Wednesday, 6 August 2008

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." (or something like that) Walt Whitman

I have never had a job that’s right for me. If, perchance, any of my old colleagues were to read this (unlikely – I seem to be the only one reading it so far), they would wholeheartedly agree, with all their hearts.

I don’t want this to be a simple recollection of my jobs which would make sorry reading, indeed. Bad choice, followed by bad choice, leading to misery: sheer, unbridled misery. The point is that I know what I have learnt and I know it’s come slowly to me. I’ve known people who’ve had clear and distinct directions for their careers from an early age. They’ve managed to find an area which they like and a role that didn’t give them the cold sweats. That’s brilliant for them, very nice.

I’ve never worked out how they do it, though.

Maybe they just had really productive sessions with their careers teachers. Maybe they just had parents who boxed them into Very Sensible Choices which helped them Keep their Options Open.

Maybe the fact that they are able to complete simple administrative tasks without somehow making the entire company grind to a standstill makes them infinitely more employable. I’m inclined to think that’s probably it.

Sometimes, though, I think that what I’ve learnt from having a string of wrong jobs is more valuable to me than career advancement I might have made with the right jobs.

I have learnt that when you have colleagues who undermine your work constantly, that is bullying which can lead to stress, depression and lost earnings. That happened to me twice.

I have learnt that there are times when it’s better to act like an insider from the start, and there are times when acting like an insider can’t help. Sometimes it’s all fake.

For some reason, I didn’t know these things before I had jobs. I don’t know why this is, that I have gaps in my knowledge that seem common sense to the rest of the world. The only way in which I could learn them was the path I’ve taken and I feel that the fact that I have had to learn this consciously is of value. It’s as though I had no idea how to avoid completely fucking up.

I still don’t know that I could say with any certainty that I would manage to avoid it again, but I’ve grown, I understand more. I wouldn’t want to assert that I understand more about other people, but I know myself better. I know that I will cope with a lot and do so calmly without endless, fruitless self-blame. I also know that if I screw up, I can admit it. These lessons have had most value in my personal life, giving me valuable breathing space and time to adjust to the idea that I may yet have a meaningful and fulfilling career, but that it must be one of my own making.

I don’t fit easily into other people’s pigeonholes. I always perceived this as a problem but I hope now, that it doesn’t need to be.

Most of all, I have learned to accept myself a little more, both good and bad. I’m learning to hone in on the good and try to develop it further, to get the bad less bad and on the way to relax a little, and not try to be all things to all people, even when I have to be all things to myself.


Andrew Warner said...

awesome post. i don't meet enough people who feel out of place, especially in work situations.

Glad someone can relate.

Tracy Warner said...

I hate my job. I have no idea what to do with my life. But it's comforting to know that someone else feels as awkward and foreign in the world.