Last month, after a lot of stress, frustration and unhappiness, I decided to make a decision that would take me out of 25 years of secure, full-time employment and into the great unknown: I said goodbye to my well-paid job and to the profession I have been working in all my life.
I am now classing myself as a blogger and a writer, a freelance for eventual hire, and a semi-retired lady of leisure. My former industry – libraries – has changed so much since I started.
Do more with less has been the mantra across all aspects of service, while expectations continue to grow from what we now call ‘customers’ rather than ‘readers’ or ‘users’.
I cared so much about my profession. I contributed so much to it: building teams, changing strategy, giving presentations, writing articles, serving on committees.
I built a national and international reputation for being tough but fair, for wanting the very best for any service for which I was a part. I worked in every area of the business from unpacking boxes to supporting and advising executive staff.
But – my health was suffering underneath for years. I have crippling social anxiety so networking became more and more of a chore. And although I never doubted myself once as a professional, things started to change so fast and make me so worried I fell into depression, anxiety and insomnia.
I knew what it was, and I also knew that support in any business is still sorely lacking. Eventually with the help of my GP, a Harley Street psychologist, doctors at Occupational Health, my lovely husband, and the wisdom of friends who had also strugged to cope, I steadily improved, realised that getting well = getting out, and so here I am.
It’s by far the best decision I have ever made. I retain my column in Serisls Review. I am stepping up my blog. I hope to get some guest slots or invitations to write elsewhere. I’m planning a third poetry book.
In terms of eventually making money I want to get my proofreading and copyediting qualifications (so if you’re reading this and can put any work my way which I could use to build my portfolio, please contact me via the About page here).
I want to be out and about reviewing theatre, film, archive television, books. So if you would like me to engage with your work, send me an email.
Most importantly, now I don’t have a day job where I have to watch what I say, I can now be more political, more activist, more honest in how I engage on social media. Of course as an ex-librarian I retain their code of ethics, but if I want to call something out I will do it.
Being constrained and squashed was making me ill. I’m still tired, rundown, and sometimes have bad ‘crawl under the duvet’ days.
But I sleep better, and don’t have the knot in my chest or the pain in my stomach that are physical manifestations of stress. At least not as much as before.
I’m hopeful. I’m contented. I was absolutely right to say ‘so long’ to Louise the librarian and ‘hello’ to Lou, the brave.