They first talked to me when I was twenty-one.
I had just finished University and while scrambling for a first job to make a dent in my student loan, stumbled into Sales.
Painfully shy and introverted, I was completely at odds with super salesmen around me who seemed to thrive off competition and stress, exuding confidence and swagger.
Three months later I was made redundant. I didn’t question management’s decision or fight my corner. I meekly accepted that I wasn’t good enough and my fledgling career hit the skids.
Soon after, and facing bleak prospects for finding a new job, I picked up the pen and revisited a dormant passion for the first time since my teens – writing.
Shortly after my redundancy, I tried sales again – determined to work on myself and prove my worth to employers, convinced that the necessary skills that separated myself from the best agents were transferable and could be learnt. Soon, I found my feet again. More responsibility slid onto my plate in return for a higher salary. However, the greater commitment and longer hours soon encroached on the other part of me – the right-brain, creative thinking and imaginative side.
The unease I had felt with the persona I was supposed to project on the sales floor and on the phone, split me in two. Subsequent jobs continued to widen this divide, the dominant part of my day ruled by someone who wasn’t me – a Frankenstein creation of the best employees I had ever modelled, coupled with management’s expectations, all bundled into someone or something that would fulfil his duties diligently with almost machine like coldness.
The little naked flame which had sparked my passion during teenage years, was becoming harder to maintain in my twenties. I soon parked all idea of a writing career – pushing it into the realm of ‘some day’.
Many successful authors have managed to juggle their day job with writing. John Grisham was a lawyer. Stephen King was an English Teacher. Personally, I found the lack of satisfaction, or better said, apathy gleaned from my day job made my creative pursuits suffer.
My most productive spells came without stress of sales targets – free to exercise my imagination and allow ideas that had been seeded a decade earlier to finally grow and eventually thrive with the attention that I showered on them.
The best thing I ever did in my twenties was travel. Meeting new people, different cultures, seeing the world and disconnecting from the Corporate World, albeit for a while, was a wake-up call that helped restore much needed balance to my life.
Currently I find myself in Medellin, Colombia working on my debut novel –Pathfinders – which I first imagined over a decade earlier. Shortly after I was made redundant from my first job.
The characters I had created all those years ago, haven’t aged, although their creator has. Wiser, more sensitive to what makes him happier, and above all else, willing to listen to what that voice of inspiration now has to say.
image attributed Banksy street art (l8fi)