working girl

And so it has come to pass.

The realities of living in London (even the edge of what I would ever properly call London, given that I live hemmed in by retail parks, suburban semis, filth-food drive thrus and, fortunately for my sanity, a National Trust park) have made themselves felt.

I’ve had to get a job.

There was no getting away from it.  As you know, I’m a big fan of whiteboards. But their one downside (apart from the fact that we bought cheap ones, so now have to use an industrial scourer to get the words off), is that when you use them to work out your finances, the truth is writ large.  And virtually indelibly.  And it says “You are officially broke.  You have managed to burn through a frankly incredible amount of money in 18 months.  Unless you get a job, in one month’s time you won’t be able to pay your rent and you’ll have to move back in with your mum.”

The whiteboards can be quite stern at times.

But they seem to know what they’re talking about.  So The Mack and I considered our options. And we came to the conclusion that, since he’s pretty much unemployable (my sisters call him “Tribunal Spice” – they keep warning me that it’s only a matter of time before he sues me for ginger discrimination and that I should be keeping contemporaneous notes of all of our work meetings), the only real option was me going back to work.

I actually took it surprisingly well.  I’m pretty good in a crisis.  I’m also hugely uptight about money. So if you present my choices as being (1) rinse through your remaining savings like you’re a Lawson/Saatchi personal assistant or (2) get a job.  It’s no contest.

I is going to get me a J.O.B.

selling myself short

Anyone else who’s quit their job to try something new will know that the way that you sustain yourself through the standard 4am “oh shit, what the fuck was I thinking, why am I so stupid, how am I ever going to make any money, what an idiot, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid” routine, is to repeatedly tell yourself that it’s fine. That anytime it gets too much, you can walk back into a job.  No problemo.

And it’s pretty easy to believe that.  Because, like all great fairy tales, it doesn’t have any basis in reality. It’s just a nice story that you tell yourself to help you get to sleep.

But then there comes a time when you have to put it to the test.  And it’s stupidly nerve-shredding.  You convince yourself that no-one will hire you. That your 18 month “sabbatical” will most certainly be viewed as a breakdown. You realise that your eagerness to charity shop your entire work wardrobe was a little premature and it’s unlikely that your elasticated house trousers are interview suitable.

You also feel a bit resentful.  What do you mean I have to go to work?  What, like other people? I thought I gave that up?  You don’t want to have to explain your experience, or sell yourself.  You wish that interviewers could just absorb your competency, like osmosis or a big old recruitment sponge.  You’re not ready to be enthusiastic. Or smile. Or nod your head to show great depth of understanding.  Or rearrange your features so you don’t look completely horrified when they talk about clients and contracts.

I had to squash my mortification and get in touch with all my friends who could possible offer me a job.  I was very Britishly self-deprecating and called it my “work scrounge”. I felt embarrassed for asking. But everyone was great and quite a few genuinely tried to help.

Thanks guys. I’m touched.

But in the end I didn’t need it.  I met with one recruitment consultant, interviewed for one job, got it.  All in the space of a week.  It was either incredibly lucky, or showed of a distinct lack of discernment.  On both sides.

Either way, I’m back in the game. It’s a creative environment and the people are nice.  There’s a bar in the office and lots of toast and peanut butter.  Plus it’s only 2 days a week, so hardly even counts.  However, I loathe having to get up early.  The tube journey is hateful.  And I miss my spot on the sofa.  But it’s stopped me moping around the flat and it keeps the wolves from the door.

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Some wolves.

Go away. I’ve got a job.