Saturday, 8 February 2014

When a NO is a YES

A friend of mine wants to be a life coach.  Years ago, when we first met, he advised me to draw lines around a central point, one for each aspect of my life - money, career, relationship, home, social life, etc.  On a scale of 1 - 10 and assuming that 1 was closest to the central point and 10 was furthest away, he said to mark on each line where my happiness levels were.  Then, when the lines are joined up from the score marker, it's easier to see which areas of one's life need work.

Here's my graph.  It's pretty obvious what's not working for me right now.

You don't want to know how long I spent making this pretty.

It's not that I don't have a job, it's just that the one I'm doing is so not my thing.  I've been doing it now for 6 years and am surprisingly pretty good at it, but I'm under no illusions.  For me, it's a job, not a career.

With this in mind, I recently applied for another job.  It was a job I thought I'd be good at; a job I thought I'd enjoy.  A job that seemed so tailored for me, it didn't even seem like a real job.  The job spec went something like:

*  Looking for a pedantic, judgemental grammar nerd; 

*  Must be hypercritical and able to pick out the smallest of faults from half a mile away.  In the dark; 
*  Must be prepared to be paid a decent amount of money for something they'd do for free, given half the chance.

Yes, that's almost word for word, exactly what it said.  YES IT IS.  Well, that was what I took from it, anyway.

So, I applied despite them asking for a degree, which I don't have (no, dropping out twice is not almost the same as finishing once), and experience, which I also don't have.  I talked myself up to feeling like a real freelance writer with my little articles about DIY that I've written for an unknown website; and despite the fact that I don't think anyone ever reads the pages that I proofread, I made my input to them sound VERY IMPORTANT INDEED.    I managed to get past the HR interview, which I know is really just a filtering exercise to make sure you're not a complete dickhead and can string a sentence together in the correct language.  I was still pretty relieved that my lack of anything listed in the job specification didn't earn me a bollocking for wasting their time.  I handed in a localisation project for them to evaluate, and waited.  And waited.

I wanted this job so badly that I decided to try a visualisation technique that my friend talks about (surprisingly, not the life coach one.  Evidently I attract a certain, more alternative element of society).  He's bang into the "Law of Attraction" theory made famous and lucrative by Abraham Hicks, and says that you have to imagine yourself in the position you want to be in, as if it's already happened.  Convince yourself that you have got the job, or the boy/girlfriend, or the car, or whatever it is that's holding you back from complete fulfillment.  "Act as if" you're already there and you will put the right vibes out to the universe, which will respond by giving you what you want.

This approach makes me nervous, because I'm more of a pessimist than I realised until I started trying to actively change my thought processes.  I prefer the "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" approach which leaves little room for abject disappointment.  Anyway, I decided to give it a go and was so good at it that the first morning I tried, I convinced myself a little too well and couldn't sleep through excitement.  Oops.  On reflection, it might have been wise to wait until I wasn't on night shift.  

During the waiting period, which was almost a month in total due to Christmas getting in the way, a strange thing happened.  The job that I'd convinced myself I had, that I wanted desperately, that I NEEDED with every fibre of my being, started to seem less appealing.  Actually, that's not strictly true.  The job itself didn't become any less attractive, but the effect it would have on my family life made it seem less and less desirable.  I went from planning my "first day at the office" outfit to desperately trying to figure out how to make approximately 22 days of holiday stretch over the childcare black hole of sum
mer that lasts for two and a half months, to say nothing of Christmas, Easter and the multiple random days that Spain decides to close during the course of a year, just because.  I started telling myself at 6:30 pm every weekday evening that, were I to get the job, I'd just be coming in from work now and almost immediately starting the bath time/bedtime routine.  I started testing my feelings about losing time with my baby, going from 3 day working weeks where I'm out of the house while he's in bed and he goes to nursery Wed - Fri solely so I can sleep, to a full business week.  I worked out that, of the 168 available hours in a week, only 34 of them could feasibly be spent with my boy.  I worried about starting in a company which had no need or desire to be flexible with me for doctor's appointments, baby illness or inconveniently placed nursery holidays.  I realised that working 3 nights a week left 4 nights in which I could move shifts around if needed, but that expecting the rest of the world to adjust their working hours around my baby's teething when they, quite understandably, wanted to do business within the universally accepted time frame of Mon - Fri 9 - 6 probably wouldn't be quite so easy.  

With a heavy heart, I came to the conclusion that now probably wasn't the right time for this career move.  I fretted about what I would do if they offered me the job.  Turning it down would mean stagnating for longer in a job I had outgrown, but accepting it would mean saying goodbye to precious baby time, not being the person to teach Dom the rest of the animal noises, joining the millions of mums fighting through rush hour traffic or crowded public transport to get home just one minute sooner for just one more cuddle before saying goodbye an hour later at bedtime and again the next morning.  Doing that ALL WEEK.  Craving the scent of my baby, the time to just sit down and watch him figure out what the light switch does, the time to see him run around a park.  Despite my exasperation with so many aspects of my job (an entire post on its own), I couldn't deny the freedom it gave me to be a "full time mother" (GOD, I hate that phrase) 4 days out of the week rather than just two.  I had the balance, could I give that up to weight the scales in favour of work?  I know people do it every day, I know this is a normal life for most working mums, but I just wasn't ready for my graph to change so completely. I couldn't sacrifice all the lines for the sake of one. 

Evidently, the company I applied for felt the same way and turned down my application.  It was the most positive rejection I'd ever had - they liked my work, they thought I could do the job, but they ultimately received an application from somebody with more (read: any) experience.  

So now I'm back on the treadmill, keeping an eye out for the perfect job whilst continuing to drag myself through the working week where I am.  The short time that I had the other job (in my head) has given me an appreciation for my time with my family that can't be matched.  I've started turning off the data plan and wi-fi on my phone in the day so I'm not distracted from my time with Dom, because even if nothing in my working life ever changes, he changes every minute.  In no time, he'll be in school all week and I'll be free - free to get whatever job I want, or finally have a clean house, or go for a massage, or join a gym.  Free to give my all to looking for a job that will make me happy, without having to worry it'll simultaneously detract from the best part of my life and make me miserable.  Free to be more than a mama or a call centre agent.  But never, ever free of the craving for sweet baby skin, toddler knees, chubby arms around my neck, one more glimpse of the baby he was, the toddler he is, the boy he's becoming, the man he will one day be.  For the rest of my life, I'll never be free from loving him.  Never that.

*********     I first posted this back on  08/02/2014.  I had to take it down at the beginning of March when I went for a different job at the same company, as I'd stupidly mentioned I had a blog and the recruiter asked to see it.  I still wasn't sure that the time was right but I figured it's better to try anyway.  I didn't get the second job either, so now it can go back up without me having to worry it'll jeopardise my chances    **********

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