On the 22nd May 2012 I walked out my office, which I had occupied as the ‘boss’ for 17 years, never to return. It was a moment that took about 5 long years of mental abuse; jaw clenching sleep and exhaustion, to reach.
My business was all I knew. It was an integral part of who I was in my life and how people portrayed me. After a few months of insomnia, tears shared in sadness and pain it was finally over and I packed my car with what little trinkets I wanted to take with as a reminder of what was, and drove off.
I was petrified of unemployment and finding a “Job” and starting again. I had lost millions of Rands, a large part of my ego and friends. For the first few weeks I could not sleep through the night and even though my 5:30am alarm had been turned off, the seventeen-year cycle, of waking up in the dark, could not be broken. I would wake up and look for something to do; anything would do, as long as it took my mind off what was. I avoided all phone calls as the liquidated company owed money’s and old customers demanded services that were no longer deliverable.
I found myself pulling out weeds in my driveway, drinking coffee alone at the local roaster or sitting in friends’ offices using their free Wi-Fi just so I could get out the house. I dabbled in a few small businesses and helped out people who needed help – no matter what it was they needed. I was fighting depression, guilt and loneliness. All my friends were trying to cheer me up with the fact I was free to do what I wanted – something I wanted for many years, but freedom is not what you think it is. Freedom for me is being able to make a difference in my life at my own pace and having an impact on people around me that I cared about. I was not any freer than I was in the business I hated being in.
I committed to holidays I could not afford and bought clothing I did not need in order to fill the gaping void in my empty existence outside my business. My true friends and family in their wisdom kept reminding me that all would work out, that I was a bright young man that could start again and would find my feet and hit the ground running. In hindsight they were right. It just took me a few months to realize this for myself.
I am now working for someone in his business. I picked a new career that makes sense to me, that fits in with my life requirements of time, flexibility, answerability and creativity. You may think I am lucky now, but it’s a decision I made. I took the time to find what gave me pleasure and allowed me to wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose. I never understood how people could love their job or how they could work for other people and not be the owner or leader, until now.
I am not a religious man but I believe I have been re-born, re-incarnated, rejuvenated and re-invented in the past twelve months and I love the new me. I am not a motivational speaker or preacher but I have seen that at any stage of your life you can step away from whatever you feel is shackling you and start again. It’s nerve-racking and breathtaking but wholly worth the risk.
Risk everything for your happiness, I did, and now for the first time in years I’m a toddler looking into my future with new eyes, scared of nothing, ecstatic with all the newness and change in the world.
Thanks to Mom, Kim, Hammies, Jo, Mark P, Don & Rich, Spratty, Rodders, Shpronkles and the Bermans. You saw me through the worst and I love you all in my own way.