On Redundancy.

As I start to write this, it’s a Friday morning in mid-April and I’m awake and dressed before the sun has even properly risen. You might think I’m very industrious, being up nice and early before a day of work; but the fact of the matter is that, as of this lovely autumn morning, I no longer have a job.

It’s a funny feeling, being ‘made redundant’. On the one hand, you’re assured that it’s nothing to do with you or the quality of your work – that it’s simply, and sadly, just not viable for your position to exist anymore. On the other hand, though, there’s no getting around that word: redundant. It means, literally, ‘no longer needed or useful’; and there are few less pleasant feelings than that of being useless.

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It’s true that of late I had been feeling a little uneasy with my job. Was this really what I wanted to be doing? Was I making any progress towards my eventual ‘dream career’? But these were just the musings of someone a year and a half into their first ‘real’ job after uni. When it came down to it, I really did like my job, I was good at it, and I never imagined I would lose it so suddenly and in a way so out of my own control.

On the day I was let go, I spent the evening absorbing the shock with mint choc-chip ice cream straight from the tub, occasionally bursting into teen-relationship-breakup-esque fits of tears and lamenting the fact that I was now effectively an unemployed hobo. Since the age of 15, I’ve always had a job! Even though most of that time was spent in retail (and even though there were times I thought I’d rather live on the street than fix another damn self-serve checkout), I was always appreciative of the fact that I had a payslip to rely on at the end of each week. Facing a redundancy in the face of today’s competitive job market, monetary concerns soon become far more pressing than mere feelings of disappointment and self-doubt…

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Luckily, I have an extremely supportive partner who is always very good at assuaging my worries, whatever they may be. ‘I actually think this is a really good thing,’ he said to me while I was probably getting snot and tears all over his shirt. ‘It means you can focus on what you really want to do now.’

And when I stopped to think about it, I realised he was completely right. I’m not really one to believe ‘everything happens for a reason’, but I do think that sometimes bad things like this happen at just the right time for us to turn them into good things. I’m treating this as the push I need to work hard on my own business and career opportunities – to focus on achieving the creative lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of.

There are plenty of wonderful things in the world that some people may define as redundant: bookshops, physical photo albums, semicolons. But I know in my heart that those things are not at all useless – and you know what? Neither am I.

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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.)