by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
It is approximately 4 years and some months since I resigned from my corporate job to pursue my business dream. I remember the mixed emotions I had leading to that day and on that day. I recall also all the people I spoke to about it prior to; but on D-day, I made the decision alone. Four years later I see things differently and realize a lot of things were aligned for me to leave. It was time.
This article is not to beat down on traditional corporate employment; just to tell my journey. It may be familiar or not, but these are the things that make me believe corporate spewed me out:
1. In my first job, which I got only because I had a flair for fashion and a BCom degree, I was unsure about everything. I was only sure that I wanted to be in fashion, but my knowledge of the fashion business then hadn’t covered all the options available in the industry. Each time I had an appraisal, the question ‘where do you see yourself in 1 year or 5 years?’ came up. I literally kept quiet. The reason was, there I was being questioned by the fashion buying manager, and my answer was ‘to own a fashion design company’. I was fearful of telling her; thinking she would invest less in me because my ambitions for the future weren’t beneficial for her team. Even at this age, I understood corporate targets. And, I was also scared to admit this to myself. I was not ready; but this truth vs reality was causing me to cheat on my corporate career.
2. I was always late. Wait, wait, not that bad, but late! I was that employee who was always 5 to 15 minutes late. The most frustrating person to my manager! It is not enough to give a warning; but enough to breach the contract I signed. Then, I left the office after 6pm because of traffic, etc, blah blah blah. So, that poor manager in my second corporate job had a test in me. I can promise you, that people are early or on time for things they are passionate about - always!
3. This being late led to me rushing to work every morning. I think I collected R11000 worth of traffic fines in the 3 years I was there. In a Hyundai Getz…sigh! I lived in Honeydew and worked in Woodmead. I was getting a ticket every day. Simply because I woke up on time; left the house late and had to literally run in traffic to make the 8:15…which is late either way. See the trend?
4. In my last corporate job, I had no real friends. To the point that four years later, I am only in contact with maybe four of my former colleagues. These are the people who sat closest to me. In comparison to my first job, I still speak to a lot of those colleagues. I was losing the ‘want to be in a job’ slowly but surely. I didn’t relate to that office; didn’t feel the need to invest more time than I needed to in anything beyond what I signed to do.
5. I was depressed. At the end, the depression had progressed to boiling point. I recall a day where I woke up late, drove slowly for an hour to work. Got to the gate, turned around and told my boss I was sick and not coming in. I drove back home and slept all day. I simply did not want to be there anymore. Nothing had really changed at work; my boss was still the same frustrating person, the work the same, teams doing their work; but I had changed. I was simply tired. Corporate and I had to break up.
6. I got critically ill. Can you believe it? After all those steps, I’m still employed and pretending to work. My illness made me realize there was something scarier than being unemployed. And that was dying before giving my dream one try. Just one try. Nothing will make you move faster than that. I had to realize it was not that I hated being employed; it was that I was not meant to be employed at that moment in time. And do the necessary shift.
7. It is now four years later, I don’t miss being employed. The confirmed salary would be bliss of course; but I’m not sure if I am capable of the cost needed for that pay-slip.
Sometimes the truth is right in front of us; but other factors hold us back. The one thing I can promise you is if you stop fighting, your path will find you and force you to follow it. And if it is done well, the day you resign will be seamless. It will not be filled with anger, or fights, or anything; it will be accepted and that’s it. In the same breath, not all of us are meant for this journey; but this article can be applied to many other changes in life.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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