Five weeks ago, I became quite unemployed from my full-time job.
Thankfully, the redundancy was more than ample, and it cured a number of problems and also helped in other areas.
For the period, my goal was to write. Research and write. Research and write. Exercise, lose a little weight and reset my health somewhat.
Until a new job came to pass, my time was to be spent concentrating on that.
Initially, the aim was to find a job that would tie things over until early next year, but by the second week away from my old office, I found that it wasn’t missed at all. My stress levels had decreased significantly, my sleep was much better as I was no longer waking up in the middle of the night in a blind terror and I was no longer having internal panic attacks.
Why on Earth would I put myself through that again?
Upon finishing secondary school in Ireland (many, many years ago), I became heavily involved with music and art, while also putting words to paper. I remember being told many times, by many people that I “should study something sensible to fall back on, just in case things don’t work out.”
The people who passed on such advice may have meant well, but many years on, I wish I had the strength to tell all of those people to get f**ked. From there, I studied chemistry and physics, but it really wasn’t my forte at all and dropped out long before the end.
Eventually, I completed a business course that probably didn’t challenge in the way that it should have and quickly found employment, whereby each day ticked by and with it, so did the years. Alas, the dutiful thing was done and for a long, long time, emptiness followed and swam beneath me.
With the passing of time, I became one of those people who would chat quickly with colleagues in the kitchen as we took both time and tea and professed with a forced smile that “it’s nearly Friday, here comes the weekend…”
It rankled. Why would I wish my life away in such a manner, disregarding five-sevenths of the week? It all seemed so absurd, defeatist and sad.
But truth be told, as long as I was not being challenged, I was quite happy to toe the line and be content to keep people happy and not to rock the boat. Not rock the boat. Just go about your business, do you what you need to do, and everything will fall into place. Or so someone, somewhere says.
While I never quite believed that deep down and never quite believed that I would fall or had fallen into that pattern, life’s dull reality had swallowed me up entirely.
From 2011, my weekends had become somewhat different. Leading up to that time, I was doing a few things on the first version of this website, which – at that time – was more of a fansite for Formula One and other single-seater categories.
Back then, my home was this horrid little houseshare in the East End of London – one of those converted flats, that started out as medium sized three-bed, but ended up getting converted into a five-bedroom property, but with no living space. At its worst, there were six complete strangers living in this place, that was little more than a bed for filth.
The bedroom was about ten feet long and five feet across and the bed itself left just enough spare room for a shelf, a wardrobe and a door that didn’t quite open fully. In addition to this, the window frame was broken, so if you wanted to open it on a hot day, you had to jar it open with a wooden plank.
Digressing slightly, but when living at that place, the one constant was a Zimbabwean chap called “Bruce”. Now I never ever knew Bruce’s surname, nor am I sure if Bruce was even his first name, for the chap never received any mail and he always refused to tell us anything about his past.
He had passed himself off as a cowboy builder and one evening, the pipe under the kitchen sink broke after years of neglect. Suffice to say, his solution of trying to patch it up with sodden toilet roll and chewing gum was not entirely successful.
Anyway… after a period of posting small interviews with drivers from F3, one evening, I received an e-mail out of the blue from the British F3 office encouraging me to apply for media accreditation.
And thus, in March 2011, I was on my way to Monza, with no real clue or concept. The learning curve, as always, in that first year was very steep, but apart from getting lost and stranded in Milan on that trip, things went well.
Each race weekend, whether it Formula One, WEC, DTM, Blancpain, Formula 3 became a release – an opportunity to not just relax professionally and apply my skills, but also to release the haggard nerves of the working week. That work was coming my way just made that feeling better.
Sitting in the commentary box was the icing on the cake and one that I thoroughly enjoy. But it wasn’t just about covering motorsport; this was about making the most of myself, whatever the subject.
Mistakes have also been made, little missteps that one can regret, but also learn from – that’s life. If you don’t go over the line sometimes, then you may never know where you truly are.
These chances don’t come easily or without merit. For all those who want to take the easy steps, who want others to “study something sensible to fall back on, in case it doesn’t work out,” be the one who says “actually no, I’m going to do it my way.”
And that is something you will never regret.