Two years into my old job, I wrote the following words in my diary.
It’s been so long since I did anything of any purpose in the world. I fucking hate myself, hate what I’ve become. A shell. A shell with no principles.
I can understand why people turn to religion. When I was religious, even though I didn’t believe the cuntwallop they spouted, I had a reason to act in a way befitting to a good religious girl. Quite what that reason was, I’m not sure I could say.
Belief. So much of what we do depends on belief. I’m heading for the gate in the field because I don’t believe I can jump the fence. But is that the only reason why I couldn’t? As a kid, I tried all sorts of things, believing I could do them. And I rarely, if ever, failed.
Now look at me. The confident girl, full of belief, of faith – her own and others’ – has switched these for things which do not come naturally to her. She has become Me, and that is someone I definitely do not like.
I sometimes wonder if my creative days are over; if the flame of inspiration has finally burned out. I was nearly there when I lived in my first flat in London. Or nearly on the way there. And then along came a job, and marriage, and now look at me. In some ways I’d rather still be working in the shoe shop; in a place much further down the career ladder, where I didn’t ultimately give a shit about my job, but where I could be myself at the end of each day. And during the day, where I could be someone totally different from myself.
I feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life, and I want to make them up: I want to re-become.
That sounds like quite a wake-up call, right? It’s obvious from just reading that, let alone actually feeling it, that I desperately wanted to quit a few things in my life, starting with my job, and be truer to myself.
And yet it took me another three years to do so.
Because quitting isn’t actually that straightforward. There’s all this baggage that goes along with it.
Not only do you have to quit, you tell yourself, but you have to work out what you’re going to do with your life once the quitting has happened. We’re told repeatedly, from a very young age, that planning is a Good Thing. A life plan, a financial plan, savings accounts, a 401(k) (whatever the fuck that is).
Sometimes, the urge to quit comes from a place of knowing that what you’re doing now just isn’t right for you.
But you don’t know what would be right, and so you carry on with the thing you’re doing, telling yourself that you’ll quit when you’re ready – when you’ve worked out what it is you want to do.
Except that life doesn’t work like that, does it?
It doesn’t come in neat little packages. You won’t find what you’ve been looking for by staying in the same place, doing the same thing you hate that takes up all your time and mental energy, day after day.
You’ll find what you’re looking for by trying to, really hard.
And quite often that trying comes in the leap. The leap you make from something to nothing. Sometimes you have to just throw yourself out there, throw yourself on the mercy of the universe and say “This is it! I have nothing left! I’ve quit it all and I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”
And only by being that bold, by standing on the edge of nothingness and yelling into the void, can you finally start to hear your own voice echoing back, and telling you whatever it is it’s been trying to tell you all along.
So, like I’ve said before, that little niggling doubt you have? Listen to it. Don’t end up losing yourself. Don’t let yourself get to a stage where you realise you’re living a life anathema to what you believe in.
Instead, quit. While you’re ahead, while you’re behind, while you have no fucking clue where you are. It doesn’t matter. Just get out of your chair, sign your piece of paper, go outside, and yell into that void.
Who knows? You might just grow to love the voice that yells back.