Life since leaving my corporate job

If you would have told me a year ago that one day the title of my blogpost would be ‘Life since leaving my corporate job 12 months ago’ – I would have told you that you are completely MAD! 

Who in their sober mind leaves a job that provides security and benefits such as a medical aid, retirement contributions and reserved parking? Did I mention that the job also provided a title that gave me an ‘influence’, status and good standing in society? The position/office I held scored me invites to various social events on the corporate calendar and countless opportunities to express my opinions. I had social capital, or so I thought!

As if my audacity to leave a good paying job was not enough, I left my corporate job during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when people were experiencing salary pay cuts, retrenchments, businesses going under and a sluggish economy. Mine was to build my business regardless of everything happening because I am passionate about empowering people with financial skills. How BOLD! 

Okay, enough about the melodrama, emotional and long wounded intro to the blogpost… get to the point TKay!

1st August 2021, I officially step into my beautiful office in Maseru West – ambitious, full of dreams, but nervous. I am finally my own boss – reporting to no one, with full autonomy over my life and time. Though this was a bliss, what I didn’t realise at the time was the responsibility I had to source the business, get sales because rent, my salary and other expenses had to be paid thirty days later. Yooooh, the days fly by so quickly towards month end and there is NOOOO human resource officer responsible to process salaries !

My reasons for writing this blog and the few that will follow is to document my transition from corporate, share the mistakes made and lessons I keep learning. My hope is that these blogposts will paint a clear picture of life post-employment, which will differ from person to person. The goal is to help anyone planning to transition from their corporate job to prepare financially and mentally; plus, there isn’t enough content available from people who look like us, so here goes…

a) Struggling with the transition

Though it took almost nine months to accept and admit this to myself, I struggled with transitioning from corporate to self-employment. I had held onto my previous job title and everything it came with – including the lifestyle (which I’ll discuss below). Shortly after leaving corporate, I was confronted with a cocktail of emotions – denial, anger, despondency, envy and sadness that I bottled up and couldn’t openly speak about. Being the ‘lifestyle enthusiast’ I am, I struggled with the reality of NOT being invited to various events because I no longer had the ‘job title’. I slowly sank into a depression… which I’ll unpack later. Seeing former colleagues and friends posting on social media, with hashtags that I used religiously on every post left me feeling irrelevant – a ‘has been’. Furthermore, though I had created a beautiful office for myself, the loneliness consumed me. I missed the office interactions, laughter in corridors, meetings that seemed boring, office gossip and odd emails from human resources – yes, internal comms.

b) Struggling with the lifestyle change

Lifestyle… where do I begin ?

I still wanted the lifestyle – the salary, but without reporting to anyone.

For months after leaving my corporate job, I struggled to make any lifestyle changes required. I still wanted to be “TKay, the socialite” seen at every event, dressed to the night. I wanted to travel, eat out, buy new clothes, and keep up, hanging on to who I used to be. I thought I was good at managing ‘peer pressure’ but evidently I was not. Declining invitations seemed hard, even though I knew I couldn’t really afford. To still feel relevant, I’d go out and spend money on a night out, using my savings at times . 

The reality that I would NOT receive a salary on the twentieth day of every month also hadn’t sunk in . I struggled with letting go of the ‘corporate TKay” who spent money knowing a salary was coming and embracing “TKay the self-employed” guy who had to save for rainy days (and they come hard in entrepreneurship) – despite having previously preached this to other business owners. The guilt of not practicing what I preach consumed me… am I a fraud???

c)Experiencing extreme loneliness

When the reality that I could not afford to attend every social event or go out as I used to hit, I forced myself to work on my business – usually a good thing right? Except in my case, I buried myself in work, hoping it would distract me. I felt very lonely when I could not join friends on nights out, trips or other lifestyle gatherings. In conversation with some family and friends, I also realised that they could not relate to the challenges that self-employed people or entrepreneurs experienced. Having worked in corporate for many years, I knew many people in this space and some couldn’t get it – I do not blame them. I felt unheard, misunderstood and my frustrations with self-employment were pilling. I suffered in silence; I cried behind closed doors but kept a smile in public. This is the life I chose for myself, right?

d) Am I cut for business?

I’ve written about the imposter syndrome in previous blogposts and I often speak about it on social media and my speaking engagements. Did it not show me flames post leaving my corporate job? Though I had a clear business plan, I had my fair share of imposter syndrome moments. I struggled with defining my value proposition and pricing my services. I struggled – borderline becoming desperate for any business when you see months go bye i.e., November to February without generating enough sales and bills are due. Each quote request for services gave me a lot of anxiety because I did not want to lose the deal – did I price correctly? Can I deliver on this? Am I deserving of this opportunity?

I compared myself to many people in business regardless of the industries. My comparison disregarded how many years they had been in business, the industry, size of the business or challenges they faced. I second-guessed myself with each conversation because I had not really found my own rhythm or had enough self-confidence. 

So, here I am 12-months later – many mistakes made, insane feelings of inadequacy, sadness, judgement, and sleepless nights of fighting the imposter syndrome, what lesson have I learnt? 

In my next blogpost, I will unpack the coping mechanisms and strategies I’ve adopt to manage the transition. Stay tuned for the next blogpost… 

Love, light and wellness.

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