*Written in May 2016, Sydney
Everything starts with a conversation. Disruption can be caused with a few choice words. These words can stick with you for life. These words can influence some of the biggest choices you will ever make.
Make Or Break moments happen more often than you realise. Especially in your career. The ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision can lead into losing time down a path you regret taking. Or you can end up in worlds you never thought you were worthy of.
My first Big Break came in 2009. I was back home in Pembrokeshire, going to the supermarket in the car, with my (then) boyfriend. Everything was normal – until my phone rang.
I remember the call like I just took it. A female voice asked how I was and I replied ”I’m really good thank you, the weather isn’t great but I am good”. ”The weather’s a bit better here – you’ll have to get used to that” she replied. I took in a sharp breath as I clicked to what she was saying. She laughed ”You’re going to need to move to London, you got the job!” …
That was the first time I had ever been so gripped by opportunity. That feeling, felt 7 years ago, is as clear as day to me right now as it was in that moment. I’ll never forget it. I had goosebumps, tingles, all the feels that pass over you in moments of euphoria.
Tears were prickling in my eyes as we parked up, I was overcome with joy. I jumped out of the car and looked across the roof at him.
The blank eyes that bore back at me were not the ones I expected to see. ”You’re guna move to London and go off with someone else”.
His first words were about him. In this moment, my partner of two years should have shared in my happiness, but no. He didn’t even attempt to make the cut. Where was the support and encouragement I know I would have lavished on him had he been in my shoes?.
That was one nail in the coffin of our relationship. I remember a fleeting feeling of disappointment as I searched his face for at least a hint of smile. I didn’t find it. His reaction baffled me. How could that be his first thought? How.
I couldn’t believe what just happened. I would be moving to London to work for LOOK magazine, the UK’s biggest selling weekly. LOOK. The.UK’s.BIGGEST.SELLING.WEEKLY. This wasn’t just ‘a new job’. This was going to change my life.
And yet a cloud, momentarily, hungover what lay ahead.
But I ignored it. And I ignored him. Because thats what I do. I subconsciously knew that nothing would dampen this fire in my belly. This was just the start.
I turned my back on the car. And on him too. I called my mum to share the news. I wasn’t prepared to let the high slip through my fingers. It was everything I had ever dreamed of at that point in my life.
Sure, I ”moved to London” alright and I did so with delight. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, to transfer my small-time town life in Wales to one of the most powerful cities in our world. My relationship, somehow, went on for another 3 years afterwards. It shouldn’t have, but that is something to write about another time.
I’m not here to ex-bash, he is not a bad person. But, in light of what happened, I’m here to focus on the damage that others can potentially do to your entire future. If you listen to words that should never have been spoken your world could collapse around you.
I didn’t realise it at the time, as I was hurtling through my 20’s, just how much impact my move to LOOK magazine would have on the rest of my life. You almost just don’t think about anything when you’re doing what you wanna do. You’re in a job you love and you really do just love it. Every day is fun, engaging, keeps you interested and on your toes. You don’t have time to think about other things outside work.
Before you know it you’re moving onto new horizons. In terms of your career, your friendships and your love life. As anyone in their 30’s and beyond can testify, your 20’s go so bloody fast. As you get older you begin to take stock of what you’ve achieved and what road blocks you’ve passed on route to get where you are.
You come to measure your life in milestones. Your career choices are the umbrella to your everything. Your respect from your family, your time outs with your friends, your general health and well being. So much rests on your happiness in your workplace.
For your happiness to expand, your passion must be there.
Your work can take you anywhere. My jobs didn’t take me traveling but they pushed me to go. As my last contract in London was up, it felt natural to go away and seek new opportunities abroad while I was both young enough and educated enough to make something of myself in new countries.
London had given and taught me so much. It was my time to see what I could offer to the wider world and, in turn, see what the world had to give to me.
Of all the friends and former colleagues I’ve encountered over the years the ones high-flying now are those who followed their dreams. The secret to their achievements lies in their passion for what they do. Whether that be working for leading brands or running their own businesses for niche markets. When doubts creep in it’s crucial to keep one eye on your bigger picture. Passion talks. Money follows.
My point is, if you are doing what you love, you are half way there. Maybe you don’t see the ‘end’ or have a ‘big goal’ in sight but if you truly appreciate what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis you are where you are meant to be already. Keep learning every day and keep your mind sharp. If you love what you do there’s no reason for you not to be doing it for the rest of your life.
Throughout our lives we are lucky enough to have options but that doesn’t always come without a fight. It doesn’t always come with the support you hope for either.
I have always followed my heart and done what I wanted. I’ve let people down, upset people, lost people along the way but at the end of the day sometimes you just have to remain fully focused on what you want to do.
If you don’t it can end up eating you from the inside out, believe me. I nearly stayed in London when I went home in November. But as the need to keep exploring gripped me again, I had to leave and now here I am, writing from Bondi Beach.
Anyone that cares about your progression (whether that be in a professional manner, or that of a loved one) will always support you, no matter what.
Those that hold you back will soon be left so far behind. But you learn something from everyone who doesn’t push you forward. You learn to be resilient and you learn how you will treat others when the tables are turned. Chase your dreams and when it comes to it, push others to chase theirs too.
Managers are certainly not the people you expect to hold you back. But you are bound to encounter bouts of negativity as you carve your path. I can recount a few times where I have looked to managers for support and they have held me back in an attempt to make themselves appear better to a wider audience. But this is rare – if anything it only serves to remind you of who you don’t want to be as you step up the ladder.
Friends of mine have done exceptionally well and there have been times when nuggets of jealously have floated in the air between us. But as we got older it became healthy competition. It is always good to see your friends doing well because it shows you what you can be capable of too. It makes your goals seem more achievable when you know ‘normal people like you’ are taking their careers exactly where they want to go.
Family may sometimes hold you back but more often than not it’s a worry about losing you in the long run. You could say the same for relationships but I consider them completely different kettles of fish. Your partner should support you fully and, if anything, want to come wherever your decisions make take you.
In order to expand your life, to make your life better for you and for those around you, you have to be brave. Take chances, fail, make a fool of yourself more than once.
More and more we see people taking stock of what the world can offer them. We think more deeply and things we see (in reality and through our screens) are becoming centred on making the most of the short life we have.
People we admire, celebrities, athletes, leaders, our friends, our peers, are often great at what they do because they are doing what they truly love.
There is a method in this magic.
It’s all about listening to yourself. If you pursue what you are passionate about how wrong can you go? So you might not make loads of money but the funds will come. And in the meantime you’re busy weaving life you will look back on and be extremely proud of.
I could have easily shied away from the unknown in London. I could have bottled it and stayed at home with him. I could have settled into a local job that was never going to satisfy my ambition … for the sake of a boy and his wishes to keep me to himself. The relationship that was already (quite obviously) going down the pan could have negatively shaped my whole life.
At the end of the day life needs to very often be about your first choice. Your clear thoughts, your feelings that you felt before anyone else knew what you were considering.
The moments of ‘YES!’ are the ones you need to go for. Not the ones that are overshadowed by others. That conversation in the carpark obviously cut me, because here I am, writing about it 7 years later. The shock of knowing that someone you care about is willing to sabotage your dreams for the sake their selfishness isn’t something sits well with me. And it shouldn’t with you.
Remember to run, run fast, with what makes you get up in the morning because you want to. Not what gets you up because you have to. Life will always be about what we make it. A passionate life is a treasured life.