A month or so ago my managing director walked up to my desk and asked me to come into his office. My heart started beating quickly. Suddenly, I was eight years old again, worrying that I had unwittingly transgressed one of the grown-ups’ rules. Had they discovered that I hadn’t ordered my post-it notes from the preferred supplier?
I did the walk of shame through the vast open-plan office and noticed eyes quickly dart in my direction. I tried to look as nonchalant as possible, but sensed that my face was glowing. It had to be bad news.
I sat down and listened to what sounded like a preamble to something unpleasant. The managing director showed me a series of spreadsheets with figures that seemed to merge into each other and talked about budgets and long-term strategies. Then he came to the point. My department was now the most profitable part of the business and it was time to think about the future.
It slowly dawned on me that this wasn’t bad news. I listened as my managing director talked about expansion, moving to a separate building and investing in the project, realising that this was actually very good news for me. At last, I had the potential to earn some serious money.
But I felt utterly miserable. Why?
At first I couldn’t understand why I had reacted so badly, but on reflection it made perfect sense. Things had changed. My son and mother needed me more than ever and even though my employers had been very understanding, the 9 to 5 routine no longer made any sense. I needed to work in Lewes; preferably for myself, as this would give me the flexibility that I needed.
Today I handed in my resignation. In October I will be self-employed for the first time in my life. The whole thing feels unreal and slightly terrifying, but I am absolutely certain that I have made the right decision.
I will need to have enough money to pay for food and bills, so I’m planning to do what I do now on a smaller scale: Steerforth Books. I’ve also been offered a few pieces of work by other people, so I hope that between running a small business and doing a few short-term projects, I’ll survive.
I may just have made one of the silliest decisions of my life, but somehow I don't think so.
(By the way, this blog is five years old today. It began almost by accident – a nasty bout of food poisoning from bad oysters left me bed-ridden for two weeks and out of sheer boredom, I created a blog. It would have probably been swiftly abandoned, but Ms Baroque generously responded to my fatuous first post and I was hooked. I couldn’t quite believe that you could type any old nonsense on your laptop and with minutes, complete strangers would come up with pertinent, thought-provoking observations. It was wonderful.
Thank you to everyone who has posted comments over the years. I only wish that we could all meet up in a pub one day. I have met a few bloggers in the flesh and, without exception, they have been even more likeable and interesting than their blog selves.)