a new life

I’ve just a week left to go before I leave my job of nearly 15 years. How do I feel? Terrified.

 The emotional turmoil of whether or not to choose redundancy over a post at the organisation that was unlikely to suit me or my family commitments was agonising.

 The response from friends was overwhelming: leave and leave now.

 Even from those who were choosing to stay there. When I asked why they were not choosing to take their own advice, the responses were mixed and not always in tune with the words they had spoken to me.

 Fear seemed to be a major factor: fear of the unknown, fear that they wouldn’t get another job. These are understandable – and I had the same feelings.

 They loved their job. Same here: I wouldn’t have spent almost 15 years in the same place if I didn’t connect with what I did.

 I’m not criticising my friends for choosing their route and staying: I’d have done the same if I’d have assurances from management about the jobs I could have done, the hours and (crucially) the shifts I would have been expected to work.

 No assurances were forthcoming. At the last minute (just minutes before the deadline), I ticked the box that was to change me life and took the document to work.

 I took the plunge and am going. Next week.

 I’ve cleared most of my desk and but still need to leave forwarding emails to contacts.

 I’ve read counselling notes (largely ineffective), tried to keep motivated at work (extremely difficult), done the grieving (that surprised me more than anything), been angry (even though I “chose” to go).

 Now I’m in the final stages.

 But then what?

 Change is a difficult concept for me. I can embrace some changes easily and readily and others leave me dumbstruck.

 I can’t rationalise why I feel so confused. Am I afraid to admit that I might define myself by what I do, rather than who I am?

When meeting someone new and I’m asked about me, I don’t tell them about bringing up my children, my voluntary work or my life. I tell them that I’m a journalist. That is my status, but is that me, the person?

 While it’s true that I am a journalist, I am much more than that. I’ve just got to learn to remember that after next week.

11 thoughts on “a new life

  1. Jo Ind

    Hooray you’ve blogged!!! Hooray hooray! How the Hell are you managing to move so quickly? There’s no stopping you in this new life of yours. You’re up and running with the wind behind you.

  2. Paul Groves

    Nothing prepares you for making such a change. All I can say is that even though I still think I had the best job on the paper, I’m so glad I gave it up.
    The last two and a bit years have been a blast. The list of reasons why is very long and more importantly still growing.
    There is still a lot to be said for working for a paper. But there is an awful lot more to be said for the freedom, flexibility and fun of freelancing.

  3. Michael

    I’ve been in the same job for thirteen years; I know that I really should be keeping my options open and looking for new opportunities, but the thought of ever leaving terrifies me. Hats off to you. 🙂

  4. catherinebray

    Ouch. This brings back memories.

    It was only after 2 years, not 20, but I remember working out my final month after the film magazine I was on at the time announced that the issue we were working on would be the last. It was a strange experience, part wanting to do well as that would be my last work for the title, part not caring because I was so cross with management.

    If you’re interested in freelancing for channel4.com/4talentcentral let me know…

  5. Jonathan Walker

    Great post, and I think you are right that we (we people, not just we journalists) tend to define ourselves by what we do. I hope you keep us up to date with how it all turns out for you!

  6. Nick Booth

    5 years ago I left the BBC after a similar commitment. Loved the organisation, loved the team work, loved my friends.

    I still miss that intense cameraderie but I’m happier in my work now than every before. It took me a good 18 months to even begin to figure out what I really wanted to do next. Whilst I was trying to sort that out in my head (and fortunately waiting for some great offers of help and work) I earnt money in ways unrelated to journalism and broadcast. I just needed some breathing space from something as intense as daily media.

    Good luck.

  7. Fraser Thomson

    Good decision Jayne, believe me. I’m two years into my “new” life and have not regretted a day of it since leabving the same organisation. There is so much more out here in the real, unblinkered and, yes, not quite so cossetted world. It can be intimidating but with hard work and a little help from friends you can more than get by. Let me know if I can be of any help.

  8. Linda

    It’s no wonder you are confused and grieving – your whole life is being turned upside down. But you WILL do brilliantly. Like the others here, I have to say I haven’t regretted working for myself as opposed to a paper, and it is for reasons far more meaningful than what I get up to at work – more to do with how it fits in with family and all the rest of it. Like Fraser above, I am at the end of an email/phone etc if you want to have a whinge or a moan or anything else, sober or otherwise, you I mean, not me, I have never been a big drinker. xx

  9. Becky Rasmussen

    Reading this made me reminiscise about our time together on the Post. I had a great few years working with you and I totally understand your feelings. It must have been a terrifying decision to make as you’ve been with the company for so long. Letting go of that security as well as a great bunch of friends is not an easy thing to do but be confident in your future because you’re a bloody great journalist! Good luck Jayne.

  10. Peter Bacon at thejazzbreakfast.wordpress.com

    Gosh, there are a lot of your ex-colleagues out here! And we all seem to be pretty jolly. I didn’t really make the choice – it was made for me – but I never even went through the anger phase. It seemed at the time, and in retrospect it seems even more so now, that the appropriate analogy is between the somewhat fetid air of an enclosed and much lived in space and the fresh air outside. Yes, it might feel more secure inside but feel that wind on your face! Look at that view! It’s a liberating experience. I am convinced you will thrive out here.

  11. Rhona Ganguly


    I really do believe that you’ve made the right decision. Seeing as I have two days left before my redundancy begins, I too can relate to your identity issues.
    What do I say when people ask what I do for a living? The thing to remember is that there really is more to us than the fact we are journalists.
    As uncertain as the future seems right now, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
    So let’s embrace it!


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