Of course, the decision did not come easily or all of a sudden. I was raised by a single mother, who was an artist by profession and calling. She was great at painting, but only few did manage to earn a living with arts during the dissolution of the USSR and in the 90s. She had to take odd jobs: painting a sign for a shop, making a renovation or drawing portraits of café visitors at a request of an acquainted café manager. She had a commission one day, and none on the other, which meant that we had some food in the refrigerator for the moment and then had to eat bread and fried onion in the days to follow. I was a child then, but the dread of such existence did not ease off for a couple of decades. Bad in itself, this way of living was against social norms, which made the situation even worse. While stability was the main value during the Soviet time, it was overtaken by greed for money in the 90s. Anyone who did not fit could be easily called losers and drag out their losers’ existence. I recollect that my mum was advised to take a job of a saleswoman in a shop. This job would imply steady paycheck and stealing a little on the side – making the initial capital, so to speak. She rejected these proposals.
And then I got a significant depressive disorder, which lasted for more than two years, and burnout. A frantic pace of work over many years, starting from the eighth grade at school, a huge responsibility, management of a team of almost thirty people, other family and personal concerns had gradually shattered my nerves and undermined my health. I could not grasp what was happening to me for a long time: I tried to restore my well-being by taking unpaid leaves, escaping for rest to other countries, excluding all energy-consuming activities, and adding more contact with relatives and close friends, but at some point I had to accept the new reality, take antidepressants prescribed by a psychiatrist and start psychotherapy. One of the most important resolutions taken during my psychotherapy was to leave my office job and quit running the wheel.
And I did it. I lost the stability and predictability of life and got worries and uncertainty. But I did not fall into poverty. At first glance, my income reduced, but I have got a lot of opportunities for short-term projects where I can work from home without regard for the “primary employer”. What is more important is that I now have a possibility of choosing what I want to do, what inspires me, what makes my heart beats with joy. I continue travelling around the world, going to bars with my friends and shopping. I have never regretted leaving my office job.
Yet I perfectly well realise that several factors made it possible. I am confident about my skills and have earned a certain professional reputation over 25 years, which helps me remain competitive; and I admit that I learnt all this at my office jobs, which gave me an infinitely useful experience.