It’s coming up to a year since I graduated, and I’ve spent the past months – fortunately, and gratefully – working full-time. To walk into a salaried job straight out of university is surprising and overwhelming, particularly when you are not someone who enjoys change or meeting new people. The first ten months I was in the publishing industry, which I’d thought was my passion. Then I quit. I’m now working in admissions at a university – quite a different environment, but it’s teaching me a new skillset, and forcing me to get over my fear of talking to hundreds of people on the phone…
I’ve discovered something vitally important however, something I never thought would happen to me. As someone who’s always been studious and academic, loving the structure of education, enjoying the security of 8 hour days, knowing what I was doing from Monday to Friday, I thought office life would suit me well. Tailored clothes. Coffee to go. Okay, I’d romanticised the idea a little, and I mainly wear jeans, but I still believed that the planned ‘monotony’ would match my nature of organisation. It turns out I was very wrong.
Just recently I finished reading The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon – a free book on my Kindle as a commuting retreat. It follows two women from Australia who move to London in order to set up a new branch of a tea boutique. Kate is the co-owner of the company, with no business knowledge but a bursting creative passion for making tea. Leila has just lost her job and is brought in to help manage the finance side of things. But throughout it all – after hooking up with two English women looking for a fresh start – the fundamental value of The Tea Chest is exploring creativity and fluidity in work. Doing what you love, doing it well, and having a product at the end. I felt something inside me resonate with the story, and build up a desire to do just that. Make something.
It turns out there’s a slightly rebellious, creative part of me that I’ve never fully explored. I did Art GCSE which had me splashing paint around just because I found it fun. Every now and then I’ll pull out my watercolours and put the pictures in my head onto paper for a few blissful hours. I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading, and have various opening paragraphs scattered in notebooks and on my laptop. Always a beginning, never an ending. In my family my dad and sister were the creatives – my sister’s doodles more elaborate than anything I’d spent hours slaving over, dad producing Japanese-style pieces on parchment at the drop of a hat. But it turns out this creativity, this desire to produce, that I’ve always dismissed, is stronger than I’d realised. It’s grown into something persistent and powerful, and I now believe that until I have a job that lets it out, I’m never going to be fully satisfied.
So now I’m on the hunt for something more. I’m enjoying my current work, my colleagues are friendly, and it’s bringing in the pennies which is always a good thing. But I’m not going to settle for 9-5 office. I want more. My dream is still to edit from home, and I’ll never give up on that. Nevertheless, until I’m in a position to do that full-time, I’m going to find something new. Something engaging, that doesn’t just need organisation and efficiency, but something from within to drive and create. Something that at the end of the day leaves a tangible reminder of the hard work put into it, before starting another one, a new project, the next piece. Be it opening a book shop and seeing the sales figures at the end of each month, or learning to build furniture and finishing my first cabinet, or assisting an interior designer to photograph and plan stunning rooms. I don’t know what, where, or how it’ll be. But I’ll do it.