Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Letting Go of Your Safety Net

This blog post was written by guest blogger,Melanie Chisnall. Melanie is the owner/operater of Melanie also is a part time writer for She lives in Somerset West, South Africa. 

When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn't afford to go to university so I took off a gap year and worked at a frozen yogurt shop part time. Right after that I worked at a few companies doing a variety of admin-related jobs. I got bored and frustrated and often left before I'd even been there a year. That all changed when I turned 25.

By then I was working for a boss who didn't regard women in the highest light, and where having a lunch break was considered a weakness. I remember making myself physically ill some mornings just so that I didn't have to go in. Have you ever hated your job that much? It was honestly one of the most soul-destroying things I've ever gone through. When I started having regular anxiety attacks, couldn't care less about enjoying life or what I was eating, and took all my stress out on my husband every night, I decided enough was enough. Something drastic had to happen, so I quit. Just like that. Without another job lined up.

A few of my friends thought I was crazy – perhaps even a little selfish, but I felt like I was suffocating and this was my only means of escape. I remember speaking to my husband the night before resigning. I pleaded and promised to find something soon; to make it work somehow, some way. While working out my notice period, I decided I would start my own business from home. I made up gift hampers and surprise boxes and designed gift cards. I was in my element – doing something I loved and making some money. Unfortunately selling hand-made gift baskets in this economy wasn't – and still isn't – a financially smart idea. Two years later, with a heavy heart, I closed down my company and sold all my stock.

I don't see this as a failure though. I think I won so much during those two years that I will always look back on that time as my moment of triumph. As shy and introverted as I was, running a business – even a home-based one – took a lot of guts. It pushed me completely out of my comfort zone. I'd never driven on the highway because I'm a nervous driver. But when a hotel at the other end of town asked me to show them a couple of sample hampers, I had no choice. I remember having an incredible sense of relief and elevation on that drive. I also had to put aside my anxiety to do cold calling, and stop being the nice girl when suppliers gave me the run around. I was the 'Jill of all Trades' - social media manager, marketer, accountant, receptionist, gift designer, shopper, driver, and CEO. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but it was also hands down – the best.

Not having that safety net of a job lined up forced me to fly. It was literally a sink or swim situation.  We ate a lot of soup and beans on toast for the better part of that first year, but somehow we made it work. We were only married a year but we pushed through, even on the most trying of days.

There are so many things we can do that we don't think we're capable of. We're scared and have responsibilities, yes. But sometimes taking a risk and just giving it what you've got and having that faith, is going to be the difference between going nowhere slowly, and experiencing your biggest life-changing moment ever. I'm so grateful to that horrible boss for forcing me to experience something that changed the way I look at – and live – my life. It made me believe in myself and the fact that I could do something if I really put my mind to it. Not only that, but it also cemented this ongoing path on this incredible journey called marriage. We might not have been completely comfortable for quite a few months, but nothing can replace the emotional and constant cheerleader support from someone you love.

Sometimes letting go of that invisible safety net that surrounds you can take you to places you never imagined in your wildest dreams. We don't know what tomorrow will bring, so why not experience life to the fullest? Why not take a risk here and there and have something amazing to look back on one day? That's the way I look at life – I try and live it the way I'd want to remember it one day. What's holding you back from letting go of your safety net, and doing something that fulfills you and makes you realize your true potential? Believe, have faith, get the support of the person closest in the world to you, do your planning and research properly, and go for it! 

Melanie Chisnall
Post a Comment