I Quit My Job and Started My Own Business at 21
Taking the leap of faith, trusting your gut and a sweet look at the future ….
“Talking about my career feels like a bit of a joke. I haven't climbed my way up the corporate ladder or slaved away at minimum wage for years on end to build up to my ever so successful CEO job. Nope. I'm twenty-one, fresh out of uni and have just quit my first job after only 2 months. I was stuck floating around with the constant question of ‘what am I going to do?'. I like to think that I am just imagining a voice chanting the question over and over in my head but in reality, it's every family member, a friend of a friend and random elderly neighbour pinning me into a corner and quizzing my next career move.
So, why would I quit a secure, simple office job that provides free transport and adequate pay, during the consistent economic crisis of Great Britain? I would love to tell you that it was just one big badass F U to the world, but it wasn't.
For the last 7 years I have been filled with never-ending anxiety, which led to crippling depression, and completely took over my life. The waves of life crashed around me whilst I felt myself drown in my emotions. The difficult struggle of everyday life forced me to take care of myself; taking it that further than doing a face mask once a week. I've seen different counsellors and tried different medications; I do yoga and stay active as much as I can. I surrounded myself with positive people – online and in real life - and through all of this, I discovered my self-worth. For years I had my own – evil – jiminy cricket in my head, constantly telling me I wouldn't be OK. It was only through years of serious self-care that I was able to overcome these thoughts.
I know that my emotions and feelings matter and I am allowed to trust how I really feel. When I look back on those dark and confusing times I wonder how I ever got through it, but deep down I know that it was because I worked hard on myself and created a strong support network around me. I wish I could tell you to just quit your job or do whatever you feel you want to do but I did so much soul-searching, for years and years, before I valued my choices and you might have to do that as well.
?I struggle to pin the exact moment I knew it was time to quit. Was it the daily cry I would have in the loo on the hour, every hour? Or was it the time I went to the hospital with ~mystery chest pains ~ that turned out to be "all in my head"? Either way, the signs were there. The constant nothingness of the day left me feeling useless, bored and unproductive.
Each second that dragged past bought with it a destructive and negative thought about my life. My empty inbox laughed at how pointless my life was becoming, whilst the deserted in-tray mocked my ‘pointless degree'. I found myself feeling utterly hopeless and then I became ill. Constant migraines and paralysing chest pains ended with me in A&E. I had every test under the sun and discovered I was fine – perfectly well in fact. "You're simply depressed" the overworked, and probably slightly irritated A&E doctor said to me. "You must get out the house, contribute to society and just be among something you love". Well, babe, easier said than done.
The next day I was back in the office attempting to get on with the day. The words of the doctor firmly in my head I wondered, how could I ever be happy here? I wrote list after list of happy thoughts to try to shove the negative ones out. I searched high and low for the benefits of my job and attempted in every which way possible to be busy during the day. I cut my hours down to part-time, in an attempt to create a heavier workload, but I was still sat twiddling my thumbs. As the minutes dragged by in the office I could feel the years of work and progress I had made with my mental health unwind. The stitches of my self-care were being picked apart one-by-one. I valued myself too much to let all my time, work and energy on myself simply disappear.
It was during one of my slow, dark workdays that it hit me and I, once again, reflected on the words of the doctor. "Be among something you love". As those words circle around my head, it all became a little bit clearer. I pulled out my notebook and started to scribble down all the things I loved and then, very simply googled ‘how to make money doing [blank].'
The answer, baking. I love to bake – I always have – and my family have always told me to pursue it. But, of course, my past negative mind told me again and again that it was a lost cause and it would never get anywhere. So I ditched that idea and headed off the study English, and look where that got me. That was it. I was going to quit my job and start my own baking business. My family made sure to let me know that it was a dodgy idea and very risky and that I should "get another job before I quit". But, in true Amy style, I blocked out any piece of advice that I didn't want to hear and one Wednesday morning I turned to my boss and said the dreaded words "Do you have a minute?".
Within minutes everything had changed. My four weeks' notice was handed in and I needed to get into gear. The rest of my days in the office were spent designing my website, planning baking time, ordering business cards, officially registering my business - and honestly doing absolutely nothing related to my job. Even though I was still trapped in the lifeless tiny office I started to feel a tiny spark light within me. I wanted to get out of bed each day and I finally felt motivated to do something. I enjoyed researching and planning my website, setting up Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, and finally just loved doing my own thing.
Honestly, the hardest part of all of this is the overbearing pressure from everyone else. "But how will you make money?" "What if it doesn't work out" "But what about a career? A long-term one". And, of course, there were mornings where I woke up and thought to myself ‘what the hell have you done' and flashes at work where I momentarily thought ‘is it really this bad here'. But these were exactly that, moments. Only seconds in my day where I was filled with doubt. But, you know what? Life is too short and I value my time and health more than anything In the world. I refuse to spend my days silently crying in the toilets and dreading getting out of bed. I took the plunge and I refuse to look back.
I am aware of how lucky I am to not have to worry about money too. I don’t have children or have extortionate bills to pay so making sure I could finically survive was easy for me, but may be harder for you. Please do whatever you can to achieve your dreams. That may be quitting your full-time job or just spending a few hours a day working towards it instead. Just take this tiny piece of advice - you do you, babe. You. Do. You.”