This week has been a real eye opener for me. I handed in my notice to one of my freelance jobs a couple of weeks ago and this has been Week 1 of freedom. For those of you that know me, you’ll know I worked in a copy-writing job (very well paid, very dull) straight out of my BA, and have been doing so for nearly three years. What was initially an exciting opportunity (being paid to write!!) eventually became the root to my unease and discomfort with my ‘London life’. This week, I’ve realised how important it is to be surrounded by inspiring people, and to invest your time in a role that is worthy of it.
Working for a client primarily focused on MAKING MONEY was something I cared little for, coming out of an arts degree that fostered freedom of creativity. I would sit through meetings listening to worn-out PRs discussing the importance of social media in ‘increasing footfall and revenue’ and inwardly sigh at the futility of it all. To top it off, my chauvinistic line manager would rarely be in the office, if he ever was, he would barely ever utter a ‘hello’ and not once in three years did he praise anything I did or thank me for my contribution. The account manager that edited my work would amend it, adding grammatical and spelling errors instead of erasing them – she thinks ‘dining’ is spelled ‘dinning’. Seriously.
It became blindingly obvious that I was doing the right thing by leaving, when I handed in my notice. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: Erm, (let’s call him Mr C for Chauvinist) Mr C, do you have a spare minute for a quick meeting?
Mr C: No
Me: Ok I just need to tell you I’m leaving
Mr C: When?
Me: In two weeks
Mr C: Shit, we’ll have to replace you then
Three years and that’s the response I get when I tell him I’m leaving. It was somewhat of an anti-climax. I at least expected him to ask what I’d be doing when I left, what I was going on to do. Nothing. I should have known better. My other job for the past year has been working as an editor on Pigeons & Peacocks magazine and he’s never so much as muttered a word about it. I was obviously going to lack enthusiasm for a job in which my manager clearly doesn’t care. I’ve never seen him arrive for a meeting on time, and he usually takes afternoons off to play golf - hardly the most inspirational of people to learn from.
As a result of this attitude, I would turn up late (sometimes an hour or two – no one would even notice) and often go for long lunches, or leave early. My friends and parents would consistently emphasise how easy I had it, and I did, but that’s no reason to stay in a job, not for me anyway. I want to be inspired and tested. In terms of my professional life, I want to be challenged. While working in this role part-time for three years, I have completed a Masters degree, launched GUISE magazine, worked on organising the Costume in Action event with the V&A, worked on two issues of Pigeons & Peacocks as editor and production managed two short films. Without those side projects, I would have left long before three years.
I’m now off travelling for a couple of months, and will be writing a travel blog and updating Pigeons & Peacocks and GUISE while I’m away. Everyone seems to want to know what I’m going to do when I get back. My answer is I really don’t know. I’m still unsure of which direction my career is heading in. All I know is that I certainly don’t want to work purely to make money – for me or for anyone else. I want to create, I want to inspire and in turn to be inspired. If that means struggling for a while, I would prefer that. Anything to sitting at a desk refreshing my Facebook home page for hours on end.