Picking up the paddle…

About a year and a half ago, I was working full-time and feeling completely drained of energy and unhappy. My job was too much and not enough at the same time. I work for an excellent company, one that wins “best employer” every year. I have a good salary, benefits and adequate vacation time.

So what was the problem? For the few years before this time, my portfolio of responsibilities had been growing. I was at a point where I worked with five brand teams, constant product launches, onboarding new marketers frequently, managing multiple projects for each brand and responsible for two internal approval application systems: compliance, communications and training. The business was growing but my team was not. The pandemic came along and suddenly the thing that made my job tolerable and sometimes enjoyable disappeared. I really liked the people that I worked with and the social contact of going into the office: those connections with others.

While I was struggling emotionally during the lock-downs, cut off from my kids and colleagues, my ennui had been building prior to that time. For years, I had been exploring opportunities to move into other roles in the business. For many of these roles, I was told that I didn’t have the right experience. The HR teams globally developed a program for on-the-job development. I asked about applying for some of those roles. I was told by the team lead that these roles “were not for people in roles like mine” re: roles that were more than 100 per cent to capacity with no back-up. It became harder and harder to listen to the message the company was putting out about the opportunities for career development while I kept hitting road-blocks.
I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean and honestly, I didn’t want to keep treading water.

In the past when I’d met barriers, I told myself that I was lucky to work for such a good company and I explored other learning opportunities outside of business hours. I have certificates in teaching Pilates, Adult Education, Digital Marketing and even track cycling.

I had to do something more. After digging into the company’s leave policy, I found that I could request an education leave, unpaid, for up to a year. I applied and was accepted into a graduate program for Public Relations and Corporate Communications. It was a transitional time on my team and my new manager whole-heartedly supported me. When the managers told me that my leave was approved, I couldn’t hold back tears of relief.

Now, I’m enjoying a new routine, learning new skills and optimistic about my future. My self-confidence is returning and I’m not waking up at night thinking about the million things that “have to” get done or how long until the weekend. I’m happy now, where I am and with my choice. Our lives can be short I couldn’t spend another day waiting for 6 p.m., Friday, vacation time.

Why am I sharing this? One, I want anyone reading this to know that there’s a way to change direction if you find yourself drifting. You just need to figure out how to take hold of the paddle. Two, things tend to bounce around my brain until I let them out.
So, to anyone who isn’t loving where they’re at, pick up your paddle and steer yourself in the direction you would like to go. Even a couple strokes might help you to enjoy the journey a little more. xox


Published by Catriona

Creative visual artist specializing in graphic design, illustration and fine art (painting)

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