It has been a while since I took a jump without forethought and planning. Almost all of my life has been calculated down to the finest T, every decision carefully crafted and designed for a desired outcome. I’ve never been an impulsive person, my OCD disallows careless action and I don’t usually do anything without hours of consideration.
Those of you who keep up with this page know that I have had a few medical issues recently; I was diagnosed with an Iliofemoral DVT (as well as clotting in my IVC and lungs) and before that, earlier on in 2017 I had a sub total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy for treatment of Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It has been an extremely trying year in terms of my health, at the ripe young age of 33 I feel like I have experienced a lifetime of medical concerns compounded by surgical menopause and my faltering mental health, the progressive worsening of my anxiety and the dark hole of depression that opened up, ready to swallow me into a point of no return.
So much medical jargon, boring I know. It sounds so very dramatic and admittedly like I am trying to baffle you with bullshit. I’m not. This is my reality, a few lifetimes of medical madness made manifest in the body of a weakened human being. I had lost a sense of who or what I was while trying to clamber to any semblance of hope for the future, all the while juggling being a mother, a wife, a friend and a career woman. Up until recently, I was solely focused on surviving, choosing a path of forced existence over choosing to live.
Since my teen years, I have had the same career all of my life. I studied Travel & Tourism at the school of Tourism at Damelin in Johannesburg, South Africa for which I received a diploma. Afterward, I walked into a reception position at my first employer, a corporate travel agency who took a chance on an 18 year old girl with but a piece of paper and an ill fitting skirt suit. I progressed quickly and climbed the ladder, promotion to promotion, which ultimately saw me leading and supervising a global, 24-man team, which operated 24/7. I have always been good at my job because I have always enjoyed it, I am good at what I do and had built up a great reputation in the travel industry in South Africa… until I cracked.
One day, I woke up and I just couldn’t anymore. I could not walk into a company (a well known global travel company) and make them a fortune at the expense of my sanity, the stress levels were immeasurable and night after night I would come home in tears, weighed down by the pressure of bringing in an income to help support my family. My husband and I sat down and talked it out and I made the decision to resign from my managerial position, I then moved to a smaller agency where the stress levels paled in comparison, my biggest gripe was wearing a uniform and not making enough commission.
It was shortly after this that I decided to make the move to the UK, a little over 3 years ago now. I was hired by my current employer – via Skype interview may I add – and no more than a week later I was on a plane to jolly old, ready to start a new adventure.
Since December 2015, I have been a full time business travel consultant working from home; most would say my job is ‘cushy’. I earn a decent wage; have the advantage of working at my home and therefore not being delayed by a commute and have a good idea of what I am doing after having done it for 16 years as a career. This is who I identified as, a travel consultant. Travel is in my blood, it is what I do, it is all I have ever known… but it doesn’t mean it is what I wanted.
Since I was a young girl, I would find myself writing. Anywhere, on anything I could find. Poetry. Songs. Stories. My solace was in my imagination and the magic wand was the nearest pen or pencil. I have never fancied myself as someone who could write very well (I have always been my worst critic) so I used to read… ALL… THE… TIME. Reading and writing, the earliest of education that is taught and the only things I cared for throughout my entire school career. There was a time, toward the end of high school, I considered going into a writing career but outside influences led me to believe that I would not make enough money to survive, I wouldn’t be good enough to make it in a ‘word eat word’ world. I chose a different path instead and every day I have regretted it since.
This year, after my harrowing diagnosis in October, I had a very frank discussion with the specialist who ultimately expressed his concern about the stressful nature of my job. Though you wouldn’t think it, what I do is definitely not for the faint hearted. I may work from home but from 08:30am in the morning until 18:00 in the evening; despite a lunch hour being imposed I seldom leave my desk. Call after call, email after email. It is a constant go, go, and go in a seated position – Not ideal for a DVT.
At the start of my situation, I was initially booked off work for two weeks however when I ended up back in the emergency room a second time and the doctors realized that my diagnosis was worse than originally thought, I was booked off work for a full four weeks longer. Shortly before my four weeks was up, I was back at the doctor and I was booked off for another four weeks with the possibility of extending further. With all of this time booked off ill and trying my best to recover, to be more mobile and to deal with the ongoing financial stress and not being able to work, I knew it was time to make a decision. I knew it was time to take a leap of faith…
I am so grateful for a lifelong career that has allowed me to raise a family, has eased financial strain and has taught me how to function in a corporate world. It has taken me this long to realise that my health MUST come first and it is about time that I act selfishly, that I forgo the luxuries and comfortable lifestyle I have become accustomed too in search of a new path, one that allows me to recover so that I can be the best person for my people that I can be. One that allows me to do what I love every day and with each passing moment, presents me with a new challenge to excitedly overcome. I have chosen a new path that will allow me to realise a lifelong dream, to do what I love and never work a day in my life.
A little over a week ago, I handed in my letter of resignation to a company that has stood by me for three out of sixteen years and it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Not only am I turning around and walking away from a fantastic employer, a steady and substantial income, a job that I know like the back of my hand and not to mention its stability. I am walking away from a lifetime of the travel industry in order to pursue a business that means more to me than all of the perks that being a career woman has afforded me. I have been so fortunate over the years, I have been able to travel the world throughout my career and I have met so many amazing people, been recognised with some of the best in the industry and have loved every minute of it but it is now time for a new chapter.
My initial priority is to get better; my health is first and foremost the most important thing for me to focus on. I have days where I wake up and it feels like I can take on the world, one hand tied behind my back. Other days, the pain is so intense that I can hardly make it from my bed to the sofa. This is my rollercoaster and it has become a theme park for which I have an annual pass, I am learning to accept its twists and turns. Thereafter, my next priority will be to put myself out there in the New Year as a content writer and influencer, my blog remaining one of my primary focuses. Moonsomnia is imperative to my success, it is the platform that allows my vulnerability and versatility and it is a showcase of who I am and all that I encompass; a visual and textual representation of who I am now and who I look forward to becoming in the future.
Since handing in my resignation, a weight has truly been lifted. A renewed sense of hope has flooded the hole of darkness and I have something exciting to focus my attention toward, other than my incessant ailments and frustrating setbacks. The stress and anxiety, though not altogether gone, have been lulled into hibernation for the winter of my recovery. The financial strain brought upon my family as a direct result of my decision is one that escapes me however I am ambitious and I will not give up. I will do what I need to do (within reason and legality) to ensure we don’t have to compromise too much in order for me to live my truth.
The future is unknown. Have I made the right decision? I will never be able to tell. The only certainty is uncertainty itself and that petrifies me, it also does something to me that not many things have been able to do recently in my career, it excites me.
I am excited for 2018; bring on a new year and a renewed sense of purpose. ‘Until you spread your wings you will have no idea how far you can fly’.