Thoughts On Quitting A Career I've Worked Hard At, Aged 29

Monday, 8 October 2018

In 22 days, my current career will come to an end. Goodbye, sayonara {suckers}, lose my number, don't try to call, gone. Eight whole years of hard work will come down to absolutely nothing, a lot of the skills I've acquired will be rendered useless, and quite a few of the people I've encountered on this path will regard my decision with ill concealed pity. Because, after all, we all know how the saying goes: 'those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.'

And you know what? I'm good with that. Because I can't wait to move on*

*OK, so I'm being a bit dramatic. I won't actually be done with marketing for a while yet, due to switching back to freelancing {a different, on the whole friendlier and more fulfilling, beast to what I'm about to go into} while I retrain. For the sake of the dramz: OMG, it's, like, almost over. For the sake of my freelance clients: Don't worry, I'm still here 😉

Marketing was never my passion, nor was it my original plan. Rather, it was something I fell into after university, once I came to terms with the idea that journalism isn't really something you can easily make your way in, unless you have parents that will bank roll you for two years while you 'gain experience.' I did not have that luxury. What I did have, however, was a joint honours with one side that was vaguely marketing adjacent, coupled with bags of enthusiasm in interviews, which gave me an edge over some others, and landed me in my first role - a nice, gentle in-house learning curve - and then my second, which is where I really think my 'career' began. The thing is, I was good at marketing right from the get go. Really good {not a confident person in so many areas, but I know I'm good at my job} I was pulled from PPC to SEO to social to PR to copywriting, and I thrived in each environment. Eventually, I came to love the work. Though I feel this love should be coupled with punctuation - 'love' - because I never truly fell for the discipline as a whole {though certain elements do appeal to me - I genuinely do love creative content planning, for example, and SEO is fun to boot}, more for the thrill of a job well done.

And I thought that was fairly standard, to be honest. I know so many people that feel the same way that it seemed normal to have more bad times than good in the workplace, and so I just got on with it. Until a couple of years back, when D floored me with the following words: 'I love my job. Not all the time. But about 99% of it'

As if.

It was then that I started to rethink things properly {after rethinking casually right from the start} but with a tinge of fear. Fear of people thinking I was a failure. Fear that I would think of myself as a failure. Fear of all of those years I'd worked so hard, only to stop now, just as some would probably consider my career as on the up. I'm management level now, technically, with enough experience to demand the good money if I want it, after starting out all those years ago as an assistant on barely more than minimum wage. I'm here, I'm near the top, and now I'm jumping off the edge into the unknown.

Like an idiot. {or... a HERO? Watch this space for future confirmation of which, ha}

I am an anxious person, and that fear of judgement was enough to keep me in check. But now I'm not so anxious {cheers marriage and medication} and I'm all set to take the plunge. If people don't get it, that's fine. You have to do what works for you.

But why am I so keen to drop out now, after working so hard?

Weeellllll, here are some reasons:

The higher you get, the tougher your shell
This may just be the experiences I've had, and it may not be everywhere. But it seems to me that the better you do in the ad industry, the more you have to tread on the little guy to get what you want and need. Kindness is seen as a weakness more than a strength, and it's so easy to be tarnished as 'too soft' if you try to help others more than you try to help yourself. That's fine for the people that want to make it in advertising much more than I want to make it in advertising. But that's not a game I want to play. And so I'm going to drop out before it becomes a neccesity in the name of advancement

I want to see my husband, my friends, and our future baby fam
Oh my gawwwwd the late nights and early mornings that come hand in hand with this job are killer. I was cleaning out old paperwork the other day and found a letter I had to sign for a big London agency I worked at, waiving my right to go home on time, or to ask for overtime pay. I have had more 12-15 hour days than I can count, and they all come with the same downfalls:exhaustion, junk food, loss of the will to live. I don't tend to mind this too much when it's happening, but it does make life hard when you're juggling a career with a relationship, a social life, and - in future - babies. I want to be able to make evening plans without worrying I'll have to cancel to work late on something SUPER important that JUST LANDED and CAN YOU HAVE THIS DONE BY 9AM EVEN THOUGH IT'S ALREADY 6PM? No mate, not anymore

The stress is unreal
We're really not curing cancer here guys, it shouldn't be this hard

As is the sexism
I was once asked the following question in an interview: 'And how do you get men to take you seriously in the workplace, looking the way you look?' to which I answered 'by doing a good job.' We have not come far enough since the era of Mad Men, let's just leave it at that

The work doesn't speak for itself
How much ass you kiss does, though, and I've never really developed a taste for that

What good am I really doing here?
And then it comes down to this. What good am I actually doing as a marketeer? I've made the joke 'marketing is evil' so many times but you know what, it's kinda not a joke is it, really? On a whole, this is an industy responsible for lowering self esteem, ripping people off, belittling minorities {and women folk} and contributing to people's monetary problems by selling them crap they don't need. I just want to do something good with my time on this earth, and I'm not sure this is it

Again, the above points are generalisations, but you get what I'm trying to say - basically, this isn't a good fit anymore, and perhaps never was.

As for regrets? I don't really have any. Although I've outlined mainly the bad, it's not all been awful. I've met some great people, worked on some interesting accounts, been a part of the world's largest organisations, been to media parties {wiiiiine} and had the chance to be paid to sit in a room and just brainstorm for hours and hours while eating biscuits. The dream.

I'm proud of what I've achieved, I'm proud of what I plan to do moving forward {hoping to retrain as a primary school teacher, get some of those nurturing muscles going} and I'm proud of all the people I'm leaving behind that are passionate about this, and are doing well with it. You're rockstars

But you have to do what you have to do at the end of the day. And this is what I have to do. If only for the sake of my mental health, which has improved a million fold since I settled on this choice.

Time to be brave. Time to teach. Time to spend the next year having a lie in as I freelance from my bed

Lottie xx

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