The Opportunity in Front of You
I remember heading to work each day, tears in my eyes, dreading heading into the office to work with toxic people. In winter in particular it would be dark as I got onto the train early in the morning, and then dark again in the evening when I finally got back home. It was insanely depressing. The local cafe sold an incredible pumpkin soup and to be honest, my day’s happiness depended entirely on whether or not they had made that soup or not.
I wondered how I could keep doing this if this was what work felt like. How would I ever cope if this was meant to be my life? They said they would have better projects for me soon, but soon never arrived. I was so bored I could feel my brain cells dying by the minute.
I was told I needed to schedule in my toilet breaks to coincide with any photocopying or faxing that needed to be done because both the machines and the toilets were so far away from the reception desk.
I was yelled at daily by people who were angry that the rental listings were nothing like what the advertisement made them out to be and people had travelled into the city for the keys.
Many meltdowns and one significant snot-cry later I was given a choice – quit or be fired. They’d do me the favour of choosing so it wouldn’t impact my centrelink options if I needed them. Thanks for that…
I’d never done anything they could fire me for now that I look back. They just didn’t have the care or willingness to provide a workplace that would energise and encourage the person working in admin and reception. I’m guessing they have gone through many staff members since then.
What I didn’t know then was that employment and scheduled toilet breaks were not in my future. My future was meant to be empowering, flexible, creative, caring and passionate.
I was always meant to be self employed.
I had other jobs after that and they were a definite improvement but I never did feel like I could reach my true potential in any of them. Office politics just wasn’t my thing and I wanted to be able to run with any good idea I had whenever I had it!
Fast forward to starting my own business as a Virtual Assistant.To be honest I had no idea what I was doing. And that’s a great place to start really because I can still remember that uncertainty and consistent state of ‘winging it’ which means I can totally relate to anyone starting out.
We may be good with computers, or an organisational genius, or a design master – but when it comes to creating a business in which to sell those skills – we don’t really learn how to do that when we are employed or at school.
Suddenly the buck stops with you. And there really is only one buck to go around. Your budget is non-existent, your network imaginary and your systems – well – what the hell are they?
But those are small hurdles when you are determined to make your own choices each day. When you are determined to earn money because of what you put in, not simply because someone else has set a rate. When you want to create something that is uniquely yours. When you want to go to the toilet because you want to go to the damn toilet.
If you have the passion to create something new. If you’re sick of providing skills to a boss who doesn’t appreciate it, maybe working for yourself is a good way forward. My mental health (and physical health as a consequence) was battered when I had that job. I’ve never felt so undervalued as I did then, since I started working for myself 16 years ago.
It won’t be easy – but neither is working somewhere you don’t love. The opportunities are out there – will you grab them?