Taking a step outside of your comfort zone expands it and opens doors to new opportunities, perhaps to ones that you’ve always dreamed of.
The wheel started turning approximately eleven years ago when I was 37 years old. I had made a sudden decision to quit my comfy government job to pursue an education in website design. That annoying feeling that something wasn’t quite right in my life spurred me into action. You know, the feeling that we are afraid to acknowledge because it means big change? Change can feel as uncomfortable as bushwhacking in shorts through blackberry bushes, but if we ignore that feeling it can be even more excruciating later on. Regret is a terrible thing to live with.
From an early age, I was encouraged to use art to express myself. Mom saved the folded paper cat that I had made when I was five. It was of Simon who I had found lying in a depression near the family well. I don’t know what killed him, but finding his stiff lifeless body deeply affected me. It was my first realization that nothing lives forever, so to cope I sat down and drew some life into him. Inside the folded paper cut-out of his body, I drew a smiling heart with rays of vitality streaming out from it.
Art was my favourite subject in school. I learned to draw with various grades of graphite as well as pen and ink when I was ten years old thanks to Mr. Moore. Later on, I learned to paint with acrylics and then compose photographs with the rule of thirds. Finally, I added writing to my repertoire.
My young teenaged mind was more focused on entering the workforce at 18 years old rather than pursuing an education like I should have. It was a novelty to have money. Naturally, I followed in my mother’s foot-steps and landed a clerical job at a university and, years later, even in the same school district where my mom worked as an executive secretary. It didn’t matter to me back then that I wasn’t passionate about the work or that the opportunities to be creative were far and few between. I took the easy road I suppose, but then life happened which wasn’t easy at all. At 21 years old, I became pregnant with a beautiful son and my focus became motherhood, some of it as a single mother.
At 37, the prickly feeling of ‘much needed change’ began to dig in deeply. If I didn’t do it then, I never would so after a terrible day at work I took a step forward and wrote a resignation letter. Two weeks later, I walked out a door that I had entered 11 years prior leaving the benefits, a growing pension and five weeks holidays per year behind.
It felt odd to sit in a classroom full of young people who were just starting to grow their careers, but I had no regrets. If anything, I felt alive and excited to experience the growth in my confidence level and skills. I was taking steps forward in a direction that I’m passionate about, creating beautiful and organized websites. I graduated with honours.
My previous work experience as an administrative assistant/coordinator at the high school and higher education levels has been valuable. The skills I developed compliment what I do now with websites, plus I can be creative and utilize my photography and communication skills through writing and social media marketing.
My journey on the path of web design is growing and evolving. I trod slowly until last September, perhaps because I feared to let go of my safety net or the promise of steady income through the UVic temporary staffing pool. Web design was always a side job until now. Letting go of my safety net was scary at first. It still is but to a lesser degree. I’ve proven to myself through many past situations, including solo travel, that I can find solutions to problems when times are tough.
Now, I am facing new changes, but I know they are presenting me with opportunity. My landlord gave me and two other roommates notice to leave at the same time that my latest contract with UVic has wrapped up. I could have gone back to the temporary staffing pool, but I said no. Although I’ve appreciated the opportunities it has provided, I need to let it go if I truly want to achieve my goal.
My 2018 goal is to fully emerge myself in website design and other creative pursuits while working remotely from somewhere in the world. First stop is Squamish, B.C. in April. Following that, I will house sit in North Saanich in May. I’m not sure what I will do in June. Perhaps by then, I will venture further out into the world with my laptop, but who knows.
One step at a time.