Today I embark on the first phase of a major career transition. And while I know in my heart of hearts that it is the best thing I could ever do for myself, it’s bloody terrifying.
Last Friday, I finished up my role as Legal Director for an international media company. Today, I start the whole freelance thing as a legal consultant. It’s the first step in my transition from lawyer to (eventually) doing what I love – fashion, travel and writing – as my full time gig…
I started out my career in law not because I was passionate about corporate law (far from it), but because I was told that a career in fashion/journalism was too difficult. I was told that fashion jobs are scarce, it is a highly competitive industry etc. I’m not sure why law was my next obvious choice then, as one could say exactly the same things about a legal career. Perhaps it was the idea that a traditional career path in the corporate world was much more desirable than the relative uncertainty of creative industries.
Either way, I don’t regret my career in law for a second. My job has fed my insatiable appetite for travel, taking me to cities all over the world. I have managed to steer my career into the industries that I’m passionate about: media and marketing. And I know what it takes to run a successful media business. But in recent years, I came to the realisation that although my job is intellectually challenging and personally rewarding in many ways, it doesn’t capture my imagination or let me express myself in the way that my blog does.
When I told my colleagues that I’d resigned to freelance as a legal consultant, a few of them asked me if it was because I was asked to leave the company. They couldn’t quite understand why I would choose to leave a secure position with a global company, effectively stepping off the career ladder, to opt for the uncertainty of freelancing. This attitude didn’t make me falter in my decision, however. After all, there’s a bigger picture for me, with Second Sister being at the heart of it. But today, on my first day as a consultant, I have to say I’m a little afraid.
The uncertainty of what will happen next is as thrilling as it is terrifying. Will I end up working in my pyjamas all day? Will I become one of those laptop people in hipster cafes, hyped up on caffeine as I do my freelance thing? Will the universe just fall into place and make my transition smooth like a lovingly-prepared flat white?
The more I speak with people in the self-employed world, the more I see that I am not in a minority here. These days, it is becoming common for women in particular who have been on a career trajectory to decide to step off in favour of something more personally fulfilling. Those things we loved to do as children keep on coming up, tapping us on the shoulder and reminding us of who we really are and what we love to do. Following your dream, I’ve found, is a matter of listening out for those reminders, and trusting your instinct.
For me, I always loved writing short stories for school, styling outfits from my Mum’s old clothes in the dress-up box, and dreaming about distant fairytale-style towns that were so different to the suburban Melbourne of my childhood. I’ve finally found a way to combine them all with my blog. It’s a platform where I can lose the run of myself discussing ways to wear sequins, sharing the magic of a dawn stroll in Rome, and where I can celebrate the careers of women who are doing interesting and creative things.
So here I am on my first day of freedom, partly terrified and partly never more certain of anything in my life. I have the safety net of legal consulting work, while I transition towards making Second Sister my full time gig. What I’ve learned so far is that following one’s dreams is exhilarating.