2014 is over. It was a year of changes, choices, risks, mistakes, happiness, tragedy, love and revelations. I feel older and wiser thanks to 2014. Finally I feel I am where I should be. But 2014 has also been a bitch. It has given, but it has also taken away. So despite all of the steps forward I have taken over the past year, I will be happy to leave 2014 behind.
When the changes really started to happen. I quit my job as a Solicitor to pursue something more ‘satisfying’. The law firm I worked for had offered me a secondment in one of their clients, an enormous company which, had I wanted to be a lawyer for the rest of my working life, would have provided invaluable experience. But I was petrified. I didn’t want to do it. Doing it would expose me as the fraud I felt like. I couldn’t cut it as a lawyer and soon everyone would know. That’s how insecure I felt in my job. I left it about 10 days before I responded to the offer. Telling my boss I was turning down the secondment because I was resigning was absolutely terrifying. Ironically it was also the day I received a tribunal judgement for a case which I had argued, and won, for the same client that offered me a secondment. At least I was leaving with a 100% advocacy record.
After I had made my decision everyone kept telling me I was so brave. I wondered if I was just stupid. It turns out I was both. You know that little voice in your head? Listen to it. It’s usually right. And so is my mother, but then I always knew that.
When I was fuelled by optimism and enthusiasm. I was setting up a new legal division at a recruitment company in Cardiff, despite no recruitment experience. I thought the legal experience would see me through. It did, to a point. But I discovered after a while that ‘recruitment’ is just another word for ‘sales’. And I’m no salesperson. When you have psychological issues with the phone, you know recruitment / sales is not your calling. No pun intended. But I persevered. I had made a huge change and I needed to stick at it. It would get easier. I would get better. Right?
When the cracks started to show. There have been many instances in my life where I felt I haven’t really belonged. Like I was an outsider. I’m a friendly soul but I can be socially awkward, and I have been told on more than one occasion that I can come across as cold. It isn’t intentional, it’s just me. I’m very blunt and straight-forward, and some people don’t like that. Anyhow, the recruitment company I worked for was a world away from what I was used to. The people were nice, welcoming, fun. But I knew I didn’t fit in. They were all good at their jobs, so committed and resilient. They didn’t take things personally. I was nervous to make a cold call and if I didn’t get the right results I felt like shit. All I wanted to do was send emails. I was comfortable there, where I could consider my words and construct elegant sentences. I have always loved to write. But sending emails in a recruitment company was not the done thing. My boss told me my emails were written so well he could frame them, but that as a recruiter I needed to refrain from typing and pick up the dreaded phone. This was a slow-burning lightbulb moment, if such a thing exists. Maybe an energy saving lightbulb which takes ages to light up properly. Should I do something with words? Not legal technical words, but creative words?
My cousin also got married in March which was lovely. She looked beautiful. I’ve not been to many weddings so it’s still a bit of a novelty. She’s my age (26) which is a little strange. I’m not bothered about when I get married, I just really hope my grandmothers are alive to see it.
When the cracks turned to holes. I knew things were not right. They were really rather wrong. But what could I do? I had made my bed, I was supposed to lie in it. But I only tossed and turned. I was beyond miserable. I was scared of going to work because of what I would have to do and how much I knew I hated it. I wondered what had happened to the enthusiasm and the positive attitude. I was failing at something that others found easy. Granted, it was a process driven job and I bore easily. But I was still failing. I was astonished at the treatment I received. Rejection is one thing, but being spoken to with a lack of respect and being hung up on for simply doing my job is another.
When I resigned. After a wonderful birthday weekend in Barcelona courtesy of Olly, I realised recruitment was not for me. My boss realised that too. Although I had set some really good foundations for the division, it was not something I had passion for. I had no other job lined up. Going back to law was not an option. My parents told me categorically I couldn’t quit a job without having another one to go to. ‘You have a mortgage to pay’, they said. Well, I ignored them and handed in my resignation. My boss was not surprised. He told me to find something I loved. The question was, what? I had a week of garden leave. I needed to find out. It took me a couple of days to admit to my parents what I had done. And I didn’t even have the balls to call them. I sent an email. Classic me.
Quite by chance, my parents had booked a cottage in Exeter for a week. I joined them to try and figure things out. Fresh air, countryside, time with the dogs. Perfect. During this time, I arranged to go for a drink with a contact I had made a couple of years previous. He was the Director of an advertising company. When I was back from Exeter we met and I explained my circumstances, expecting nothing but hoping for something. Some advice. A work placement perhaps. A few days later the unbelievable happened. He offered me a permanent job.
When I discovered the world of advertising. Starting at the agency was a revelation. Not least because I could go to work in jeans. Jeans! Already it was more me. The people were, and still are, great. I seemed to fit in. I was actually enjoying going to work each day. Immediately I started a large copywriting project for the Welsh Government. That’s a pretty big deal. I felt like I had got really lucky. It was a right place right time situation. Or was it fate? Could I actually have found something I both loved and was good at contemporaneously?
When my whole world fell apart. The month started so well. Olly and I spent a beautiful week exploring the island of Sardinia and my new job was still the best decision I had ever made. And then the worst possible thing imaginable happened. MH17. It took the lives of my witty, wonderful Uncle Andrew, beautiful, intelligent Aunt Estella, and two little cousins, Jasper (14) and Friso (12) who had their whole lives ahead of them and were excited to live them. It’s impossible to put into words how this unexpected tragedy of global magnitude affected me and my family. And it will continue to do so forever. The loss was so enormous. And so unnecessary. I’ve been through every emotion. Disbelief, despair, anger, sorrow.
When we were sure that they had all boarded the plane, and so were never coming back, I went home for a week. It was splashed all over the news and I became PR handler for the family. We were hounded by the media. A journalist from The Times had tracked down our house and was knocking on our door for a story before it had even been announced on the news that Andrew was one of the 10 Britons who died. When we refused and shut the door in her face she sat in her car which was parked round the corner, wrote a letter explaining that it would be better to give the true story rather than have something printed which was inaccurate, and posted it though the door. Again we ignored it. My mum and sister then went out in the car and she tailed them. It was a disgrace. She was one of many. Eventually we decided it would be best to release a statement and a photo of the family and leave it at that. Seeing it all play out on the television was heartbreaking. I bought all of the newspapers the following day, their faces splashed across them. I wondered why I did it to myself.
One positive which came from the month was that I started this blog. It gave me something to focus on.
When I tried to live normally again. Olly was my rock. It was a low place to be and I felt guilty for smiling or laughing. We attended the remembrance service of my family which was overwhelming. And to make things worse my beloved dog Hollie passed away. She was our first dog and was 12 years young. I busied myself with work and blogging. The blog was supposed to be all about good things. Things that made me smile. Positively. Happiness. I wanted to prove that you could find some light in darkness. I baked a little, tried something crafty, went wake boarding. The idea was to make more of life and to ensure that life was a content one.
For the bank holiday we went away to Pembrey with my sister and her boyfriend and played endless games of Articulate.
I genuinely can’t remember anything noteworthy about September.
When I tried new things. At the start of the month Olly’s parents took us to Malta for a week. Sunshine and sea. It was so good to escape. We did three scuba dives which were incredible. When home, in my pursuit of contentment I decided to push myself out of the comfort zone. To discover my inner crafter I started a pottery class at Cardiff School of Art and Design. A very therapeutic activity. I now have the finished results and I must say I impressed myself. All family members got pots for Christmas. I also joined the local circus, as you do. My aerial skills improved but still leave a lot to be desired. I found my discipline though (I think) in the flying trapeze which I will be continuing in 2015.
When I felt like I found my stride. Work was becoming more comfortable in the sense of having a clue what I was talking about. I even bagged my first client. A pretty impressive one. I sort of shrugged it off though but work seemed chuffed, told me I was being too modest, and bought me gourmet pastries which included egg custard tarts. Winning.
When I had some quality family time. Work was really busy. I had a lot of responsibility and quite a lot of authority too. I officially passed my probation which was super news. I know this is where I should be for now and I am so relieved to have realised that. Having said that, when Christmas break came – almost two weeks off! – I was bouncing up and down. Spending quality time with the people closest to me in spirit but not always in distance was a joy. Early morning frosty walks with mum and dad (and Benji the dog obviously), lots of tasty food, more games of Articulate, catching up with my old-school girlfriends, necking vino. Olly and I spent New Year round a camp fire at the top of my gran’s garden with a load of her neighbours drinking mulled cider and eating sausages. Amazing.
Now it is 2015 and I am back to work tomorrow. I’m not dreading it, but I am dreading the alarm. I haven’t really set resolutions, but I want to make it a good year. Put it this way: I don’t want to be in exactly the same place as I am now this time next year. I want to push more boundaries, keep trying new things, see new places, be better at my job, continue sustaining a great relationship, keep old friends and make new ones. And lots of other things.
I can never forget 2014 – 17 July will forever be part of me – but I’m ready for 2015 to bring it on.