I got a job!

Hooooooorah! I finally got a job. And what a job! Acceptable location, convenient hours, nice people, familiar context, decent pay. Phew. I’ll be able to keep on the charity work that’s developed into a couple of paid hours a week, as well, which I’m really happy about.

I desperately wish that my self confidence and self-worth weren’t so solidly tied to whether I’m in regular, ‘normal’, paid employment, but they are. Why does it matter if someone else thinks I’m employable? I wish it didn’t. I wonder how writers or other folk deal with the pressure to have the kind of job which makes you look regular and normal?

I guess I’m working two part time jobs now, so I’ve no idea how the tax, NI etc., will work. I hope I won’t end up paying crazy emergency tax of something. And lets hope the student loans company don’t try and take anything either, I’m not earning half as much as the minimum wage before I owe them contributions!

I expect things will be a little tiring and hectic as I settle in, so I apologise in advance if I stop posting for a while. Wish me luck in the new job, and good luck to everyone else out there who’s job hunting at the moment!

I got a job!

The Sunday Read

Sometimes it seems quite hard to find good articles on the web. Some stuff is just ‘click-bait’ – articles with titles that appear really interesting (e.g. “This new thing is shocking America!”) – and others are thin, or just repetitions of stuff pulled from other sites without much in the way of attribution.

Today I’d like to link to one article that is worth your time.

Mark Manson’s ‘Screw Finding Your Passion’.

I’ve had a thought in the back of my mind for quite some time recently. What do I want to *do* with my life? It’s not a unique concern. Plenty of people fret about the same thing, when they have the time. I’ve even felt this way before, when I realised I’d picked the completely wrong subject to study at university.

But at the moment there’s a tendency to frame the answer to this question in terms of finding your passion. There’s this floating illusion that if you can get a job doing the thing you’re ‘passionate‘ about, then everything will be better, somehow. But how on earth does one work out what one’s passion even is? If I’m down about life and yourself anyway, realising I can’t even work out this ‘simple’ thing just leads to mentally flagellating myself for not being able to identify what the hell this magical ‘passion‘ that everyone else has is.

The thrust of Mark Manson’s article is basically that not only do we already know what our ‘passion’ is, we are already doing it. We just lack the perspective, space, self-awareness or whatever to actually see it. If we stopped ignoring the things that we enjoy, then we’ll see what things gives us the most satisfaction and enjoyment.

I don’t think he’s very explicit about it, but reading his article also makes me realise a very important point. Since when did our passion have to be our job? Since when is it so important that we make our full-time-9-5-pays-the-rent job our passion? What’s wrong with simply pursuing it outside work, or as a part-time job or a voluntary job, whilst we stack shelves or whatever to pay the bills? If we stopped thinking activities are only worthwhile when they makes us successful or rich, we might find it easier to identify what makes us happy/passionate in the first place.

I like his words a lot. He really cuts through the bullshit. Go over to his site and take a look and see what you think, it might strike a chord for you too.

The Sunday Read

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

  1. I’ve been working on another stash-busting project. I need to make a new costume coat for an event in a couple of weekends, so I pulled out a very worn old, 3/4 length camel-coloured wool coat that I’ve been hoarding in the attic forever. I also unburied some lovely chocolate-brown cotton velvet I got from a charity shop years ago, as well as all of the various bits of suede, fur and leather I’ve been holding on to in similar hoarder fashion. Like most of my sewing projects I’m over complicating it, so it’s taking much longer to make than it could, but fundamentally I should be able to do the whole thing without buying any fabric or thread.
  2. Used up some sad leftover cereal that no one wanted to eat (plain cornflakes, rice crispies apparently flavoured with strawberry but actually just really weird) by making chocolate protein crispie cakes. I put enough chocolate in to drown out the odd strawberry smell, and added protein powder (great, but also difficult to use outside very specific recipes) to temper the sugar rush. Sadly my partner threw the rest of the sad cereal away in order to steal the boxes for a project… but I guess that saves me from having to find recipes!
  3. Halloween was quite a night out for us, with two parties in quite distant places, and a trip out to a club. We both wanted a drink or two, so driving wasn’t an option, and at least one of the parties was quite far out from the town centre, so taxis weren’t economical. Instead we used a bus e-ticket bought on my phone, which covered the two of us traveling together for the whole day, and even included the night bus home c.2:30am after the club, much to my surprise! We saved at least £5 just on the price of individual bus tickets, and probably at least £30 compared to cab fares (if any had been available on such a night!) and the environmental impact of using a car. One of the parties was a birthday gathering, so I gave a martini gift-set put together from things I already had (including a wonderful bottle I had to be quite stern with myself to give away!), and at the club we only drank water, and on the way home resisted the call of the kebab. Including the drinks we took to the parties, the birthday gift, club entrance and transport, I think we spent c.£32 for both of us for the whole evening*. Definitely a pretty frugal evening considering how much we packed in!
  4. Last week I saved from the bin a large bag of chips and a bag of miniature sausage rolls which had been bought for work but we’re unused. Not exactly quality food but saved from landfill and saved us some money.
  5. And I’ve also… walked a lot (even in the rain!) instead of taking the bus, taken packed lunches instead of eating in the canteen at college, negotiated discounts on mildly damaged (I mean so mildly I wouldn’t have cared) products, been given a free snack bar for being patient with a server, not used the tumble dryer again this week and most impressive of all (considering how cold it is)… I still haven’t switched the heating on yet!

*Add another £12 if you include the inspired Halloween costumes my partner came up with… but I think these could be considered an investment for every Halloween for the next ten years!

How’d your week go? Let me know if you’re feeling proud of your green or frugal activities, or head over to Non-Consumer Advocate who inspired this post and comment there!

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Surviving the job search

Searching for a job is one of the most self-esteem damaging things I’ve done recently.

If you’re lucky, I guess you find a job relatively easily, apply, get called for interview, and receive the happy news that the job is yours. But I think the majority of people must have the same experience as me: search, apply, hear nothing, apply… apply… apply… get an interview! Get turned down. Go back to applying…

I haven’t managed to master this process and retain any emotional distance. I know in reality that being rejected from multiple jobs, usually without anyone even bothering to explicitly tell me I’ve been rejected, is pretty common. I know that it doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do with me, it’s about the application I made and other people’s assumptions about who I am and what I want based on that application. I shouldn’t take the rejection, or more commonly the complete failure to even bother being polite enough to send a rejection, personally.

I know objectively it doesn’t mean I’m a terrible unworthy person, but it somehow it always begins to feel like I am!

Every time I apply for a job and get rejected it feels illogical and almost incomprehensible, and the flip side of that is that I immediately begin to question my ability to assess my own strengths. I’m not applying for jobs that would challenge me, so why aren’t I even getting interviews? Am I so bad at accurately assessing my skills that I’m missing the fact that I’m completely under-experienced and under-skilled for these posts? Or is my self-esteem so damaged that I’m massively under-selling myself?

All these thoughts lead to a tangle of anxiety. The cycle of being ignored or rejected adds to this, as well sadness and frustration and feelings of worthlessness.

I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms to help fight this, and today I thought I’d share them here in the hope that they might help other people in similar situations.

  1. Do a big job search once a week. Searching takes time, and as you try and find things that you can do, that don’t have crazy demands, aren’t massively over-subscribed, are geographically appropriate and aren’t massively under-paid it can all get pretty depressing and confusing. It also involves a lot of decision making, which is exhausting, particularly if you’re feeling vulnerable anyway. Searching every day leaves me tired and dispirited. Instead, I do one search at the beginning of the week, and bookmark all of the pages. Then over the week I work through them in order of application date/preference.
  2. Get up early and do an application in the morning before anything else. Okay, not before coffee, but before I do any other kind of work or internet browsing or anything. If I don’t start until later, I just give my internal critical monologue time to get going, and I start to slowly suffocate under anxiety and self-criticism. This leads me to feeling increasingly unmotivated and hopeless. If I get on with an application in the morning, then I really feel like I’ve achieved something already, and I can let myself off the hook to do something more enjoyable. This makes me feel much more positive overall.
  3. Once the application is written and sent, let it go. Don’t dwell on it, never go back and look at your documents (you’ll just find things you wish you could change!), and certainly don’t let yourself start to think about how you’d plan your transport or anything else. If I let myself dwell on a possible job I always end up planning out how I’d manage things and letting myself look forwards to it, and then when I get rejected or just never hear anything the impact of that is even worse. Thinking about the job sets me up for massive disappointment, so I try very hard not to do it. If there’s any follow up I can do, I just schedule my calendar to remind me, and try and put it out of my head. I find it really difficult, but worthwhile.

There are compromises in all of these suggestions, but this way I’m actually able to face writing the applications without suffocating in my own anxiety. Sure, I might miss out on some jobs if they are posted and then taken down quickly, but I’m much less miserable!

Let me know if any of this helps you, or how you managed to survive your own job searches. And if you’re looking for a job right now, good luck!

Surviving the job search