Quitting my job and leaving my comfort zone best decision ever

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
A student lies in a room on campus. The writer says varsity life, despite its challenges, has given her priceless validation that her previous working life simply did not. /Vathiswa Ruselo
A student lies in a room on campus. The writer says varsity life, despite its challenges, has given her priceless validation that her previous working life simply did not. /Vathiswa Ruselo

I had my life all planned out. Somewhere along the line I lost the paper I had sketched all the plans on, somewhere around the year 2010.

I then spent the next five years trying to find direction. I had two old cars, a beautiful collection of shoes and a great sense of humour.

I ate right and did not attend any of the gym sessions I had paid for over the years. I had debts the size of my annual income.

I was depressed and depressive.

Eventually, I suffered a nervous breakdown at work and became familiar with terms like convulsions, anxiety, involuntary spasms, medical boarding and disciplinary action.

A stint in a wheelchair, temporary blindness, a few days as a mute and about eight surgeries later, I knew my life had fallen apart!

Then one sunny day, the 30th of December 2015, I woke up with a resolution - resign from work and start afresh! This was five days after my payday and I was broke.

I feared that I would never recover from a loss of salary. However, I also knew that staying behind an office desk while my mental health crumbled was killing me.

So I quit and registered for a law degree at a university in my home province, with no solid plan, other than acing all my exams.

I was cast into a class of aspirant lawyers, most of whom were born the same year I matriculated.

I had to learn and accept that I am not at university to be a mother - and should refrain from parenting my peers. I had to focus on what brought me to varsity. my shot at a second chance in life and the possibility of corporate success thereafter.

So I have been sitting in the front row at every lecture and submitting all my work on time.

My ventures into academia accumulated a large tuition debt. I spent days praying that the Fees Must Fall movement would penetrate my institution.

I have always admired the spirit of youth in protest but have never been caught within arms' length of a struggle song. I am a short coward on six-inch heels, basically. I am not designed for dodging rubber bullets while wearing a yellow T-shirt for clear visibility.

This year, after a strenuous daily commute to campus, and exhausting my pension fund, I decide to move into the residence. At age 35, I was allocated a single bed in a room shared with a stranger.

I made a conscious decision that I would have a great relationship with my roommate. I couldn't imagine being confined in a room that small with someone I didn't like.

We developed a culture a cooking gourmet meals on a budget, having as much wine as our study schedule would allow and knowing when not to invade each other's tiny sanctuary.

A portion of our bathroom was demarcated as a pantry. A desk has become a kitchen table. I sleep next to a fridge and there is a hole on my bed. I sometimes knock on doors to request the volume of gqom and gospel play lists to be lowered so I can study.

I miss my friends and generally living around adults who frown at the sight of boxed wine.

I have since obtained a full bursary. I write for a living. I don't see my family as often and data bundles have become a luxury.

I was able to overcome my fear of failing my mother by not being able to provide for her. My parents survive on the little they earn from their pension. I am taking risks and living each day as it comes.

Last Friday, when our results were published, I discovered that I had again obtained distinctions for all my modules. No salary can replace that feeling!

For the first time in my life, I am validated as a success. I am happy and progressive.

That decision to leave my comfort zone, downscale my indulgences - and breathe - was my best act of defiance.

I found that paper with the plan, and threw it away!

I took a decision to plot my journey at every road I encounter.