I voted to remain and, like so many people who voted the same, I am finding it hard to come to terms with the uncertain times we now find ourselves in.
I am single, 46, childless and self-employed. I have an interest-only mortgage, no pension and no one ― as yet ― to care for me in my old age. I know I am not alone in my situation, a situation which to others, perhaps with a more secure financial and family plan for their future, could be seen as a bit tragic, but I don’t see it like that at all.
Every now and again you need a good shake up in your life. The end of a relationship, redundancy, death of a loved one, health issues, the turning of British politics on its head. Anyone of these major events can be turned into a life-defining opportunity. You have a choice. Life doesn’t have to floor you when it doesn’t go according to plan, it can give you the guts to follow your heart and turn sadness and fear into liberation and adventure. You choose.
At 32 I was made redundant from my job in telecoms. I was single, had just bought a flat and I knew that if I didn’t do something constructive with my redundancy money I would just fritter it away. I had no idea what career path I wanted to take but, more importantly, I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be in an office. I wanted to be more creative. I knew that if I banked my money for a rainy day, put on a suit and commuted, I would find myself once again in a job that only met my financial needs and, long term, there was no satisfaction in that. So instead I rented out my flat and went on an adventure. My purpose was to make a decision as to what new career I wanted to pursue when I returned if indeed I was to return.
The thought of travelling alone was terrifying me, and I had it in my head I would be the only 30+ female solo traveller in the whole world. How wrong I was. I met so many awesome people and a lot of them were women on their own and many of them were 40, 50 and 60, I wasn’t as ground-breaking as my ego had led me to believe.
My travels took me from Southeast Asia to a long stay in New Zealand, and then across to Australia. I met a boy in the idyllic setting of Byron Bay and I followed him back to Sydney. When I discovered he was a small time drug dealer and not an electrician, I made a quick escape with a broken heart and flew to Bangkok. I hooked up with a girl – who has now become one of my best friends – and we headed out for the night in that crazy Asian city. We rode elephants, played pool with “Lady Boys” and were so disturbed by a sex show that we did a runner without paying for our drinks. It was a night of many memories and the night that changed my life. I woke up the next morning, dazed, confused and hungover. It was hot and humid and I was sweaty and dehydrated, but the first thought that entered my head was “I’m going to become a hairdresser.”
It was a damascene moment. Somewhere, sometime, I must have a planted a seed in my subconscious. Hairdressing had never been on my list of jobs to pursue, but here it was, presenting itself to me, and it ticked all my boxes. I could travel with it, it was creative, it was a skill that would never be automated, I could be my own boss, I wouldn’t have to put on a suit and sit in an office, tick, tick, tick. And so I declared to my friend that I could now make my way home. I had found the answer to my question. My quest was over.
I am continually grateful for the opportunity I had to be able to take 18 months off and explore the world and myself. Every day whilst doing the job I love I am thankful for that “devastating” redundancy 14 years ago that had the potential to create overwhelming uncertainty, but ultimately prompted me to change my life for the better.
I am now planning my next change. I am determined to live a happy and fulfilling old age without worrying about money or my relationship status. My dream is to be able to work from anywhere in the world from my laptop and the way I want to fulfil this is to become a writer. I am planning my own Brexit, should you be planning yours?
This article also appeared in The Huffington Post