I got offered a freelance role recently. Successful agency, a big new business win to work on and, it goes without saying, some financial security.
I turned it down.
I could almost hear the recruiter thinking when I told her my decision, “is she crazy or just plain stupid?” Of course, she was nothing but pure professionalism in her response and I thank her for that.
But it wasn’t a straightforward decision. I’d already decided that I should probably take some time out between jobs to give the old breathers a chance to recover and repair. Besides, I had about a month long backlog of hospital appointments to catch up on (sadly the over-burdened NHS hasn’t quite got around to developing holographic technology to enable virtual appointments yet, but here’s hoping.)
In addition, I had made the hard decision to leave my previous agency to pursue a different kind of planning and transition into the sustainability and charity sector, so to not give that a shot first seemed wrong.
But the most pressing reason – that even common sense and a decent pay cheque couldn’t argue with – was where the agency was. Specifically the air around it. It was in an area of of London known for very poor air quality.
I’ve got my own little mind map of London that doesn’t mark the tourist spots or the best lattes in town (I’d pay good money for that map though) but it does tell me where all the areas of persistently bad air quality are, and I do my best to avoid them for long periods of time.
It sounds a little dramatic I know, the effects of breathing poor air are negligible if your exposure is minimal- for everyone that is, CF or not- but the long term effects are quite another thing.
There are lots of things you can’t put a price on and – it’s taken me a long while to accept it – keeping my lung function as good as it possibly could be, definitely falls somewhere in the ballpark of priceless.
Now if someone could only develop a high fashion face mask that doesn’t make you look like a ninja with a side hustle, that’d be peachy.