"What do you do?"
A question I've dreaded hearing since I left college in 2008. I didn't stay on in education to go to university, I spent some time unemployed and made my first attempt at starting up a business, taught myself enough html to piece together a semi functioning website, learnt to DIY screen print shirts & made jewellery inspired by Nu Rave and 8-Bit.
Needless to say it died a death along with Nu Rave. I retired the neon & went on to do a series of different jobs, with the underlying pressure of that question always on my shoulders. I felt like I needed a conventional career to justify my worth. So that I could answer with something other than "Oh I just work in a shop", which there is nothing wrong with at all, yet I was measuring my worth based on other peoples opinions.
So a few years and a few retail sales jobs later I went back to college and studied Fashion Retail. I was interested in Buying and Styling but had seen a lot of jobs advertised for Visual Merchandising and it seemed like something more attainable and something that resembled a career.
Long story short, I worked hard, was in the right place at the right time and ended up in VM for the best part of 3 years. I finally felt like I could answer the dreaded question without judgement. It was a well paid job with job perks and most importantly, career progression. I felt like I was on track and had purpose, or at least I felt like other people would think I was.
I am eternally grateful for every opportunity and every beautiful person I met during my time in VM. I've made some friends for life, had some great experiences, learnt a lot of new skills and learnt even more about myself. But for everything I gained in that time, I lost part of myself. The long hours, erratic and unpredictable shifts along with other factors reduced me to a bit of a retail robot. I've always been creative and loved making things and doing things but there was a long time where I did nothing, I barely even saw my friends and family because I was always so tired and just wanted to get home, eat and sleep ready for the next day.
But I didn't do anything about it. Because I had a good job, well paid and stable with career progression. Countless teary nights later and I finally realised something had to give. Working is on the whole a necessity, but I had to stop and look at what was important. If your job isn't something you love it shouldn't monopolise your life (and probably shouldn't even if it IS something you love, but that's up to you!). I'm not condoning doing something half hearted or just walking out of a job without finding something else first. If someone is paying you for your time, be respectful enough to give them what you signed up for & sometimes you have to stick out something that's not right for you because you're a responsible adult and you have bills to pay. But there are a lot of different jobs and if one is not giving you the balance you need or allowing you the time to focus on the things in life that make you happy, then it's time to look for something else, regardless of how good that job may be on paper.
All this came just in time for Christmas. I know I have made the right decision and I'm thoroughly enjoying the new job and the time it has given me and even still, I did feel the pressure when that question once again came up. But this time I'm trying not to let other peoples perception and opinions define me and instead use my newly acquired time and energy to do the things that I'm excited to tell people about, when they ask me what I'm doing with my life.
Peace out. xo
Peace out. xo