“I don’t have to be a management consultant.” Lessons from before I knew that.
Often when we look at other people’s escape stories, we think it looks easy – like all it took was one giant leap. But transitioning into more meaningful work is made up of lots of brave little steps, usually in the direction of the unknown. Lamia’s story shows you a glimpse of this bigger transition; she might not have all the answers yet, but she’s on the right path, and picking up speed.
I felt as though I was drifting in my job, with no real control.
I was a management consultant for one of the Big Four. I joined the firm as part of a graduate scheme, but 5 years on, I was still there.
I was unexcited and un-enthused by my work. I felt as though I could or should be doing something different, but was too tired and uninspired to think of anything else I could do. I used to want to work on helping the environment (I completed a BSc in Zoology and MSc in Sustainability), but by that point was feeling too disillusioned that I could do anything useful, and cynical that all jobs are boring, and the problem was me.
The prospect of a ‘career’ felt long and dreary. I was feeling far removed from any of the passions I had when I was younger and felt too frightened to do anything differently. I also had no idea what else I could do – no idea what else was out there. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t feel excited about anything, and I really didn’t want to disappoint my family members – I had what we all deemed ‘a good job’.
I can’t remember the exact moment, but I remember talking, deflated, to my friend about work and she mentioned Escape. I read the blogs online and it was so eye-opening to read the same things I was feeling from other people. I casually applied to attend the summer Tribe, but I was travelling a lot for work at the time and only put down a few days I was able to attend. I think my head wasn’t even in it; on some level, I didn’t believe it would help. My application was rejected because I couldn’t be available enough for the course, and I realised how sad that made me. That’s when it hit me hard that I needed to make a real choice about what was important to me, and finally take a chance on something. So I applied again, committed and considered, and this time I got accepted.
The process helped open up my narrative about myself. It helped me reconsider who I thought I was, or who I thought I should be (which I’m still working on). It brought back some excitement and curiosities, and a sense of hope and opportunity.
Being exposed to new people reshaped my worldview, and what I assumed to be true about success and personal fulfilment. Seeing people who started out like me but overcame their blockers to do something they love was inspirational. I began taking small steps, which gradually led to bigger ones – seeing myself and others complete ‘edge challenges’ in the course gave me the strength and bravery to ask for more at work, like asking to move down to a 4-day week, which I got!
6 months on…
Directly after the Tribe, I started a one-year career break from work, with the aim of exploring different curiosities. This was entirely inspired from Escape – I could never have given myself permission to take ‘time out’ prior to the Tribe.
6 months into my sabbatical and I’m doing a lot more with cartooning and various small projects; whether that’s creating my own research projects on topics that interest me, or volunteering with organisations I am interested in, like Sofar Sounds.
I was fortunate to have some savings but I do have to be careful how I spend my money now that I’m not ‘working for a salary’. I moved back in with family as well to help me save on rent, which I’m incredibly thankful for.
But despite the ‘no income’ or moving back in with family, or all the uncertainty and emotional ups and downs, I am feeling so much more comfortable about where I am today and who I am, compared to one year ago. I’ve learned to sit in the discomfort of the unknown and trust my gut. If I am drawn to something, I now give myself permission to follow it, without knowing where it will lead; accepting that it might not lead anywhere concrete, but that I will always gain something from it.
Most of all, I am excited about redefining myself to myself; letting me see a different side of me. I don’t have to be a management consultant. There are a plethora of opportunities for me out there and I can find the ones that excite me if I let myself.
If you’re curious about our Tribe programmes, click here to find out more.