Your gut isn't always right.
It's me (Mich) again!
I know I wrote the column last Thursday, and that the natural order of things is for Zara to take the reins this week, but today is a *special* day and so this is a *special* column.
Why, you ask (but also not really because I'm the one calling the shots here and you are merely a powerless reader)? So glad you asked! On this day last year, I walked away from my full-time job with absolutely nothing lined up.
It was scary. Terrifying. Even though I had quit six weeks before, my tummy felt like it was twisted into knots; like I'd just made the biggest mistake of my career. Like I'd do and give anything to rewind the clock and stay in a job that wasn't perfect for me, but was comfy enough, familiar enough, safe enough.
That's the biggest lesson I took from leaving full-time employment to dive into an abyss of pyjama-clad freelancing: my gut was wrong. You see, on the day I quit my job, on every day I worked during my notice period, and on the day I left, my gut was telling me to stay.
It was telling me the wrong thing. Why? Because it was full of fear.
I'm typically a big believer in listening to your gut; after all, it's the very thing that pushed Zara and I to begin Shameless even after it had been rejected. It's what has compelled us to send lofty, borderline-ridiculous emails out of the blue in the hope that they'll crack open a door, or nudge open a window. It's what made us think, 'a podcast with Bumble would be great, right?'.
My gut has served me well in big moments, but in others it's also held me back; especially when imposter syndrome and self-doubt have come knocking on the door.
If I had listened to my gut in May to July 2018, I'd probably still be in a job that was draining my happiness and stunting my progress. Despite my gut telling me to stick with what I knew, the reality was I was in a rut. I was comfortable - not content - and the fearful part of myself was yearning for what I knew over what was best for me.
The problem with being in a rut is that you mightn't realise you're in one for a really long time. It'll be the people around you - the people who love you - who see the warning signs first. They'll notice you're a little flat, a little less bubbly and vibrant. They'll note it when your face falls after they mention work. They'll register that you're tired, even when you've just woken up from an eight-hour sleep. Sometimes they'll collect all the crumbs you've dropped along the way and stumble upon the obvious conclusion months before you do.
Being in a work rut is like living out a perpetual loop of lazy Sundays watching Netflix and ordering Uber Eats. You are comfortable. You are free from worry. You know the contours of your routine like your body knows the cushions on your second-hand couch. But then your Pad Thai goes a little cold and Netflix asks "are you still watching" and a restlessness takes over that you wasted another perfectly good day, again, while everyone you like is outside in the real world actually living.
When it came to my job, just about everyone in my orbit knew that I needed to turn off the TV and put on my runners before I worked up the courage to. It was a Thursday afternoon, and while my gut was telling me "no, no, no" as I punched in my manager's phone number, my family and friends were practically screaming "yes, yes, yes". They knew I could do it - they trusted that I'd make it work - when I was plagued with doubt and countless 'what ifs'. For every concern I threw in their direction, they looked me in the eye, batted it right back to me, and insisted I'd be fine - that I'd be more than fine.
It turns out, they were right. My gut was wrong.
Being self-employed is really difficult; the pressure is high, the hours are gruelling, and there's a pretty far way to fall. But it's also bloody rewarding. For all the lows, there are some pretty lofty highs. I've grown and matured so much that I'm not sure I'd recognise that 24-year-old who thought she was completely incapable of working for herself.
So, why the rambling essay and tedious anecdotes? I guess I want you to look outside yourself when there's a life-changing decision to be made. Look to the people you trust - the ones who know you and love you. Do they think you can do it? Do they think you'll nail it? Do they trust everything will be OK?
If your answers are yes, then maybe you should trust them over yourself.
As women, we tend to be less confident in our capabilities. We tend to only apply for the jobs we're 100% qualified for, while men put their hats in the ring if they're 80% of the way there. Sometimes, I wonder if blindly trusting our guts means we're actually blindly trusting our fears - and blindly holding ourselves back from what life has to offer.
I'm glad my family and friends pushed me off the deep end when I was digging my heels into the ground. If they didn't, I would never have realised that I can swim.