Until about three or four years ago, I’d always felt fulfilled by the intellectual and other challenges that my work roles offered and had never really seriously considered anything different. I had at one point in the earlier phases of my career actually embarked on a Law degree which I gave up after a year as I found it too difficult to juggle the competing demands of stressful work life with those of grueling academics pursuit. It was either that or the fact that I simply had not at that time,cultivated the discipline required to manage both pressures competently.Added to this was the fact that I was a single parent with a young son to raise at the time.
Anyway, aside from my once-upon-a-time attempt to change vocation to Law,I never again gave much thought to switching career other than if I ever did win the lottery win which was vain hope considering I don’t play! I had always felt that my freelance mode of working afforded me more than enough variety, challenge and mental stimulation to last me till grand motherhood and beyond.That was until about four years ago. Not sure what exactly was the trigger moment other than the fact that over a relatively short period of time I began to realize that I was becoming increasingly fed up! Not angry or sad but just fed up with work and the slavish allegiance to an imposed routine that for most part I had no control over. I had begun to feel a strong sense of discontentment with my often punishing work schedules and the total work-life imbalance this caused. This disquiet didn’t quite make sense since prior to this time, I’d always taken these things in their stride yet somewhere along the line,I began to feel stifled by the very work routine that for so long had been a source of career fulfillment.
Like many, I worked long hours,typically 8.30am to 6.30pm (often longer),five days a week. As I often had one punishing deadline or other to meet, I rarely took proper breaks other than to grab myself a quick snack before dashing back to slave away at my desk or for some meeting or workshop. Being so constantly deadline-driven, I literally would work until I dropped,as these never-ending deadlines loomed, which they frequently did. It was not unusual to be up until early hours and on quite a few occasions over the years, there were times when I even stayed back at the office until about near daylight just to meet a deadline. I frequently operated in workaholic mode but I must in some perverse way have enjoyed the adrenaline rush that this gave me because it wasn’t as if I got paid for putting in extra hours because my daily rate though usually lucrative,was fixed once I signed the contract to provide services to a client.
So what then changed? I don’t really know. Well not at the time anyway. Initially, I thought that my sudden aversion to earning my keep was a phase and that my enthusiasm would be restored but instead it got worse. My disquiet intensified and I grew increasingly discontented but still not quite sure why. I began to think perhaps it was some kind of a depression brought on by some furtive mid-life crisis! Depression wasn’t something I’d ever associated with my natural disposition which is for most part sunny, barring the odd occasion of fret. The fear that perhaps something like that could be happening to me made me more determined to snap out of whatever it was that was making me disconnected. I became even more determined to be ‘happy’ even if it depressed me in the process.(Read the continuation in – ‘Seeking Change’)