Surviving The Dark World Of Job Hunting

At the start of this year, my boy and I moved into a cute little apartment in the beautiful suburb of Merewether, Newcastle. It’s all been so exciting: leaving home for the first time (for me), being actual proper grown-ups (kind of), starting our own little life together. Nathan got a job at a pub that’s a thirty-second walk around the corner; we made a new friend who lives just a few streets away; we took the ten-minute walk to the beach nearly every day; we had people over for housewarming celebrations. It began, very quickly, to feel like home.

Except for one thing. It’s only a little thing, and it probably won’t seem like much to you. But for me, it put a ten-month damper on my otherwise wonderful new life. It’s the fact that I was stuck in my job: a retail position (which I’d held since I started working at age 15) at a large chain store in Maitland – 45 minutes away from Merewether. Now, this job was not really a bad job. I was paid a fair hourly rate, I didn’t have absurd working hours (most of the time), and I worked with a lot of people I really love.

But.

I’d been there for seven straight years – my whole working life. My job often involved tasks that got boring or irritating after seven minutes; after seven YEARS, you can understand how mind-meltingly menial and eternally frustrating everything became. On top of that, I was stuck in the car for a total of an hour and a half every time I had to work, often driving all that way for a measly three-hour shift. I felt like I was living half my life back in Maitland – like I couldn’t truly call my new place home – and I hated it.

Now, I’m aware that the degree I completed (a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Writing) is far from a one-way ticket to Job Land. I won’t get into the ridiculous stigma attached to humanities degrees here, though – that’s for another time and another blog post. All I’ll say about my choice of Bachelor’s degree is that it was a necessary stepping stone to the career in publishing I am pursuing, and that I enjoyed every minute of it. What I want to make especially clear is that I didn’t expect to find a relevant job floating around and flashing my name in neon as soon as I finished my degree; all I wanted was a different job – one that was actually in my new hometown, one that I could take up while pursuing other relevant jobs and further study, and one that I might actually enjoy.

Putting this out there is pretty uncomfortable for me, because obviously the first reaction most people will have is ‘well, why couldn’t you get another job? Are you such a bad worker/so stupid/that much of a failure as a human being in general that NOBODY would hire you?’ The answer to these is actually ‘no’. I am a good worker, and I’m good at my job; I’m not stupid – I graduated from uni with an overall Distinction grade; and, apart from my weakness for Doritos and my total lack of physical grace and coordination, I am not a complete fiasco of a person. My failure to escape my old job wasn’t for lack of trying, either; I’d completed dozens of cold-call resume drops, applied for countless advertised positions, and made it through to interviews, all to no avail.

But.

Just when I thought things were never going to change and that I was going to be stuck wrapping laybys and listening to the words ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ for the rest of my miserable days, I’ve managed to land myself not one, but two new jobs – and they are actually relevant to my career path and interests! One is at a cute little bookshop in Newcastle, and the other is a writing position, in which I create monthly newsletters and business documentation content for a Lake Macquarie company.

Can you believe it?! After all this time, I have finally escaped my chain-store prison and can now work with the two things I love most – books and words – while I complete postgraduate study in those very same areas! I consider it the final step in the establishment of my new little life. While before I loved everything about my life except my job, I feel like work is now going to be one of the things in my life I enjoy the most.

To sum up what has become a very long post, I simply want to extol the virtues of patience and fortitude when it comes to getting out of a job you hate. If you’re desperately applying for jobs you don’t even want and sinking into a depression when you don’t get them, know that you’re not alone. If you find yourself crying into your locker or eating fifteen cookies on your lunch break to get you through the day – don’t worry; others have been there. I’ve done it; thousands of other people have also done it; and guess what? We got through it. There is always something on the horizon, a bright little gold spot hidden among the shitty dishwater-grey – and, as living proof, I promise you: one day soon, the little gold spot will finally catch your eye.

What every day has the potential to look like in my sunny home suburb of Merewether. :)

Me as a happy little 2012 graduate. Bring on the rest of my study!
(P.S. Yes, that is a ridiculous photobombing boyfriend you see in the background…sigh.)

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Farewell To An Old Friend.

Over the weekend, I had to say goodbye to a dear old companion of mine: my beloved piano, which I’ve had for fifteen years. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: ‘so what? It’s literally just a big hunk of wood and strings and hammers, you can get a new one.’ But hear me out – as I recently realised, even a big hunk of wood and strings and hammers can have more personal and emotional significance than you might think.

I’ve been playing piano since the age of four. I bashed away for the first few years on a little keyboard until, when I was seven, my parents bought me the most wonderful surprise: a gorgeous upright Yamaha. I still remember coming home from school and not quite believing my eyes when I saw this big, beautiful piano crammed into my little bedroom. It was the best gift I’d ever gotten (and remains so to this day)!

Now, I’m not particularly good at very many things. I’ve always been a complete sporting failure, I am neither artsy nor craftsy, and I’m a decidedly average chef. But I am good at playing piano. I had the most excellent teacher for over ten years and I am extremely lucky in that I have absolute pitch (or relative pitch…the difference between them confuses me a bit. Whichever one involves being able to grab a C out of mid-air and learn songs by ear quite easily is the one I have. MAGIC!). I completed up to Seventh Grade in the AMEB examinations and became obsessed with songwriting in my senior years of high school. (My friends still like to sing my own songs back to me on occasion, much to my eternal horror.)

For a long time, I thought that music was the thing I would base my future around. I even auditioned successfully for the Conservatorium of Music when I finished school, but eventually decided to pursue my other big love: books and words and writing. I don’t regret my decision at all – I absolutely love where I am and where I’m going, and I don’t think I would have been anywhere near as happy pursuing music as a career. Nevertheless, music has been, and always will be, a huge part of my life and a huge part of the person I am.

After I first moved out of home at the start of this year, Mum and Dad floated the idea of selling my piano. They had good reason: I didn’t live there anymore, so it didn’t get played – it just sat there, gathering dust and going out of tune. I did play it occasionally when I visited, but that really wasn’t often enough; I knew that, and I could see my parents’ point, but I just couldn’t bear to let it go. I remember one extra tearful phone call to Mum, begging her not to sell it – not yet, anyway; I wasn’t ready. When the time came for it to really be sold, I was calm upon hearing the news, but surprised myself by crying like an absolute girl as soon as I thought about going to Mum and Dad’s to play it for the last time.

I suppose I had never really thought about how big a part of my life that piano had been. It was always just there – there for me to learn and spend hundreds of hours practising on; there for me to palm-mash furiously when I couldn’t get a piece right; there for me to write and create music with. As usual with the good things in life, I pretty much took it for granted. I never once considered the fact that I might one day have to see it go, or the fact that I would only then realise what it meant to me.

My parents are in the process of selling their house at the moment, which is why the time has come to farewell my beautiful piano. It’s going to a couple who plan to give it to their daughter as a surprise wedding present when she comes home from her honeymoon, which I think is really lovely. I will miss it a whole lot, but I’m really happy it’s going somewhere it will be appreciated.

Now, don’t worry, I’m finished discussing my deep emotional attachment to an inanimate object (and hopefully this is the last bit of blatant sentimentality you’ll find here for a while). The last thing I’ll say is that I hope things might one day go full circle: that eventually I might come home from my honeymoon, to my house, to find a lovely old piano there waiting for me. I think it’d be then that I would truly know the meaning of having a home of my own.

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Goodbye my old friend. ❤️🎹

A post shared by Claire 📚 (@claire_amelia_) on


Playing one of my favourite pieces on the weekend
(in a very rusty fashion, hence the 15-second Instagram clip and not the full video).