For the first couple of weeks after I left corporate life when people said to me, ‘Wow, you are taking a big risk,’ I was hard pressed not to flick my hair and smile smugly. Six weeks in, finally nanny-less, juggling fulltime care of two small children with writing in the evenings (and sandwiching in work on a new startup that my sister and a friend are launching back in the UK), I feel a little less self-assured about the whole thing. Indeed, when an old colleague phoned me the other day as I wheeled my kids around our local supermarket, grimacing at the cost of out-of-season fruit, and spoke at some length about the risk I was taking, I almost had to reach for a paper bag!
The great stuff, like having my three year old say to me, ‘I love spending lots of time with you don’t I Mummy,’ or watching my one year old get better and better at walking – all the small things that make up knowing and being part of all the parts of their days, is balanced by a growing nervousness. My missing salary is more conspicuous with each passing week (and I must say my leaving work just in time for Christmas does not go down as my most strategic move), and frankly caring for two small children through the day is even more exhausting than going into the office, and certainly every bit as labour intensive - not much has changed on that score, I am still working well into every evening. Then, there is the fact that now that I am not just talking about giving up my corporate self to pursue the career I so desperately want to succeed at, I have left myself with only two potential endings: the one which reads, ‘I just haven’t given it a go yet,’ has vanished, and now I simply have success or failure ahead of me. Frankly, it is terrifying.
When I used to act at school, or even more recently when I present with work, I can only ever conquer my nerves by distancing myself from the reality of the situation; I believe now I need to not think about what I am doing too much, and just keep doing it! I have a sunny Christmas in Sydney ahead of me and my parents flying out to spend it with us. I was lucky enough the other day to have an agent give me some really great advice about things to think about with my manuscript before submitting it to her for consideration in the new year. It needs to be head down, tunnel vision for me now, or else I fear I might just find myself walking back through the doors of my office in early February – and I feel very sure that that would be a bad thing. Not only would my kids be crushed, I would be; to go back to seeing them an hour a day now that I have realized how much I was missing is a horrible thought. But more than that, I think it would be very, very bad for my own self to do that. Even writing this I am reminding myself that now I have gone through the hard bit of ripping the plaster off by turning my back on it all, I need to just grit my teeth and keep it off - and hold onto the conviction that I must, must, keep after my dream.