For the past seven years I have solidly dedicated my life to my career. A job. You know, the thing that pays the bills and the occasional pair of shoes. That is what I chose. For the past two years I upped the ante and left Bali where I was a contractor working from my idyllic villa in order to ‘pursue a more fulfilling career’ and ‘gain further international experience’ and of course, the classic ‘boost my CV’.
I packed up my weathered beach clothes into one suitcase and headed to Melbourne with about £200 (that I borrowed from family) and my will. I landed a job within a couple of weeks (when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Thanks Paolo). But Jesus, the anxiety that came with that. Going from a beach bum with salty hair and sandy feet to a corporate PR girl working in one of the biggest integrated advertising agencies in the country, is no easy feat I tell you. I couldn’t even afford work clothes so maxi dresses that had seen better days became a staple (bearing in mind this was in September in Melbourne, it’s not hot!) I bought a thick scarf to keep me warm and thankfully had a relatively sturdy denim jacket; everyone else was in their winter woollies but what did that matter? I had a steady job that paid my extortionate rent (open plan villa with a pool to a box room with no heating or AC). This was my life. I was working with two major clients; the biggest telecommunication company in Australia and also the largest employment portal worldwide. My job essentially was to create positive media for these MASSIVE companies with billions of dollars of turnover and I felt like I’d made it back then. Bigger the clients, the better your CV looks you see.
Following that 6 month contract I went on to work in publicity, working with celebs – how glam right? Not. I left there after a few months unable to stand the egos of not so much my clients but the owner of the agency.
Finally, I landed my ‘dream job’ at the best PR agency in the country, if not the whole of APAC (had the awards to prove it). This was it, I really had made it, I felt strong and confident and very capable, the people were incredible to work with and by this point I had even managed to buy some appropriate attire. I basically fit right it and thrived. I was promoted within a couple of months and before long I was earning $80k plus bonus. From £200 to my name to almost $5000 per month within a year… actually that is an incredible achievement now I look at it. Remember to celebrate your achievements readers…it’s not arrogant, you have earned it.
My 5* apartment had enviable views of the Yarra River, I had an en-suite bathroom with a freestanding bath and waterfall shower, I even bought a Nutribullet to make my morning cleanse juices and post-gym protein shakes – I was that girl. Or was I?
Something happened at my dream job that shook me to my core very recently, I was accused by a deranged colleague of something that simply wasn’t true yet the HR system completely failed me which led to me leaving the company on something called ‘garden leave’. I haven’t taken up gardening. No, what I did was head back to Bali, a place where I really do feel at home to reflect on these heartbreaking series of events and reconnect with my loved ones who still reside there, people who know and understand me and love me for who I am and would never want to hurt me.
I was only supposed to be there 10 days but because of the immense stress and distress I became sick so the first week was spent lying in bed crying and running back and forth to the loo. I extended my trip and spent another three weeks trying to heal both physically and mentally. Allowing the sun to clear up my haggard skin, stretching my limbs in the swimming pool, practising yoga to calm my mind, even just being on a scooter again felt so liberating and piece by piece I started to feel myself again. I started to feel happy.
The most alarming discovery after my dream job literally sent me to hell was that it made me question whether a high flying career in PR is worth it. I mean, seriously, is getting people in the paper and begging ‘influencers’ to post about a product or service really self-actualisation? The conclusion, for me is nope. Everything I have worked for now seems pretty worthless. And strangely, I am OK with that.
My time reflecting in Bali has made me realise that although a fast-paced career working for the most awarded agency in Australia with the biggest brands around is not something that makes me feel good about myself, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. There’s me working away to make rich people even richer but what do I get out of it (aside from money)? And what about the other people? Those who are struggling to cope with life’s complexities, how am I helping them? Sure, I had a couple of pro bono/not-for-profit clients which provided some relief but the core work I did was to influence consumers into buying more shit, shit they really, really didn’t need.
So what now? What do you do when you realise you need to drastically change things up and do a job that has a purpose and gives your life meaning? (Oh and by the way I am still very single because of course this ‘amazing’ career came first, always.) Well, I tell you what you don’t do; you do not lie in bed and feel sorry for yourself eating pizza and drinking wine… okay well maybe just for a day or two, but then it’s time to get productive.
I will tell you what I did, I made a list, a list of things I value, of goals yet to be realised, of old dreams like writing a kids book, I asked myself the very question I had been ignoring for two years; why the hell was I in Melbourne when my friends are back in the UK getting married and having babies and I a MISSING it all? And when I mean I asked it, I mean actually asked myself, out loud (think I scared a couple of geckos in the process). The answer was that in truth I felt a sense of loyalty to the people who had taken me under their wings in Melbourne, including my amazing but now former boss. Once I admitted that, I realised that now that my job was over that loyalty was kind of void and the friends I have made will always be friends, we just won’t be living in the same country and true friends will support you no matter what anyway.
Things slowly started to make more sense, it was time to go home, this was the universes way of pushing me out of a toxic environment that was making me sick (genuinely haven’t been to the doctors as much as I have these past two years), and pushing me back home to a place of unconditional love and happiness.
Now of course, getting all them feels is all fine and dandy but what the fuck happens next? I am obviously not going to go on the dole yet the majority of jobs that I am qualified for in the UK are the same as the ones here; making consumers buy shit they don’t need. And honestly, the book idea is more of a pipe dream (at the moment). So, I consulted my list and picked the one thing that has been there for at least five years; yoga teacher training. And you may think that this is a total cliché but I don’t particularly care, yoga and especially meditation is the one constant in my life that I always turn to for clarity and peace and of course, a challenge.
So ladies and gents, I have bitten the bullet and signed up for a month long 200 hours teacher training course in Greece. Whilst there, I will be learning the fundamentals of yoga which of course is the postures, breathing techniques, how to teach a great class etc. etc. but the essence of the course and what is truly at the heart of a yogic lifestyle is the act of selflessness and serving others for good (not for profit). I think this could be a life changing experience for me. I will also be learning Thai massage which could open even more doors. I am basically heading back to school but to study something I absolutely love! And I am so excited and in equal measure, absolutely bricking it.
I have always known that money doesn’t motivate me but I chased that dream anyway and was on the wrong path. I don’t need a fancy apartment and designer things, I need to help people. If after the yoga course I decide that isn’t for me then I will look to use my communications skills for good, find work at a charity or implement an amazing internal comms process somewhere that promotes health and wellbeing, where you don’t feel guilty for being 10 minutes late for work or taking a sick day. I have options people and so do you, you always have options no matter how helpless life may seem, always remember that.
If you no longer love your job or if something has happened that has thrown you off your horse and you don’t know how to get back on then I recommend taking some time out to pursue something you love. Don’t put that pursuit at the bottom of your list of priorities, have it at the top! Even if it’s a side hustle, be creative, make things, take pictures, upholster old furniture, whatever it is just make sure it is YOU and almost immediately you will feel lighter and more yourself than you have done in years.
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
Wish me luck…