After doing Q&As for The Unfriendly Environmentalist‘s blog, for Mind the Gap Graduates‘ blog and for The Graduate Club, I thought I’d open up and give a brutally honest look on my journey to where I am now.
The silver lining of coronavirus
I know these words shouldn’t belong in a sentence together as Coronavirus has been truly devastating on the families affected, on the NHS and its workers and on everyone who has had to make sacrifices in order to keep each other safe. However, I can say the impact of coronavirus on my life has had a silver lining.
I’ve always struggled with knowing where I want my life to go. From not being sure about whether to go to University, to struggling to find a career path that was ‘me’. The thing with me is that I know exactly what I don’t want to do, but I struggle with knowing what I do want to do.
Here I was again, knowing exactly what I don’t want to do, but not really knowing what I do
So, here’s a little about me. I thought University wasn’t for me, so I finished school and got a job in a management programme at a department store. I lasted 3 weeks. I knew I didn’t want a career in retail. After hastily applying to Universities, I finished my 3 years studying Biology and thought I wanted to do a masters. I lasted 3 weeks. I knew I didn’t want a career in science. Here I was again, knowing exactly what I don’t want to do, but not really knowing what I do.
I was left feeling lost as to what my future holds and added to this was the pressure of feeling the need to move out of my parents’ house and move to London like my friends. Due to this, I found myself in a job that I didn’t enjoy. For me, it was a job to pay the London rent and pass the time until the weekend came. The people I met and the experience I gained will stick with me forever, which I am truly grateful for, however, I knew I was unhappy.
I remember breaking down in tears and telling her how miserable I felt
During this time, I was back at my parents one weekend. I was in the car with my mum and she asked how I was. I remember breaking down in tears and telling her how miserable I felt. I knew I needed to find something I was passionate about. I’ve always been a lover of skincare and cosmetics and have been making my own formulas from pressed glitters to hair and face oils. After being inspired by two young guys who have set up a hugely successful Australian skincare business selling clay masks, I thought what is their competitor in the UK? To me, it seemed like there was a gap in the market, and so the idea of PERLcosmetics was born. I brought the domain name, perlcosmetics.com, and set up my Instagram page, @perlcosmetics.
It wasn’t quite the start I had wanted for PERLcosmetics, I had so many ideas for the business but I was stuck in my 9-5 job and wasn’t in a position to leave job security to pursue this dream, damn adult life with rent and bills to pay! So, back to the 9-5 I went. But, I was tired of comparing my life to the lives of others. Thinking I was doing it wrong, asking myself ‘how are my friends living the life they want, in careers they enjoy?’. I felt so lost, again. Then, one day at work a colleague asked how I was and told me that I had lost the spring in my step. I’m usually a very charismatic, outgoing person, and this comment hit hard.
I knew I needed to seek help, and so I did just that and went to see a therapist
I knew I needed to seek help, and so I did just that and went to see a therapist. This isn’t my first experience of therapy; I’d been in therapy as a young teenager and also had a few sessions in 2018, however, I didn’t click with her, so I decided to try and work through things by myself. Safe to say this didn’t really work and it really is true what they say, finding a therapist is like finding a relationship. You need to click with the right one.
With this being my third stint in therapy and fortunately finding a therapist I really clicked with, I was finally able to work through and processes various issues. I learnt to be kinder to myself and to not put so much pressure on myself. I recommend to anyone, that if you are struggling in any way, your feelings are valid and that talking to a therapist will be a step in the right direction. Equally, if you have seen a therapist before and felt it didn’t help, note my point above that therapists are like relationships. You have to click with the right one.
The fear of the unknown, and what might happen next consumed me
During my time in therapy, I knew something needed to change. The thing is with change is that it can be difficult and scary to facilitate. The fear of the unknown, and what might happen next consumed me and that’s why I stuck doing something I knew wasn’t right for me. But, it was easier doing this than facing the unknown.
It was in January 2020 that I decided to get my act together and apply for new jobs, trying to find companies that were more ‘me’ and roles that I liked the look of. I got through to two final state interviews, with one being given to someone with more experience and the second being scheduled for April 2020. Finally, I thought my life was moving in the right direction.
I thoughtn “okay no biggie” it could be worse, then it got worse and I lost my job.
April comes, and the world is in the midst of a global pandemic. Coronavirus quickly took hold of the world, from what we saw on the TV, to what we spoke about to our friends and families. This also saw my final interview being postponed. I thought “okay no biggie” it could be worse, then it got worse and I lost my job. My contract which was due for renewal was cut, and I was given 4 weeks to work my notice period.
I was trying to keep it together. I put on a brave face and reminded myself that there were others in less fortunate situations than me, but it was difficult. Difficult to not think it was me that caused me to lose my job, not the virus. Difficult to not think, what if I had done something differently, if I had just tried to change my career sooner perhaps this may not have happened. My internal dialogue was so self-critical, it was exhausting. It’s as if I had gone one step forwards in getting my life on track, to five steps back after losing my job.
How am I going to find a new job in this uncertain climate? How will I pay my rent?
How am I going to find a new job in this uncertain climate? How will I pay my rent? These were all questions I was trying to figure out the answers to. However, rather than seeing this as a setback, I took what I’d learnt from my time in therapy, spun it on its head and used it as an opportunity to follow my dreams.
With no job and a lot of free time on my hands, I have now finally been able to fully focus my energy on setting up PERLcosmetics. I’ve had the time to research, to procure supplies and to design my own website from scratch. These are all things I simply would not have done, or could not have done, had I not have lost my job due to coronavirus.
If I can glean one thing from coronavirus, it’s that it’s given me that push to step out of my comfort zone
I feel like I’ve finally found something that is ‘me’. I’m being creative, I’m learning new skills and I’m now genuinely excited to wake up each morning to start a new day. What’s best, is that my hard work is going into something that others can benefit from. I want my brand to be about natural beauty, empowering our customers and giving them the confidence to glow in their skin.
I know there have been many sad realities of coronavirus, which is affecting lives in ways we couldn’t imagine and my heart really does go out to those people. But, if I can glean one thing from coronavirus, it’s that it’s given me that push to step out of my comfort zone.
Sometimes you just have to trust the process and I truly believe life has given me this opportunity to see what I can make of PERLcosmetics and finally follow a passion of mine.