This time last year I got laid off from my job.
At the time of writing this (11.30 am) human resources was watching me pack my belongings at my desk. I cried from the shock. I never thought I would since I didn’t like the job anyway. In fact, I hated it but the feeling of that security rug being pulled out from under my feet was overwhelming.
The last image my boss has of me was seeing the lift doors closing with me standing there, tears running down my face behind my wayfarers (heck I had to have some style in my last moment there). I was a blubbering mess. “Karen you’ll be fine,” she said: “Look at this as your chance to do what you love.” I couldn’t even respond from the tears even though as I walked out of the building with my belongings and a wet face it felt like a huge relief. Strange right?
Let’s rewind a bit back to Feb 2009…
I was dying a slow death at my desk every day and I started my blog as an escape. I loved playing with clothes and different looks, mixing high with low, vintage with designer, discovering gem shopping spots and having fun with fashion in New York, a place that still feels new coming from London. I had no formal qualifications to work in fashion so the blog was the outlet. Fast forward a year and as the blog grew I realized that I was essentially running two jobs: the 9-5 that I hated and WDUGT that I loved.
My routine was relentless. I would blog till 1am, go to bed, wake at 7am tired and rush to work. Come home at 6 – grab something to eat then blog all night again. Let’s not forget the outfit photography time squeezed in. But my office crack blackberry was never off. I was on call to respond to work emails through lunch hours, at home, where ever. It was a never-ending day and night cycle and I was starting to crack. I was getting physically ill and would make simple mistakes at work. My focus was on WDUGT but I was working for an ambitious and therefore, quite rightly, demanding boss. I was living a split-screen life. For years. Lay offs were common throughout the office – reflective of the US economy and for those lucky few not laid off, having a job felt like luck. Keep quiet and be grateful. But I needed to quit.
Being laid off today last year is one of the best and the scariest and bizarre moments that has happened to me. Why? because I had planned to quit at the end of last year anyway. I planned to quit my job because I knew the job wasn’t for me. My manager was pushing me to achieve more at work and it was sometimes too much. After reading these retention strategies for employers, it became clear that my manager may have been putting too much pressure on me. If only she would have read some of those strategies for keeping your staff happy, I may still have been there. Anyway, the lay off was a push ahead of schedule. For years I supported people who loved what they did for a living and I felt like it was my turn.
I used to have “what-if I could” thoughts but didn’t know if it could really happen.
Fast forward to today and WDUGT is my job. I love it. I have so much freedom and my home is my office. One of my friends was suggesting that I think about setting up an office somewhere in the house to make myself want to work. That’s not a bad idea. My friend told me that she already knows places where I could get an office desk and some cheap office chairs to really make me feel like I’m working and not just staying at home. Perhaps I’ll think about that in the future. For now, my living room is just fine. Although I’m enjoying life more now, I still feel like I got pushed off that cliff. I am still free-falling but I would rather take a risk and fall flat on my face than regret not trying at all. I suspect that thousands dream of something that they really love doing and it is not what they are doing right now.
I am not saying that everyone reading this should up and leave their jobs. Everyone’s situation and responsibilities are not the same. Heck – I am still working things out as I go along but I will tell you this: I feel 1000x better than I did one year ago and before. I think uncertainty is sometimes the price you pay for doing what you love for a living but I see nothing wrong with taking life by the balls and taking that ride anyway.
Find a way to do what you love and the rest will follow. I heard that somewhere and it’s worth repeating.
So I say to you to start small. Start anywhere. But just start. Start doing what YOU love. The rest will somehow find a way to follow in a way that you cannot predict.
Karen–Reading this, I was able to relate to you so much. I quit swimming, which my parents have pushed me to do my entire life, and instead pursued what I wanted–a fashion blog. Yeah, it’s not a sport. Yeah, now I do other things to stay fit. And my parents gotta accept that–it’s what I want. So I was very glad to read this. And I’m glad that you’re in a better place now! WDUGT is one of my fave blogs so i’m glad you love doing it 🙂
hello again Rory : ) I’m sure you feel a lot better doing what you really wanted to. You can always swim recreationally anyway if you like that. It’s your life to lead….
Amberly D'Anna says:
OMG thank you Karen for this post! This is exactly how I feel right now juggling my work life, and blog life..Hopefully I can take that leap too! 🙂
: )))) all the best Amberly – good timing with this post it sounds like
Karen, Thank you for this post. I have been working a job for my University for a while to put myself through school. I absolutely hate it, but I’m doing what I have to do to do what I want to do in the future. I started a blog literally two days ago as an outlet for my writing passion and as a way to be brave enough to do my own thing. I love your blog and really appreciate your candidness in this post. Thanks, Joia
Wow Karen! This is inspiring, we emails each other earlier this year and i spoke about being in the same position. This has reminded me that I need to get on it and live by my own dreams. You’re truly inspiring !
This struck a perfect chord with me today. I’ve found myself seriously frustrated after quitting my career last year to attend Parsons for a year and now I am stuck in a rut with lots of failed job applications for things I don’t really want anyway. It was a perfect pick me up for my somewhat grey (feeling and looking) Monday. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
wow I hope this helps you re-focus on what you need to do
Karen…I want to thank you so much for writing this…you’ve inspired me with your style for couple of years now, and then this text….exactly how I feel right now with work, university and my fashion blog! I live with my boyfriend and we’ve got rent and other bills to take care of which makes quitting my job impossible since I’m not sure if I could survive with only my blog, but I would so love to devote all my time on my blog and make inspirational posts for my readers, since that is what I want do do with all my body and soul…fashion and styling…being creative and I feel like my work and the University are sucking it out from me….guess I should take that leap of faith sometime soon…before I crack under all this pressure….
Lovely advice! I’m so glad you found what you love! This really is great inspiration! I hope you are crying tears of joy now 🙂
Candace Belle says:
This is beautiful! I am glad you found your way and you are paying it forward. Much continued success on your journey!
Karen, thank you for sharing this post. So often, too many of us spend our precious time in jobs we hate and living lives that are completely unsatisfying. While quitting one’s job isn’t always feasible, I certainly agree that it is important to try to find a way to do what you love, even if it is only for a part of the time, which is part of the reason why I started my own blog. I’m glad you had the opportunity to do what you love (and what you are so good at).
Agreed on finding that balance – very well said. I think that’s what it is and doing what makes sense for you and your circumstances.
Lovely blog post, very inspiring. I hope I can take the fist step to get out of my dead end job and what I love.
this is such an amazing post! I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I’m glad you were laid off! you’re a style icon! 🙂 so inspiring…
Karen, I really loved reading all that you had to say and appreciate you sharing your story with us. I think that sometimes in life we get too caught up in the daily routines of things to really stop and think if we’re doing something that we’re passionate about. I agree that doing more of what one love’s is a great remedy for life even if it means starting over or taking chances. LOVE this post!
Forever Fashion says:
Wow you’re amazing Karen!! That’s the same mentality I have had since I can’t do anything that I don’t 100% love!! And its good because I don’t waste my time with things I don’t want to do. Of course the hard part is taking those leap of faith and risks and chances! But we have to so we can live life to the fullest and in the end have no regrets.
I love blogging!
Samantha Manzella says:
This is very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Karen. It gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to reach your level of success with my own baby of a blog. 🙂 Love your blog to bits and wish you the best!
Seun Ogunsola says:
Great advice 🙂
Pretty In Thrift says:
Thank you. I am exactly where you were a little over a year ago. plans are in the works, but I am afraid! maybe I should stop admiring others for doing it and just get up and do it myself.