This is a blog post I wrote eight months ago when I was about to take voluntary redundancy from the BBC – it was a frightening and thrilling time. I wanted to share it because I’m about to write another post reflecting on how my year has gone – much of which has been rather wonderful.
Scaring Other People With Your Dreams
I expect to be nervous and scared – I’m leaving my full time job of ten years to embark on an unknown career, that’s a pretty brave thing. But as I’ve learnt recently, it’s not just me with the jitters that in two weeks time I will no longer be an employee of the BBC.
My boyfriend Jamie has been an absolute rock and a huge source of encouragement over the last six months while I’ve mapped out my plans for post redundancy life. So when in the last week he started asking me a number of unsettling questions about how I would cope with the shock and lack of structure when I leave – I was both surprised and grumpy. Jamie’s been one hundred percent part of the process of me thinking through how to carve out an exciting new career and also how to manage the loss of the stability and support network of the BBC. Doesn’t he trust me now?
Fortunately, with a bit of reflection I started to realise that Jamie feels in the dark and nervous about what is going to happen next with my career, my routine and just me generally. I personally feel very confident – but admittedly it is a somewhat loose plan of getting out there and seeing what opportunities crop up.
However this is a more considered approach than it sounds. In the last year I’ve networked my way across the vibrant and friendly Manchester business scene and with a redundancy package behind me, I decided that the smartest plan is to hold my nerve and find out where the interesting niches and opportunities lie when I leave. I’m proud of this approach – it’s ballsy and likely to be a fun and fruitful path. It’s intuitive and allows me to work out what I want to do and perhaps more importantly figure out who I want to work with. And there has in fact been a great deal of preparation with this ‘relaxed’ approach. I know I could get depressed, lonely and disheartened when I don’t have the firm structure of a 9-5. I also won’t be getting the strokes and praise I’m used to getting in my current job. Will I feel lost and undervalued when I’m floating about in this freelance abyss? No, I don’t think I will. I know I’ll have good days and bad days, I’m sure of that and I’m confident I can handle it.
I’ve had two examples of massive upheaval in my life in the last five years: I relocated from London to Manchester with my job in 2011 and two years ago I split up with my then husband and got divorced. Two potentially stressful and destabilising experiences and in both cases I thrived. I would say I got the ‘training’ to manage stressful situations when my life derailed several times in my teens and twenties:
- At eighteen I got lonely and depressed when I went to university. I saw it through, but I found my time at Liverpool John Moores extremely difficult.
- My mum died of lung cancer when I was twenty three – she’d been dying for three and a half years.
- My return to London from a year’s travelling when I was twenty seven saw me descend into catastrophic debt and have a massive identity crisis when I compared myself to my now seemingly successful friends.
Eventually, and this has taken me such a long time, I’m now grateful for what those experiences have taught me. I’ve learnt that even when I’m dreaming big, to be gritty and realistic about how bad things can go and to put safety measures in place.
So, I have reassured my boyfriend that despite my optimism and dreaminess of approach with my ‘make it up as you go along’ career plan, that there is substance, structure, pragmatism and a shed load of back up plans in place. I know what I’m doing and in being forensically prepared for the very worst I think I’ll achieve the very best.