Reflecting on a success

I got the job!

I’ll be working as an administrator at the University of Birmingham, which is exciting not least because HE admin is a career path I’m definitely considering in the years to come. The pay’s decent, good benefits, nice area – I’m chuffed! … But I can’t shake the feeling that nothing’s changed.

The interview, in my opinion, sucked. I really thought I’d sunk like a punctured dinghy in a grey, drizzly, over-sized puddle of crap. With five days before hearing the unexpected news, I had plenty of time to ruminate, self-flagellate and of course, get hideously drunk. In the end, the phone call swept away my skin-deep moping. But as I smile to myself, I’m making a conscious effort to remember the all important fact: I over-reacted.

Misrepresenting yourself at a crucial moment, a moment when your pride, even your personality, seem to hang in the balance, is a tragic thing. Unfortunately, most of us with self-critical, ambitious natures have to go through the process quite a lot. Or at least, we think we do, and this was my problem.

I felt that once again, I’d sold myself out, by accident! This panel of friendly, intellectual staff were judging me, and I gave them just a mushy, unprofessional slop. Clearly, I was wrong. But what would it take to throw me back into those five days of pain? Or the past few weeks of zombification? A single sentence. ‘We don’t want you’.

When I do, inevitably, find myself at another loose end, how will I make it better? How will I prevent a normal, even common, experience from becoming wasteful, or worse, character-defining? Something to think about…

Twiddling my thumbs

Being unemployed is hard – really hard.

Having only been without a job, technically, for just under a fortnight, the personal struggles of not being at work have been unexpectedly difficult to control. I’ve never had nothing to do. I’ve always either been in full time study (with part-time work) or working full-time. Now, even though I’m keeping myself busy, there’s a monkey on my back which won’t stop nattering.

Work is a hugely significant part of most people’s lives. As Prof. Edward Watkins of Exeter University reminds us, not working, for many, is equivalent to temporarily losing our identity. I can completely understand this feeling, even if it seems extreme. I’ve gone from being, at least in theory, a moulder of young people’s minds, to another graduate without work, and my greatest pain comes from the feeling that I am somehow no longer respectable; I’m no longer proud of my profile.

Of course, I know this is nonsense. I have people telling me it’s nonsense every day. But we all know just how distant theory and feeling can be, no matter how strong your ability to rationalise. Like I said, I’ve kept myself busy; aside from applying for 30 + jobs, I’ve begun volunteering at the local library, picked up some old hobbies (like transcribing historical documents – who knew this could be done online?) and gotten back into a semi-fit physical state. Oh, and I’ve got a place on a library and information management course up in Sheffield for September (huzzah!) But this is still a hard slog, and I’ve only been at it for a short while.

But it’s painfully obvious what the solution is: get on with it, right? I think I am, in all fairness. I’m averaging 2-5 applications a day, with a few days where I just couldn’t face it made up by days of 5-10 application stints. I even have an interview next Wednesday for a job I’m really interested in. It’s only one, and I’m very conscious that I need to smother my expectations, but it’s something.

It’s been tempting to look back at the job I left and regret it. But I won’t. Like I’ve said before, life is too short for obsessions, depressions and counting off the years of your life according to career goals. If anybody’s reading this in a similar, or worse, situation, I’d ask you please to just remember the good things in your life. If you can’t see them, seek them out: go see your parents or siblings for a few days; take up a new hobby (it doesn’t have to be transcribing!); go for a nice, long walk. It won’t make take your anxiety away, but it will at least remind you that actually, there’s more to life than work, and nobody gives a fuck about C.V.s in heaven.