, whether they’ have a side-project(s) or not. There is a day-job out there for everyone that can give us freedom, flexibility, creativity, autonomy, freedom to express ourselves, and of course money.
For me, all of the above are crucial. And that last thing, money. Having both money coming in and routine in my life in the form of a job are worth their weight in gold.
I reckon that 98% of us (introverts or otherwise) can find such a job where they feel satisfied and fulfilled and all those good things *in a day-job*. I would never had said or thought that 3 years ago.
I started blogging weekly on IntrovertJedi 3 months ago, and I always knew my audience was going to be introverts. I now know *exactly* who I want to serve and how.
Just 4 years ago, I was the unhappiest I’d ever been in a job. I had never really known what I wanted to do in life, and it all became too much.
Right now, I am the happiest I have ever been in my career, and in my life (naturally, the two overlap and interweave).
And, guess what? I am in a day-job. Yes, I have my creative projects on the side, but I am in a day-job and I would not have it any other way.
In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be sharing exactly how I went from a really sh*tty situation to an amazing one, how I went from dissatisfied (and even depressed at one point) to satisfied and even happy, and how I landed myself in a job that is ideal for me.
Friday, 25th January 2019 | this article first appeared on IntrovertJedi