January 31, 2022

#ThoughtSpace: The Plunge into Entrepreneurship

A couple of years ago, as the outside world looked on, they thought I had landed my dream job. I had been earning more than I anticipated and a lot sooner. Except behind the scenes, I was bored, unfulfilled and miserable. In fact, I realised, I had made a mistake leaving a previous job in an environment which I thrived in, and in which I was deeply fulfilled.  At that point in my life, I learnt the lesson first-hand that, “money and status does not make you happy”. For others perhaps, having a “cushy” well paid job with the ability to purchase material things is the pinnacle of success, not for me, I have always been about changing the world, it’s my calling.

Being brought up under difficult circumstances, I know what poverty and struggle is, I would not trade my upbringing for the world, but I am also, deeply afraid of poverty.  We are taught to “get a job” and “work hard”. This is also all I had also been working towards, this skewed version of the world and how we should live, centred on landing a “stable job”. As each day grew, it became clearer and clearer to both my incredible employer and I, that the role and the tasks were not quite aligned with my personality, vision and drive.

I tolled with the idea of leaving, but never did, for several months. The reality is that I also live paycheque to paycheque and have bills to pay, no financial safety net and there was nothing yet on the radar. I started applying for jobs, interviewed for a few, but nothing had come through and the next step was not clear. I decided to hang in as much as I could, to survive for a few months after leaving.

When I finally had the courage to resign and take that step, my father who was still around at the time, had called me. He had been unemployed for a large chunk of his life and was concerned that I was throwing it all away. This was the first time in my entire life, my father was concerned about my life choices and had advised me, “You cannot just leave, this is not a good idea Shaki, you need an income”. After this call, I decided to hang on a little more.  

I used to wake up each morning, watching tonnes of “Jay Shetty”, inspired and guided by the video, “Build a life not a resume”. Eventually, I knew that it was time to resign, I saved for a few months and it was time to take a plunge and a huge risk into the abyss. My superior and I eventually had a discussion and to my surprise, she smiled and all knowingly said, “I knew this since I arrived here, you are all about blue skies (creative or visionary and unconstrained by practicalities) and about to achieve so much more, I believe in you”.  Upon my departure, we had our last Sushi together and she had given me Michelle Obama’s book (Becoming) and the note read, “This is how I see your journey and what you’re becoming”.  

I had finally taken the plunge, I had left, and trust me it was not an easy journey post this decision. Tell you more about it in next month’s #ThoughtSpace.

Dr Shakira Choonara is an award-winning public health practitioner, and pens #ThoughtSpace with a touch of inspiration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Tweet: @ChoonaraShakira

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