Pave your own path.
Written by Ani Priyo
A bit over a year ago, I was an assistant manager in a hospitality job that I’d been at close to four years. I’ve been in the service industry roughly sixteen years, so when offered a position up the ladder, it seemed the natural progression.
Perks: Higher income, Good on my CV, a new level of professional respect.
Huge Con: It was not my passion.
My joy has always lay in creativity. Not giving time to those aspirations had a major impact on my happiness and overall well being. I was miserable and it created a toxic environment in both my work and personal life. I realised it was time for a big change.
Now, don't get me wrong, changes are hard. They turn your world upside down, inside out and on its head; but it was a choice I desperately needed to undertake.
Below are some of the decisions I’ve made towards living my best life.
For me the very first step was being unemployed and yes, it was really scary.
I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old and the thought of not having regular income, terrified my bank account and me. Despite this, I badly needed out of a job that was consuming me. I needed some me-time to figure out my next avenue. With that, I handed in my resignation, and instead became a permanent fixture in my local library for several months.
The second step was accepting failure.
In under a month of knowing me, you’ll discover my passion and drive is in acting. I love it. I live for it. I’m constantly studying different courses; looking for freelance work and I currently juggle three agents. It’s exhausting just writing it.
Acting is a career that fluctuates immensely, and more often than not, you don’t get the job.
Accepting rejection and failure, the possibility of, “not making it”, is the biggest hurdle an actor must cross. Taking the plunge into such an uncertain, insanely competitive career was extremely daunting. Even with this being an inevitable part of the job, I can 100% say, I’m a happier person for it.
The next step was trying something new.
Being an introvert, I’ve not always been super enthusiastic about attempting new things. In high school I was always really interested in art (sketching etc) but my lack of self esteem and confidence stopped me from trying.
After quitting my job, and wanting to fill spare time, I decided to look up short courses. I found one teaching realistic illustration; I was ready to explore my interest. Just quietly, I may have over compensated that night with a few glasses too many of vino to help with the nerves, but I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying it. In fact, I now frequently sketch in my down time. It’s a great activity to switch off my brain, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or overworked. I just needed to bite the bullet, swallow my pride and try something new.
In the last year I’ve also started properly skating (“Female skaters rule!”), learning the general U.S accent (#acting) and training in mental health first aid.
The options are limitless.
The last, is not necessarily a step but a way of life; Helping others.
Now I’m not saying everyone has to save the world. Not all of us have time to go to every rally, protest etc because we have kids, busy work schedules and just general life commitments, we’re human after all.
A good place to start is finding something little to do to help.
Once a month I do a shift in a kitchen for the needy. It’s not a huge commitment, like you, my schedule more often than not is packed, but it’s something. Another good option is giving blood if you are able.
Or, it doesn't even need to be a physical act. Compliments are a good start. Check in on friends, co-workers, relatives that have been having a hard time. All of it matters. Kindness, acknowledgement and empathy, go a long way. I can guarantee from lived experience, if you are kind to others, you will be a happier person.
Currently, I do still work part-time in hospitality. Unfortunately, we’ve all got bills and rent to pay. An important factor in deciding to take my new job was that it had to stay in the realm of helping others, regardless of industry. Lucky for me, I found a job at a social enterprise cafe, STREAT, working closely with at-risk kids, training and equipping them with the skills to get jobs in the hospitality industry. It’s incredibly meaningful to me.
So, I urge you. Don’t settle. Find meaning. And most importantly, be kind.
And Live your best life!