Why I left My Job To Become An Artist

On 16 August, I left my charity job as an Organisational Development Adviser  and since then I have been an artist. I wanted to share with you my reasons why I have left my job, as although I have been very honest in my weekly newsletter and made reference to it on Instagram about how I needed to quit the corporate world for the benefit of my mental health, I wanted to explain to you, my supporters, in a little more depth my reasons. I want to encourage you not to put up with situations that make you unwell, that make you feel like the world is a negative place, devoid of beauty and wonder because life is special and wonderful, so change something about your situation if you can to make your life a bit closer to what you want it to be.

 

Back in 2014, I took the first job that was offered to me, in order to get out of a job at a paint and wallpaper company, that job was at a charity. The wallpaper company was on paper a good job for me (no pun intended!), the pay wasn’t awful and I could use the languages that I spent 5 years at university studying. However, the environment there was so controlling and depressing that I just couldn’t stay. Looking back I wish I had simply quit that job, but I waited until I got another job. The charity job was not ideal for me but I decided to take it as a way to get into the organisation and to find another role internally.

 

This did not pan out as expected, I got stuck in that job for about a year and a half, which felt like an eternity. I worked for two terrible managers who did the best they could to hold me back, bully me and put me down. I found ways around the unsupportive cruel managers. I took on additional projects and paved the way for a more inclusive culture at the organisation by setting up the first Women’s Network group for employees and volunteers across the UK and ROI. I also joined the Inclusion and Diversity Leadership team and continued to volunteer my time externally at Humanist Students as the Secretary of the organisation and then as the Chair of the Board. I worked my ass off to get out of a terrible situation, and finally I got another job after applying for roughly 9 internal jobs (I had at least 5 interviews).

 

By the time I was finally promoted, I was exhausted, my confidence eroded and my health was an absolute mess. After a few months into my new job, all the pain and exhaustion caught up with me. My absolutely wonderful new manager encouraged me to take time off and I took about two weeks to recharge, get better and get counselling. After that I started to cut back on all those extra things that I had done to get myself out of my previous horrendous job, and started to use my spare time to create things and rest. Not too long into my second job at the charity, with my fabulous team and manager, “my dream job” came up in Organisational Development managing the employee survey and I reluctantly went for the role. Jobs in that area were very rare and even though it was a temporary role, I knew I had to go for it and see where it took me. Turns out it took me nowhere.

 

At first I wasn’t sure about whether the role suited me but as time went on, I got really good at it. I was brilliant at making connections with people and explaining the survey data in a way that people would engage with it instead of getting defensive. I got really good at that job and I loved it. I made it clear to my manager on the Organisational Development team that I loved the job and I wanted to stay on. Despite all the hard work I put into the job, and despite how I was BRILLIANT at it, my manager made little attempt to try and keep me. Instead, my manager bent over backwards to get the person I was covering for on sabbatical to come back. The person I was covering for wanted to do a job share, which I was open to, but the idea I had for how the job share could work well, was rejected for no good valid reason, so there was no place for me there. I was deeply hurt and disappointed. I had done so much at that charity by setting up a Women’s Network, helping to establish the Disability Network and many other things, that I thought my hard work would mean something, that I wouldn’t be discarded. But no. I found myself feeling physically sick with anxiety as my contract end date loomed. I honestly felt broken. I felt like I wasted my energy on an organisation that did not care about me and for people who were happy to take my skills at the time but unwilling to look after me.

 

With the end date of my job approaching, I decided to take control of the situation and hand in my notice.  Since I left that organisation I have been taking a holiday and have been quietly recovering at home and at my mums. When I handed in my notice I decided that I would take this as an opportunity to be a freelance artist and try out all the ideas that I have but just haven’t had the time to do. This is my way of making the best out of a very sad and terrible situation (leaving a job I liked and paid well), and instead I will take some well needed time out to do what I enjoy. I have always been a creative person and have thought about being an artist since I was in secondary school, but I never really thought that I could seriously do it as a career, which is why I studied languages at university and not art. I have always put “being an artist” to the back of my mind as some unachievable dream, a dream that only really special lucky people get to live. But why should it be like this? Why can’t I do what I want to do too? I can’t accept that anymore. I also can’t accept that 30/40 hours of my week should be spent working for someone who doesn’t really care about me or values all the skills that I have. I would prefer to work for myself and create for others who value my work.

 

I suppose something really positive has come out of all the negativity I have experienced, I have realised that I don’t want to be sitting here in another 30 years time contemplating how art has been a part of my life but I never tried to make it a big part of my life. I don’t want to be telling the people around me that I am working as X for X but actually, what I really want to do is be an artist. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to be regretful and resentful about organisations that didn’t care about me or value me, instead I want to be proud of going for what I wanted, no matter the outcome.

 

So if you have got this far, I sign off this post as an artist. I am an artist who loves to create things that bring happiness to the world. I am an artist who wants to leave a legacy of beauty. I am an artist who is tired of living a life of negativity. I am an artist who wants to break free from the past me and to live a more authentic life. I am an artist and I can’t wait to see what happens next

12 Comments

  1. Tonje

    I love the fact that you didn’t spend another 10, 20, 30 years in a corporate job before you decided to go for it! I’m really looking forward to seeing what directions you take your business and creativity in 🙂

    1. Thank you Tonje 🙂 I am rather excited too, now that I have got over the OMG I HAVE NO PAYCHECK feelings.
      I totally have to try this now, as I don’t have anything to lose, I don’t even have a pet that relies on me lol! That corporate world was destroying me a bit inside and I just couldn’t put up with that anymore.

      Glad to have you beside me on this journey – you inspire me a lot with your patterns and what you do with knitting 🙂

  2. McG

    Just to say, the work you did for inclusion and diversity and setting up a women’s network was amazing. I’m just sorry I wasn’t there long enough to really engage.
    And I’m heartened to hear that I wasn’t the only one who was brutally worked over by the internal recruitment system and the whims of bizzare management decisions!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 really appreciate you saying that! You totally did the right thing leaving when you did and moving up North, it only got more bizarre! There are so many people who feel overworked too but that place has a weird way of making people think that it is OK and that they should overwork for the cause.

      So glad you read my post – means a lot to me xxx

Leave a Reply