Clattering saucepan lids in the street at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve is pretty much folklore now. Instead we’ve turned to fireworks, Jools Holland and drinking until our livers ache – all whilst posting on social media with flattering filters. The majority of us will make New Year’s Resolutions. My news feed will fill up with “new year – new me” posts followed by a list of positive changes played out publicly for a week or two and then shelved by most for another year.
Last year I posted my own list but by February life events took a turn and deathstarred my whole fucking planet! It’s left me scarred. But, like most of us, it adds to the existing battle scars our lives inflict upon us. Some of us wear them as medals of honour, others hide them under ill-fitting clothes. My clothes don’t fit anymore.
2020 promises so much, what with it being the start of a new decade, but I’m not pinning an unrealistic postcard image of how it’s going to pan out. Not all of it is going to be pretty. We have the ugly mess that is Brexit to sort through and I personally have redundancy on the horizon.
The prospect of being forcibly made unemployed is doubly difficult when I’m also having to protect third parties who project their own fears and anxieties about my redundancy onto my canvas. But it’s taught me about support and, if you can excuse the tree-huggy term: self-worth.
When I was an art student I was surrounded by creative, like-minded people. It was competitive but it was inspiring and a driver to push and explore and develop. We all believed in each other’s talents and we rallied and supported and encouraged.
One by one, the majority of us fell into the machine and were swallowed up by expectations, responsibilities and dependants far away from a colour chart or a paintbrush sat overnight in thinners. Third parties were no longer like-minded creatives and well-intended advice and opinion was delivered from a world we didn’t belong to and as we stepped further into the machine our lights dimmed – but they never went out…
Twice I’ve had an opportunity to step closer to the edge but never had the confidence to actually step off.
This is the third time.
This time I have a strong sense that everything is aligning and whatever greater power has a hand in this, has realised there’s nobody here to offer their hand and has therefore slowed everything down so I can just step off and test the water. In addition, my SWOT analysis indicates the redundancy package is good. The timescales are good. The foundations are good. I’d be a fool not to. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m not getting any younger. This could be my last chance.
I posted on a professional forum that I was being made redundant and asked for advice. I didn’t edit my request and knew I would receive responses guiding me to do things I’d already anticipated but I was hoping to get a few little nuggets of advice that I’d not even considered. The two nuggets that struck me most were:
(1) not to use my redundancy payment as my safety net but to instead start squirrelling away as much money as possible in anticipation of the redundancy date and to use my redundancy money as a loan that would need paying back should I need to dip into it for any reason.
(2) to work on myself in much the same way that I work on my professional development. To find ways to manage stress, stay healthy and look good from a marketing sense – essentially becoming the product (or at least the tool).
And this is where I am right now. At the cusp of two chapters, and regardless of self-doubt and projected third party fear, it’s actually quite exciting to stand here staring off into the future…