celebrity

'Today Jesy Nelson walked away from her dream job. I want to thank her.'

This morning, shared in a single Instagram square, Jesy Nelson announced she was tapping out of Little Mix for good.

"After much consideration and with a heavy heart, I’m announcing I’m leaving Little Mix," she wrote. 

Following their grand finale win on the X Factor, Jesy has performed with the group for nine whole years. Within that time she’s sold out stadium tours, sang at award shows, made a documentary, conducted countless interviews, produced six albums, tackled an eating disorder and attempted to ignore literally millions of trolls.

But she’s had enough.

And, frankly, I don’t think I would have lasted anywhere near nine years.

Over the course of her career, Jesy has handled an extreme version of the nuggets of s**t most people have had to deal with this year.

Stress, toxic comparison, anxiety and burnout

Watch the trailer for Jesy Nelson's documentary 'Odd One Out'. Post continues after video.


Video via BBC.
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Stress. 

I’m sure being an international pop star is a pretty stressful time, but the element of stress that I can relate to in Jesy’s life is the stress of job security

For someone who relies on tours, live shows and events to make an income, the pandemic has been a massive blow to Little Mix. While they still retain ‘fame’, the bread and butter of pop-star-salary has been cut short. 

I myself worked in the events industry at the start of the pandemic, so I know all too well how horrid it can be not knowing when the next event, the next paycheck, the next anything-to-look-forward-to will land in your calendar. 

Toxic Comparison.

Jesy has been very candid about her struggles with social media and commentary on her body, face, clothes, accent - pretty much every aspect of her being. Tumbling into an eating disorder and actively “starving myself for days” became the norm for her, because she was constantly seeking approval and wanting to mentally stand toe-to-toe with her famous peers.

When asked by Glamour Magazine if having her Little Mix bandmates beside her made things easier to deal with, Jesy abruptly answered: “It made it worse.”

“It made it worse because I was being compared to three other girls. I honestly think if I had been a solo artist, it wouldn’t have been as bad. Because I was being compared to three other girls, it made people have more of an opinion. If I had been on my own, there would be no one to compare to.”

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Anxiety. 

Jesy credits social media, and not fame, as her emotional downfall. And it has played into her anxiety in a major way. 

“It wasn’t the fame. It was social media that affected me and then being in the public eye meant I couldn’t get away from it,” Jesy tells Glamour. “I had to roll with it and get on it and I really struggled with pretending to be happy.”

Pretending to be happy? God that rings true.

This year most people were glued to their phones, posting throwbacks and sharing highlights that weren’t representative of their actual reality: Which, let’s be honest, was crying way more than usual, feeling awful and being alone

The phrase ‘Instagram vs. Reality’ has a painful poignance in 2020, when we spent so much of our time staring at a tiny screen and comparing the falsehoods we were seeing to that of our less-glamorous reality. 

This toxic comparison 100 per cent fed into our anxiety, even if we knew deep, deep down that what we were seeing was bulls**t.

Burnout.

Ahh burnout, you sneaky b***h. 

It caught us all this year as work and home life mushed together, where we did as much as we could to keep our jobs (and our incomes) while aggressively trying to not let a global pandemic freak us out too much. 

Listen to The Quicky, where Claire Murphy discusses how to really know if you're suffering from burnout. Post continues after podcast.

And it hit Jesy too. She took time away from the band a few months ago to focus on herself and work on her mental health and for the first time in a long time; it seems people actually backed her with that decision.

Fans were supportive, her bandmates sent their love from the stage and Jesy got the rest she needed. 

As an onlooker, this was huge. I’d never thought that being able to say you needed time off for your mental health would ever actually be something your workplace, your colleagues and your pals would actually support. 

It seemed like one of those ‘nice on paper, impossible in practice’ perks listed on a job description that you couldn’t ever actually action. But here Jesy was, stepping away from a dream career to catch her breath. 

And then she took it one step further. She quit.

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She quit being part of one of the most successful girl groups of her time. She quit the red carpets, quit recording hit albums, quit working with her best mates. She quit being famous. She quit her dream job. 

And she did it for her mental health.

What a ballsy, brilliant, beautiful decision to make. 

For sure, she’s made it from a privileged position of financial security, so this unfortunately isn’t an option for every worker in the world. But boy am I glad that I’ve seen someone do it in such a public way. 

Normalising prioritising your mental health needs to be seen more, heard more and celebrated much, much more. 

I wish that I had walked away from my 'dream job' long before I did. I stuck with it for the sake of my friends who worked there and my career aspirations, and I actively ignored the damage it was causing me on a daily basis. I would constantly tell myself that I was being selfish, ungrateful, disrespectful and entitled for even thinking about leaving. That I was in a role that 'hundreds of women would want', so how pathetic of me to give it up even though my body was physically showing signs of immense stress and I was experiencing depression and rock-bottom self-esteem for the first time.

Giving up on something that looks to be 'the dream job' is one of the hardest things to do. When you've built up a role and plonked it on a pedestal balanced upon carefully curated Instagram pics that scream #ilovemyjob - the fall from grace when you leave is monumental. 

You have to justify to the world that really it wasn't all that, and that you had essentially been covering up the pain for a dangerously long time. 

So firstly, sorry Jesy, that you’ve had to go through one hell of a slog over the past nine years, but secondly, thank you. 

Thank you for being the unexpected face of burnout, and triggering a thousand crucial conversations in workplaces, around dinner tables and in group chats, as you gracefully walk away from the 'dream job'.

Feature Image: Mamamia.

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