When I left university I went to work in marketing in a fun buzzing agency in central London. I loved it, exciting work, great people, long hours followed by fun evenings in the pub. As I rose up the career ladder, I moved to smaller agencies, took on more responsibility and less pub trips, but still loved it. I took 6 months off when my first son was born, and another 6 when my second son was born.
Soon I found I was seriously juggling, rushing into work when the childminder arrived, rushing home to relieve her when her time was up. Watching the clock tick by in the last meeting of the day thinking “if I leave now I can get home for tea time” or “if I leave now I can get home for bath time” it all became stressful and I felt as though I wasn’t doing my job very well or being a very good mother. My husband had a good job, so I quit and started as a full time mum. It was only going to be temporary, just until they were in school. Then my daughter came along and then we moved out of London and the options for going back to the career I loved slowly disappeared.
Never mind I thought, Ill find something else to do that I can work around the kids.
I started making beautiful wooden trays with peoples wedding invitations and photos in and then the cost of making them became too much for what I could charge for them. I trained as a personal trainer, then did a diploma in nutrition, then worked in retail, then trained as a florist and did that for a couple of years, and nothing ever felt quite enough to fill the hole left by my ‘career’, by what I had chosen to do with my life.
My Mum says that in her day, women for the most part knew that they would work until they had children and then that would be that, they enjoyed working, but it was just a means to an end. She didnt feel as though motherhood had taken something away from her, that she had lost something.
For many women, their career they began with was and often still is, part of their identity. I was a women who could juggle several different projects at a time, carry a mass of information around in my head at all times, survive on caffeine and little sleep. I was the multi tasking guru, there was nothing I felt I couldn’t do. And by giving up that career, I feel as if I lost a bit of that person.
It’s no wonder that there are millions of women out there starting new careers, searching for fulfilment, but its hard, sometimes, you have to try a number of different things until something sticks. The most important thing is that you have to have a genuine interest and passion for whatever it is. Don’t necessarily try and mould something around what you used to do. You are a very different person to the woman you were 20 or 30 years ago, you think differently, you feel differently and your mind will almost certainly work differently.
In a not altogether healthy sense at times, I have always been fascinated by diet, fitness and nutrition so I am retraining in that. If nothing comes of it as a career, at least I will have learnt something that will benefit me in the future and maybe if my confidence grows and this becomes a business I will get back some of the empowerment that I think having a career gave me.