Some things are a little too sensitive to deal with. Out of embarrassment or shame or your own habit for making excuses. For me one of these things was my day job. My CV has always read a little strange. A BA and MA in Literature and Writing and then admin jobs in fields connected to finance. When I moved to London three years ago I didn’t have a job and after two months I was starting to get desperate. I ended up getting a temp job in an office in Canary Wharf. I didn’t really like it much, but after a while I got to know some nice people and the work was only boring, not stressful. After a while I moved into another job in a different department, which was similar but a bit more varied. I met more people who were nice and after a while I accepted everything. The way habits form and the way after a while you can stop noticing things you see every day. I accepted the rather boring unchallenging job. I accepted the painful and stressful commute and I was almost used to the surprised and confused looks on people’s faces when they heard where I worked. I made excuses for it half knowing that the people I was talking to didn’t really believe me. Like a lot of things in my life, I’ve learned, I seem to put up with them a lot longer than I should and in hindsight I always seem to be about six months behind where I should be in terms of moving on at the right time.
Two and a half years after I started, I left the job. I realised a lot of things in the run up to my thirtieth birthday. Amongst these things was the importance of taking notice of myself. I noticed that commuting to Canary Wharf from North London was making me incredibly angry. Every morning and every evening my heart would race and I started to mutter, at first quietly and at last very loudly to all the rude people who pushed and shoved me. I found myself saying loudly “AM I INVISIBLE?” when people walked at me, expecting me to jump out of their way, or when people crowded onto the train not letting me get off first. I found myself saying it over and over in my head. It made me sad because I realised that doing that every day did make me feel invisible. I was living a bit of a compromise. I was in a job I didn’t really care for in a field that was utterly unconnected to any of my real life interests. But I did it because I did need a job and being unemployed in London scared me, I had a very high threshold for crap I could put up with because being unemployed was worse. Things shifted and with the unwavering, lovely support of my special gentleman friend, I finally realised long after everybody else in my life that I needed to get a new job.
After I realised this I was ready to leave and the frustration just grew and grew. I channelled a lot of energy into looking for new jobs and spent a lot of evenings writing application forms and cover letters. After my first rejection email I felt validated. I felt like had things been different that day I could have got a phone call asking me to an interview instead of an emailing telling me I wasn’t right for the job. The application forms weren’t going nowhere, at least someone was reading them. I was a name on a list to be struck through, this was progress at least.
From the outside it didn’t take too long to get my new job but it felt longer. I remember just before it happened I daydreamed that perhaps within 4 to 6 weeks I could be moving on. I think it was 6 weeks. I had an interview, I liked the office and the people and I was offered a new job. At this point all of my frustrations about where I had been working for the past two and a half years were in sharp focus. My growing hatred and anxiety of commuting on the tube each day was amplified. I found myself stressed at work, so very keen to move on and on the verge of tears or panic attacks on the tube because of people shoving and pushing, or walking at me and expecting me to get out the way, taking me over because I wasn’t rushing fast enough from the Jubilee Line to the Northern Line at London Bridge (I’ll probably have nightmares about those tunnels full of angry men rushing into the opposite direction to me). Leaving is always complicated. Whatever sort of leaving you’re talking about. I found I had to stop myself from being too pleased to be leaving because I liked the people I worked with and I didn’t want to offend them. In my last week I did let slip a few times though and I felt loose and happy as I felt with each day how I would be leaving and how the acronyms and the regulations and the shortcuts would no longer matter, even in the small way they seemed to. I wouldn’t have to get the tube to my new job. I wouldn’t have to fight my way between platforms at Bank or London Bridge against crowds most often going in the opposite direction. On my last morning commute someone pushed passed me so forcefully they ripped my headphone cable out of my phone, to which I said rather loudly “THANKS FOR UNPLUGGING MY PHONE YOU ARSEHOLE” Of course people looked around at me and I muttered angrily as I sauntered off in the other direction. I do regret saying that but it seems a bit too perfect that this would happen on my last morning commute. On my last afternoon commute I was so happy I got a friend to take the picture above of me swearing outside Canary Wharf station.
I don’t want to say anything about my new job. Only that it’s a bit more me and I already feel like it’s a step towards what I want to do later on, however that happens. I know it’s unrealistic to say it and idealistic, but please don’t put up with things for longer than you have to, like I did. Especially if those things are making you deeply unhappy and making you not really recognise yourself (calling strangers “ARSEHOLES” on the tube isn’t very “me”). At the moment I feel a little like having a job I don’t hate is a luxury and you deserve that as much as everyone else. Whether it’s your job or relationship or living situation, if you know deep down you’re not happy with it (which you do) please take steps to change it, you’ll thank yourself later and you can celebrate leaving like I did by just fucking off and never going back.