Skills

Fear of Change and the Promise of New Beginnings

By Jesus Solana
By Jesus Solana

Excitement is fizzing and popping underneath my calm exterior at the moment. Change is afoot, with its candy-scented promise of success. It’s not the type of change that happens out of the blue, when you are unprepared and unsuspecting; it is the sort I initiated myself.

You see, for a long time my career choices have been shaped by the fact we have young children. I valued a secure salary and flexible working options so I went back to my job at City Hall after the children were born. The problem is, I’m no longer the same person I was when I started working there seven years ago. The tussle of politics has lost its sheen and I crave more creativity. I’d been carving out small pockets of time around my job in London and childcare for both my own writing and building up my writing business, but there just wasn’t enough time in the day. More than that, I got more fulfilment from writing a small article for a client, than from delivering a big budget project in London.

My husband and I toyed with the idea of whether I should leave the day job. We did our sums and worked out that we can afford it and that now is a good time to concentrate on my fiction and expanding the writing business. Writing fits in beautifully around when one of us has to be there for the children. It also means I will be closer to home for school performances and those inevitable phone-calls telling me my child has projectile vomited across the room and needs to be picked up immediately. The thought of having more time to write is exhilarating but inexplicably, I found myself saying: ‘Security is so important. I should stay in the job a bit longer.’

By Angela Marie Henriette
By Angela Marie Henriette

Change is unsettling: it breeds fear. It is much easier to focus on what we lose through change than what we may gain. Why would you risk certainties for uncertainties? Isn’t it much better to cling to safety than to risk losing face? For me, it was about about realising that the status quo didn’t measure up any more. Uncalculated risks are foolhardy but so is continuing on a path that you know doesn’t allow you to live up to your potential.

Leaving City Hall was hypothetical until the first day back at work in the new year, the day on which I’m told most resignations and applications for divorce are submitted. I rolled out of bed that morning in the dark to gusts of wind and sheets of rain, and had no idea that I was going to resign. I sat down as my desk with a coffee, started up my computer and began catching up on the emails I had missed over the holiday period. It hit me that I was in the wrong place and had been for some time. I called my husband.

‘Can I resign? It feels right.’

‘Wow…Well, we’ve done the math. Sure, do it.’

‘Am I being stupid?’

‘We can make this work.’

After that phone call, I went upstairs and typed out a resignation letter. It still feels right to have acted as I did, but the fear remains. It’s daunting to be leaving a secure income behind. There is a lot to wrap up at work before I leave, so for the moment writing has taken a back seat. I can see the shadows of looming monsters at the edge of my consciousness begging me for attention, asking me to succumb to anxiety, uncertainty and regret before I have even started on my new path.

The truth is, uncertainty is part of life. Yes, I am taking a risk, but we have made sure this is viable financially. Although change is intimidating, I am buoyed by what I now know. Taking risks is liberating. Surrounding yourself with supportive and inspiring family and friends helps keep fear at bay. Success is not assured, but we learn though our endeavours, not by hiding. Resilience and courage can take you a long way.

I’ve dipped a tentative foot in the unknown. We’ll see what strange, beautiful creatures come swimming my way.

‘I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.’ Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point

‘Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.’ William Arthur Ward

26 thoughts on “Fear of Change and the Promise of New Beginnings

  1. Congratulations Nillu, for taking the leap (or, as you said “dipping your toe”) into the unknown. I found the courage to do this too and although its been a roller coaster of ups and downs (more my doing – smile), I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am 100% with you on the “Uncalculated risks are foolhardy but so is continuing on a path that you know doesn’t allow you to live up to your potential.” May we all find the courage to live up to our full potential. Good luck with your writing journey.

  2. That was a bold leap, and I’m sure its going to work out for the best! Its scary now, but just wait until everything stables out again. Then you’ll get to brag how your job is what you love.

  3. I worked a full time job for 11 years before I took the leap you’re taking now. Having a routine will help ease the anxiety, and so will remembering you CAN do this. Best wishes to you, Nillu! ♥

  4. Congratulations! Though it is good that you know the risks, keep in mind as well that you have security many people do not have – a loving, supportive spouse who has done the math with you. Any woman who can see proximity to projectile vomit as a good tradeoff for doing what she loves has all the grit and determination she needs. I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey.

    1. Thanks Paula. Yes, J is the magic bean in all this. I couldn’t do this unless he was totally on board. It helps also that the flexibility of writing suits the needs of our young family and his future job prospects. Feels like the stars have aligned and it made sense to try this now, as it may not always be possible. Thanks for commenting. Who knew projectile vomit could be so positive? ;)

  5. Congratulations, Nillu! I am only jealous that now you’ll have more time to write than I :) I wish you the best – I know you’ll make good of this exceptional opportunity!

    1. Hey Amira,

      it’s a wonderful opportunity but we’ll see if I am able to knuckle down and focus.

      It’s taken years to get to this point but what I found interesting was when it happened a big part of me wanted to run the other way!

      Guts, talent, grind. Let’s see if I can make this work. Either way, it’s going to teach me a lot about myself.

      Looking forward to catching up on Porous today. Speak soon.

  6. Congratulations, Nillu! Change is people’s greatest challenge. The first step is the hardest, it gets easier along the way. I am pretty convinced you made the right decision.
    Best wishes!!! :-)

  7. I think change we initiate for ourselves is always exciting, although yes a little scary! A few years ago after a period of work stress induced depression I made the difficult decision to leave my permanent, healthy-salaried full time teaching post of 12 years to do supply teaching. Uncertain, less pay, no sick pay, no holiday pay supply teaching. Everyone was concerned it was the wrong decision and although it meant a huge drop in my salary, it was just about financially viable and I figured my health was far more important anyway. The day I handed in my resignation felt immensely liberating and I knew immediately I’d done what was right for me.
    I was scared as hell when that September arrived and I spent the first two weeks of term without work but pretty soon everything fell in to place. It took some adjusting (mainly financially) but four years on and I’ve not looked back once. My circumstances changed again two years later and more scary difficult decisions had to be made but as one friend said to me:

    “It’s just the next chapter in your life”.

    For you exciting times lie ahead and you have the support from your wonderful family. Good luck to you! Everything’s for a reason. Leap into your new life and embrace it. If you’d stayed you’d still be wondering “what if I left….” :)
    Oh and yes, jealous you get to do more writing too! :D

    1. Hi Joanne, thanks for taking the time to read and share your story. Change is even more difficult when you’re not the instigator. I’m glad you were able to take control in your work situation and do what was right for you. It can be tempting for us all to bury our heads in the sand, and it takes courage to change direction.

      Thanks very much for the good wishes. I will be praying to the productivity gods every night ;)

  8. Bravo, bravo, Nillu! Beautifully expressed and beautifully written (not that I’ve ever seen anything less from you, nor would I expect to). I, too, have focused on mothering and my children for years and years – although I had the luxury of doing it as a stay-at-home-mom. Transitioning my own thinking into that of, “I am a writer. I will write,” has been challenging for me, and still too often takes a back seat to household and husband and children needs. I’m pushing myself to enter the quest-for-publication fray so that I don’t end up doing nothing with the words I’ve spewn forth.

    Best of luck to you, and I look oh-so-forward to reading your fiction in the near future!

    1. Margaret, what a wonderful comment. Thank you :). It’s easy with family life, to get sucked into the fray, and to put our own needs last. The love for our nearest and dearest is empowering, but should not be all-consuming, I think. You know by now that I am a huge fan of your writing, and I too look forward to seeing more from you. I think I saw on this week’s Flash! Friday that you have a website? I must track it down…

      1. I do – margaretlocke.com :)

        Not tons of stuff on it, but I’m working on that. All my Flash is there, plus other odd ramblings, but you are more than welcome to visit!

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