As children, we are programmed to sit up straight and listen as we are supposedly given the education that will allow us to pay the bills when we mature into adults. What nobody prepares you for, however, is getting so caught up in that mentality that you eventually forget to put your own needs and feelings first.
Back in April, I had served two and a bit years in retail. My job was only supposed to support me through university, to top up my bank account and allow me to go to Florida. It was never meant to be more than that. I turned up, I sold some speakers and I left. During training, we were told that the customer was at the centre of the company, and being a people person, I lapped this up. Slowly over time, the role became more and more target based, less about the customer and even less about the staff.
I had begun to get caught up in the process of just waking up to pay the bills. I have never been the type of person who wants to live just to have a half decent bank balance. My dad always says ‘you can’t take it with you’ and he’s right. I’d rather take the memories and the emotions with me through life.
Still, I mustered on. Applying for new jobs here and there, I was desperate to get out of retail. I know everyone jokes about it, but retail is so draining. The long days, the hard work, the being disrespected by customers, the targets. All of it can be make you feel like you’re not good enough. I was ready for a new start, and a new job.
The final straw came when I had to take some time off for my mental health, and it just wasn’t understood. Both HR and my manager failed to deliver a duty of care that I feel would have been delivered if I had broken my leg. Upon my return, I emailed my notice over and that was that. Things got really hard upon my return, because nobody was understanding the utter pain that was going on. Nobody questioned why I was crying in the bathroom or standing quietly near the till. Instead, management rolled their eyes and asked me why my sales were down. I was then told that due to a completely outdated system, I was going to be disciplined for taking time off work. Yeah, you read that right. Bose, a multi-million pound business that sell high-end luxury sound systems were about to put me through a disciplinary for wanting to kill myself.
Whichever way you look at it. Whether you think I was costing the company money, or whether I was putting my colleagues through overtime or whether you think I should have just sucked it up and got on with it, the way I was treated was categorically wrong. A few years ago, my mum severely broke her ankle, resulting in surgery and a long time off work. Not once was subject to a disciplinary for time off. Why is mental health treated differently?
Enough was enough. I typed up my notice and I handed it in. I didn’t realise what I had done until I had sent it. I had no job lined up, I didn’t have much in savings and I had a huge trip to Australia on the horizon. But I felt happier. Instantly I felt like I could focus on myself.
It was these events that led me to start the petition. The infamous petition that was going well until Theresa May called that idiotic snap election. I just felt like if my manager, and my HR department had more understanding of mental health, then I wouldn’t have been pushed towards the door in order to save myself. One of my really good friends put me in contact with her mum, who works in a mental health organisation. Upon meeting them, I fell in love with the place. However, I no longer needed them as my petition had been cancelled. So I offered my services.
They asked me to build a website. That should have taken me two weeks. They then asked me to put a few other things in place. Slowly but surely, I was invited onto the Directors board and the rest, as they say, is history. I am now part director, part tech guru part well-being team member. It pays less than Bose. A lot less. But I am not complaining. What I have lost in earnings I have made up for in happiness and self-belief.
A little corner of Liverpool holds a mental-health cafe, a second hand shop and a well-being centre. Who knew I’d finally, after 24 years of searching, find my calling in life?
What I am trying to tell you in my usual round-the-houses way is that money isn’t the be all and end all. Money makes the world go round, yes. But it shouldn’t be the centre of your universe. These days, we are working, tweeting, texting and sleeping our way through life. Rarely do we stop and recognise that we are all individuals. We never take a deep breath of fresh air and realise that we are alive. We all agree that we have one life, but we fail to live it for fear of not having the latest iPhone or the biggest wardrobe. Who cares?
You do you.
Leave your well paid job for a richer life of happiness. Find yourself a place in this world that is truly yours.