Breaking the mould on?work

2014-12-04 13:45

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Being funemployed has turned out to be one of the most liberating experiences for Claire Mawisa

I recently quit my job. It had a great title, paid reasonably well and involved work I’m very passionate about. It came with the added benefits that responsible adults are looking for, so why on earth, in this economy, did I decide to quit?!

Being 36 years old and a single parent who is supporting my family, deciding to leave my job was an obvious risk, something not everyone can afford to do.

But with proper preparation, risks can become more calculated. To stay in a routine that was no longer working for me was the greater risk.

I would wake up every day, get stuck in traffic, arrive at work, attend the meetings, do the presentation, stay late brainstorming creative solutions for clients and get back home after sunset, usually too tired to prepare supper.

Like most of us who go through this routine, the quiet voice inside me would ask: “Surely, there must be more to life than this?” That whisper slowly became louder and more difficult to ignore.

Having a permanent job and a regular income is always understood and translated as having security in life.

That sense of “security” one feels with a regular job can turn into a heavy, suffocating blanket that eventually covers you. Is it unrealistic to expect to find total fulfilment in just one job? I don’t think it’s unnatural, but I do think it is rare and, sadly, it’s for the blessed few.

I really don’t like playing the race or gender card, but I soon found that being a young, black, female manager in a diverse working environment meant that my integrity was regularly questioned in a good and not-so-good way.

This started to affect me negatively and I started doubting myself to the point of analysis paralysis.

I remember the day I found out I had the job and how excited I was. The vision the company had for me was the same one I had for myself.

After the company had invested in my training and development, I felt extremely guilty when composing my letter of resignation a few years later. Had I gone back on my word? Was I betraying the company? The answer to both was no. I needed to forgive myself for wanting to be more and do more with my life. Once you understand that, it doesn’t matter how much value you bring to an organisation. It can and probably will survive without you. The focus needs to shift to what works for you.

In short, I felt like I was a plant that had outgrown its pot and needed to be transferred into the ground. No blame could be assigned to anyone in this situation.

When I have felt this way before in the past, I have taken the great leap into uncertainty. Not because I was always brave enough to do it, but circumstances sometimes dictated there was no other choice for me.

Being in a comfort zone can lull you into a state where you’re awake, but don’t feel alive.

Going through the motions, suppressing your true feelings and not trusting your capabilities to follow your own path can keep you stuck in a rut for years. I felt I was starting to relive the same week and month over and over. Can you really call that a life?

We all have different priorities and interests. For many people, a routine is exactly what they want and need. I guess there’s no universal solution to what makes you feel you are living your best life and are putting all of yourself into it.

At some point, we all know the necessary risk that needs to be taken to achieve a certain level of fulfilment.

In this part of my journey, I have realised that even when I knew what I needed to do, it did not automatically guarantee support from those around me.

I wasn’t expecting any, so I wasn’t disappointed. Any encouragement received was unexpected and cherished.

Some decisions in your life can only be understood by you and not receiving empathy, acceptance and support from loved ones should not be misunderstood as their lack of love for you. Instead, it is their sincere desire to see you succeed and to protect you from failure that might be the reason they’re apprehensive. Be as understanding of them as much as you want to be understood.

I tell people I’m funemployed. This leaves them a bit confused, so let me explain. Being funemployed is when no one expects me to be at an office from 8am to 5pm weekdays. It means I do not have a boss. It does not mean I do not have an income or that I do not do freelance work. I am a business owner. Funemployment is being unemployed, but doing it on your own terms.

The questions I face daily are: So where are you now? What is happening? Who are you working with? What’s the plan?

To most of these questions, I do not have a rehearsed answer that everyone will understand as I am also trying to understand this phase myself.

My passions haven’t changed. I am still very interested in radio and TV, and I feel my purpose lies in working with and equipping young women with life skills. I have no clue how all of that will play out in the future and I have surrendered that outcome to the universe.

Breaking the mould and chasing your dream isn’t easy. Most of us put on a brave face and step out in faith even though we’re feeling the fear inside.

Always know that no one is absolutely fearless, some just hide it better than others. Chances are that if you feel like you were meant for something greater, then you’re probably right. Trust that feeling.

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