At 26 years old I was a home owner and a successful business owner. I bought my first house at the age of 19, I lived alone and I was earning enough money to have a good life, pay the bills and not go without. I did work hard, I was a barber and I was a good one.
I built my career up and eventually opened my own barbershop. It was something I had wanted to do for some time. I hunted for the perfect location and eventually found something that was exactly what I was looking for.
It took 4 weeks of working days and nights to get the shop in a fit state, including repainting elaborate wrought iron staircase railings. I got on my hands and knees, sanded and stained the wooden floors, I slept there a few times just so I could start fixing it up as soon as I woke up. I went to car boot sales early on the weekends to find some interesting things and furniture to put in the shop.
The shop itself had a log fire, which I think, still to this day it was the only barbershop to have a log fire. I was given an original red chesterfield sofa, it was worn but in perfect form for the vibe of the shop. I had tears of tiredness and frustration when I needed help but no one was around. I had friends bring me coffee from the 24 hour McdDonalds and sit with me during the night for company, we would have breaks and sit in front of the burning log fire and chat the night away, it was cosy and warm and it already felt like home. While it was stressful I certainly found out who my friends were.
Sometimes it felt like I was completely alone, but as soon as I let out a plea for help, I had the same few people rush to lend a hand.
When the shop was almost finished I spent hours delivering leaflets to the local houses and businesses, offering a discount for their first haircut. I had a mad rush for the last 24 hours to get the last few bits done and around 2 in the morning myself and a good friend were putting up the shop sign!
Finally the shop was open and I made it my mission to be the best, and most well known barber in the city. I went to every event you could think of, business events, charity dinners, charity pub quizzes, I connected with other local businesses and eventually people knew who I was and what I did. My reputation was great and everything was going to plan.
My next mission was to conquer the industry. I took my networking further afield and even though I was tight for money because of the new business I travelled to network with some of the greatest barbers in the U.K. I entered competitions and was voted in the top 10 barbers in the U.K. in the 2013 British Barbers awards. I was approached and asked to feature in trade magazines, I drank with some of the top names in the industry and when I went to the barber shows and seminars people knew who I was.
This went exactly as I had planned. Yes I had a crazy schedule, yes it was tiring… yes it was tough at times, but I was having the time of my life and it was exactly where I wanted to be…until everything came crashing down suddenly!
I fell pregnant after having only been with my partner for 3 months…and in a 200 mile long distant relationship. When I was just 21 years old I was I told I wouldn’t be able to have children without medical intervention, so this was quite literally a miracle baby. I was now faced with a huge decision… do I go through with this?
Of course it was a fairly easy one to make, but I lived alone, was living a great life, didn’t want for anything… but also I was the only one who could do what I do. Who would run the shop when I was having the baby? I didn’t earn anything unless I was at work, who would pay my bills? I had 2 weeks to decide whether I was going to give notice on the lease of my shop!
So I did! I was going to sell the business, rent out my house and move from Exeter, where I had lived all my life, and move 200 miles away to Brighton where I would live with my partner and become a united family.
It was not, at all plain sailing, just the process of renting out the house was a nightmare alone. Not to mention my partners dad passing away the exact weekend I was hauling all my stuff from Exeter to Brighton. By this time I was 20 weeks pregnant, half way, and I had every bad side effect pregnancy can give you, sickness, back pain, hip pain, SPD, fatigue, I hated every minute of it.
They say moving house, having a baby and marriage are the 3 most stressful things you will ever do in life…well, thank fuck we weren’t getting married that’s all I can say, I think that would have probably pushed me over the edge.
Obviously we had the funeral to organise and plenty of trips back down to Devon to sort out things for my partners mum. We had many many many ups and downs, we fell out, at times we felt like everything was getting on top of us, I couldn’t get any work… because turning up to an interview with a pregnancy bump doesn’t go down too well!
This was, the first time since I left home at the age of 17 that I had to completely rely on someone else for EVERYTHING! And I mean everything, I should have had income from the rental of my house however the tenant kept paying late and eventually I had to ask her to leave because she was putting me into mortgage arrears. Just another bit of stress to add to the mix!
Going from having such a hectic life down to having nothing to do every day killed me, my mood dropped, I hated waking up every day, I was fat and hormonal and I had nobody to even have a conversation with from 7am until 6:30pm. I was incredibly lonely and felt so isolated.
Eventually Elvis came along, this little human that I had to now look after, on my own, every single day. The nearest coffee shop was a 2 mile walk away so I used to do that 2 or 3 times a week just to get me out.
Now when Elvis was about 8 months old I decided to use this opportunity to have a career change, I had been thinking about it for some time, since I moved pretty much. Previous to the pregnancy I was a bit of a gym addict and spent any down time in the gym weight lifting and at home prepping meals!
Since Elvis was born (3 years ago now) I have completed my diploma in level 3 personal training, several other related qualifications and am just going through my strength and conditioning level 4, with the aim to coach sports teams and athletes. I work part time for a leisure company as a studio coordinator and also work on my own PT profile and business, Elvis is in child care 2 days a week when I go to work and the rest of the time I’m a full time parent whilst I’m doing my own stuff from home.
I live a very different life to the one I had a few years ago, but I live in a beautiful village, my relationship is solid, I have an adventurous young boy who wants to get involved with everything, I have a nice home and we travel the continent in a camper van when we have a spare weekend.
I am still full of ambition and want to raise my profile as a coach within the local area, and eventually industry, but I know as things stand this will be a much slower process than before because I don’t just have myself to think about anymore. Childcare is costly and we don’t have the luxury of family near us to help out.
Do I regret giving up everything and stepping into a world of unknown? Not at all! Would I do it all over again? Definitely…will I? NO. One child is enough, however in years to come I might want to look at a different career path, I love what I do now but I would never rule anything out.
If anything this experience has proven that when things drastically have to change for whatever reason it is just the beginning of new opportunities, a new life, new good times, new goals and most of all more knowledge and life lessons!
Thanks for reading! Do you have a big, life changing decision you need to make? Let me know!