I’ve started working again, and joy of joys, it’s a 9-to-5 job in a (fairly) central London location. So why am I uneasy about the future? Perhaps because it feels like I’m almost exactly where I would have been if the past six months hadn’t happened at all — and while I may have longed for my life to return to how it was in 2013, I know in my heart that things have to change one day…
Consider this: if I hadn’t accepted redundancy at Camden and had fought to keep my job, I would now be working on one of the upper floors of a modern building in the King’s Cross area. I’d be commuting to work every day on the Bank branch of the Northern Line (so I’d be lucky to get a seat), sitting at a hot desk with a laptop instead of a desktop, doing various tasks with Excel and Visio, and (since everyone I liked left around the same time as me) working with strangers, with whom I’d have to forge completely new relationships. I’d then go after work to my usual evening events — climbing, personal training, yoga, Japanese meetup — or else go home and study or play video games.
On the other hand, now I seem to have this exact life anyway, after having been either unemployed, unpaid or unable to face a bad job since the end of last July! Believe me, I’m grateful to be working again after so long in the wilderness (being on benefits is a real drain on self-esteem, not to mention bank balance), and I made it through by continuing to do the things I enjoy, but I wonder if I’ve only delayed the inevitable. Indeed, it might have been better to have stayed at Camden, as I’d be earning more on a permanent basis (this is only a contract position), and also feeling like I was making a positive difference, as I was for five years.
But maybe I’m worrying too much. Yeah, I know, what a concept, but hear me out: this position may only be short-term to begin with, but there will be opportunity to go permanent, and even if it seems a hell of a lot like an admin position to start with, and even if I don’t get to do much beyond supporting bespoke packages in IT helpdesk terms, at least (a) I’ll have more demonstrable experience logging tickets, and (b) I’ll have time to finally finish my Server 2008 studies, which I’ve been picking at for over nine months now, before my next round of job-searching.
What’s really worrying me — and what I must thus conquer — is the thought that this time around, I’m in an impermanent, unstable situation. I enjoyed 2013 precisely because I felt secure in my job, and even though I wanted to move into IT, I could indulge my whims (to a certain extent) through a great holiday to America and various meetup groups. This time, however, I’m not permanent and thus have to keep improving myself, and face more hardships if I want to complete the journey I began. I may even have to give up some of the things I’ve enjoyed, or at least find new places to do them (for example, living in Surrey would mean I couldn’t go to the Castle any more, unless I made an expedition of it).
However, I can enjoy my life in the meantime: my personal trainer’s still alive (despite having to go to A&E recently following a faceplant incident!), my other social events continue (I’ll even be able to eat out at Nando’s or Ed’s before yoga, as I always did), and “best mate” is moving into this very house in April (the guy who cut us off the Internet in 2013 finally moving on). Despite the anguish of the past few months, I think I’ve been happier living here in Finchley than I’ve been since pretty much coming to London in the first place (aside from my first year, when I was at university and thus surrounded by new friends and relatively carefree in terms of accommodation), so why would I choose to give that up? It’s true, one day my life will change… but not just yet.
It may interest you to know that I turned down a job interview yesterday for various reasons (being about to start a new job, my suit being in the wash, donating blood), but most importantly because it was right here in Finchley. Sure, it was a permanent role, unequivocally IT helpdesk-based, and it might have been nice walking for five minutes to get to work, but I don’t want a career tying me to this area of London. I want to work in the centre, so I can commute there no matter where life takes me (in the home counties, at least), and I certainly don’t want to live and work in the same place — I like the sense of work/life separation that the daily commute brings.
(Just a pity that my current job isn’t far enough away that commuting on a good, non-delayed day would take long enough for me to watch an episode of, well, anything longer than Beavis and Butt-head! How’s that for a weak complaint? I know, Moon on a stick!)
Anyway, all things considered, I’m better off where I am — working, earning, and hopefully learning — and I’m not bitter about missing out on that other (permanent) job in Waterloo, compared to which this one might seem like a consolation prize. I do feel melancholy when I consider the happier times I had in the past, but there’s no going back, if only because my life at Camden ceased to exist in any recogniseable form anyway. Like I said before, I can’t turn back time, and nor should I try; instead, I’ll make the most of what I have now, and stop worrying about some arbitrary time limit on the things that make me happy.
Finally, it’s worth noting that around this time in 2009 was when I started my job in Camden children’s social services; it was a miserable experience initially (in the beginning everyone was noisy, not just that one loud woman), and I was very unhappy there for my first year, but I found my feet and by 2011 had made friends with everyone I was likely to make friends with (hence being able to survive the ensuing horrible period of my life). If I can feel happy and accepted in this role in less than that amount of time, well, I’ll be ahead of schedule, won’t I?
I just wish blokes didn’t keep thrusting their hands out at me — I hate shaking hands with strangers (especially males), due to being an unrepentant introvert. I think this frame from an Internet cartoon explains my feelings about extroverted people invading my personal space rather well: