In darkness there is light

How one destructive email forced me to make positive change

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Sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar

It was a Friday morning in January that was the catalyst. I read an email from a client, my heart thumping so loud in its cage I thought it would make a break for freedom.

It was the moment I had been waiting for. For this client to tell me I wasn’t good enough. And there she was, doing just that, in one short, destructive email.

Blinking back tears, I moved in a trance to stand outside on the street, surrounded by people and feeling entirely alone.

My biggest fear had become a reality. She had seen right through me and exposed the truth for all of them to see. The fear of this exposure was worse than the exposure itself.

And just like that, it hit me. How completely and utterly miserable I was. How totally unsuited I was for the job I had been doing for the last four years. How much this job was affecting me; chipping away at everything good about me.

In that moment, two thoughts came to me, one after another.

First, that was ok. It didn’t matter that I was on the wrong career path; that didn’t make me a failure. I had tried it and persevered with it even when I had my doubts. And now I had a definitive conclusion. I couldn’t cope with the relentless long hours, the volume of work, the expectations and responsibilities. And that was ok.

Second, I had a choice. I had a choice to stay in a job which I was wrong for, to haul myself out of bed every Monday and think “five days to go”, to carry a grey cloud over me, to feel anxious, drained and scared.

I had a choice to lie awake staring at the ceiling in the early hours, spend days panicking about seeing clients that intimidated the shit out of me, have heart palpitations sitting at my desk, dismiss my friendships and destroy my own health. To feel suffocated and on the brink of collapse. Of faking it until I made it.

There was another option. The option of pursuit. To make a positive, proactive change. To not settle for living in complete misery. To strive for more meaning in my work and to be the person I used to be who had got lost along the way.

I simply needed to find something I was better suited to. Which I would care about, be interested in, engaged in, more fulfilled by. This was my responsibility, my job and my life to live.

The following Monday I quit my job.

That email was the catalyst for seeing the light and changing my life. I owe that client a thank you. 

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