A Moment That Mattered: The Moment I Decided to Quit my Job
Amy Smyth describes the moment she decided to leave her job in advertising to become a photographer.
It seems very well timed that I should be asked to write about a moment that mattered whilst heavily pregnant, peering over the edge of what is set to be another momentous change.
The first one hit when I was 25. A textbook quarter-life crisis. I now look back at the summer of 2008 as some kind of weird and wonderful paradox. I’ve never been so lost, yet on paper I was having fun. Festival to festival. Party to party.
I had a job but I hated it. Having fought hard to get a job in a top advertising agency, I was miserable: a frustrated creative in a glorified secretarial role. On Mondays, I reluctantly dragged myself to work and survived the day by fitting in as many cigarettes and coffee breaks as I could get away with.
My summer of hedonism accumulated in a ten day trip to Ibiza. Whilst there, a close friend of mine took me aside and gave me two of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever been given: no one wants to hear you moan and follow your heart and do something you love.
The former made absolute sense. I’d been wallowing in self-pity, drawing my closest friends into my misery and ostracizing myself along the way. The second took a while to work out. What on earth was my heart trying to tell me? Any instinct was being drowned out with fears and doubt, paralysed by what I’d come to know as social norms. I could do this, but what if? Where would that take me? Would I be able to live? What am I even interested in?
By the end of the ten days I hadn’t reached any conclusions. It was a friend of mine who suggested I become a photographer, just as we were landing into Gatwick. Throughout the summer I’d constantly been taking pictures. My incessant need to take pictures was just something I had always done. It was something I loved. Perfect. My mind was made up.
I turned on my phone to call my parents to arrange to tell them what I was planning on doing, but my voicemail beeped at me that I had a message. It was my old housemate from university asking me to give her a call urgently. She was calling to tell me that my friend, Adam, had died.
He had died of a very rare heart condition whilst fishing in the US. His heart was too big, which didn’t surprise me at all; he was one of the kindest people I knew. From the moment he’d left uni, Adam had followed his oversized heart, traveling and working abroad, living life as it should be lived.
He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him and I knew then that I had to endeavour to live my life in the same way. You only get one and you’ve got to make the most of it, set yourself free and do something you love. You never know what’s round the corner.