So, in 2018 I write a blog on this website and then, within a couple of weeks, I find myself working as an Account Director at a very fancy and successful agency.
To be honest, I was incredibly flattered to be thought of for the role, and having gone through interviews and passing Account Director aptitude tests (gaining a 92% test score, which gave me a boost, especially considering in the middle of one of the tests, I had to rearrange childcare for my 1 year old as the day overran) I felt very proud to be made part of such a great agency.
The following 10 months proved a great reminder of why I love creative work so much. I met some amazing people and worked on some huge high-street brands. But – yes you knew there would be one – but, juggling the long hours, with a deployed military husband and a one year old proved too much of a compromise for me.
As you know, I spent a lot of time, energy and a smattering of heart-ache to get my little boy and the work / life balance seemed more than a little off. My side of the see saw rarely touched the ground and so I hardly ever got to play on the swings or slide. Instead I had to sit up there, legs dangling as I watched others play with my son, and that hurt. So it was time to say goodbye to the agency. I had no regrets; I’d worked with some amazingly talented people, on some superb projects and the leaders there were so supportive of me. They just weren’t in a position to flex in the way my family and I needed.
Over to life in an equine charity. Wow, what a ride! Pun intended. As I type I’ve two months left of my notice to serve and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. Again, so many incredible things have been experienced and learned. I’ve regained my confidence in writing and designing, and reignited my love for leadership. I dare write that I’ve found myself to be a pretty darn good leader as it happens. My team are brilliant. Like me, they meet challenges with gusto and determination. They don’t shy away from something new, and are not afraid of failure; I’m mindful to instil that in them. Being in the arena is essential for great creativity and successful relationships.
And why are you leaving I hear you think? Well, all this regaining and reigniting has left me wanting more. When I started in 2018 I thought the role enough, but it’s not. I want more, and I’m not afraid to pursue this ‘more’. What this ‘more’ looks like, I’m not so sure, but I know I want it. And I want it in a way which enables me to deliver the high standards I believe in, whilst still being a great mother and partner to my military husband.
Now, should I be writing this? Is this career suicide? I flippin’ well hope not. Nope; I know not. If anything this pandemic, we’re currently rattling around in, has taught us, is that the lines between work and life are become more twisted and blurred by the day. Speaking up about being a woman who wants a flexible life to be the best she can be in all spheres is essential right now. We’ve moved forward so much with home working and understanding the juggling women and men do with their home lives and we mustn’t go back. I am embracing this, and so in 2021 I’ll be doing ‘my thing’ again.
What this thing looks like, I’m not so sure, but whether I go on another brick laying course, start glass blowing, begin freelance brand strategy work or join a forward thinking agency or brand’s workforce, I’m not only ready, I’m excited. An amazing coach I’ve recently worked with, named Sarah Barker has reminded me about what makes me, me … me. She said on our last call, having helped me come back and break down the restrictions that military life and parenthood can often hold over us: “Alex, you do you. Keep colouring outside of the lines, in your own palette.”
And so I will. 2021, make a place at the table for me; I’m coming …
This is written in memory of a very special four-legged friend, the majestic Ellie, who passed away on 1st April, and to two-leggeds Gerry and Evelyn who I have also lost this 2020 lockdown. I miss and love you.