A little while ago, I wrote about the fact that I was adjusting to my new life of COVID-related redundancy and had found myself out of work for the first time in nine years.
I had intended to write more about my ongoing search during the intervening weeks. Instead, I dove head first into the application process, leaving my blog to languish (something which has become a pattern during this shit show of a year).
Then suddenly (it seemed), nine weeks after being told I was surplus to requirement, I took to LinkedIn (as has also become a pattern) to announce that I’d landed a role that to my surprise required no formal application. It’s funny what being mouthy on social networking sites can lead to and after a telephone conversation and a face-to-face meeting, I was looking forward to taking the next step in my career with a brand-new team.
Before 2020 went south, I’d often fantasised about what it would be like to have more than two weeks off work. Lounging about the house, coming and going as I pleased, spending endless hours on Netflix watching shows that would otherwise have held little to no appeal.
Yet as the weeks wore on and it became harder to fill the time, I realised just how much value I placed on having a job to go to. My days had fallen into a pattern of lie-ins, scouring job sites, filling out lengthy application forms, doing the shopping, wiping surfaces, tending to the cats and making Alex lunches and cups of tea to get him through endless rounds of conference calls.
I was making the best use of the time that I could. I even signed up to a training course on marketing essentials so my brain wouldn’t rot out of my head. In spite of all this though, I often found myself wondering what my purpose was if I wasn’t sitting at a desk.
The whole experience has got me thinking about why we place so much value on our ability to find a job and stay in it.
For many, having a job means getting up every day, saying goodbye to loved ones, pets or simply walking out of the door to spend the day performing tasks on behalf of someone else for the primary purpose of paying your way in the world.
But it’s even more than that. Work is how you expand your mind. You learn something new every day. You make new friends; some of whom you’ll keep in touch with for the rest of your life. You have the opportunity to absorb knowledge from those around you, whilst imparting your own. It’s collaborative. It’s your way of making your mark on the world and building connections with others, regardless of the industry you’ve found yourself in.
You can likely tell at this point that I’ve had a lot of free time for reflection. It’s true. I’ve spent more time with my husband since March than I think I ever have for one continuous, uninterrupted period since we met over 12 years ago. I’ve learnt that spending weeks on end not seeing my family in person has more of a detrimental impact on my mental health than I first thought it would.
I’ve also discovered that the cats use the litter tray significantly more than I had anticipated.
It’s now only a few days until my new job starts and it can’t come soon enough. Better still, it’s officially autumn, which means the return of jumpers, putting the heating on, making stews and burning candles. All of which make me stupendously happy.
So, it’s time to set new goals as we edge ever closer to the end of the year and reflect on what these weird COVID days have brought us.
Here are my personal ambitions for the next few months:
- To rebuild my confidence by returning to what I do best, working extra hard and doing my bit to help my new team and employers enter 2021 with positivity and ambition
- To make the very best of every moment spent with my family and friends in the knowledge that you can be deprived of it at any time, with little notice
- To set the best possible example for my new niece when she finally joins us at the end of October (unless she decides to sleep in; something we’ll have in common)
- To eat fewer snacks and drink fewer beers
I truly believe better times lie ahead.