Five weeks ago, I was told my ‘job was at risk’; it was ‘potentially to be made redundant’; and I was to ‘enter consultation’. In plain English, that translates as ‘you’re fired!’
The strange thing was, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. In fact, I was strangely excited — and a bit ashamed of being so.
I knew I should be devastated. Everyone was sympathetic and consoling. I felt odd, unsettled, a little worried, sure. But the overwhelming feeling rising in my chest was excitement for a new challenge, a fresh start, a better job — that I now had all the time in the world to find and apply for. What’s more, my boss’s kindness meant I never had to come into work again and would be paid for doing what I liked for two weeks. Brilliant!
Was it ridiculous to be looking forward to spending time at home with my (also unemployed) boyfriend? Would my happiness reveal to everyone that I was a fraud, who didn’t want my job and was glad to be leaving? I just hoped that everyone would see it as me being inordinately positive in the face of misfortune, as per usual — either that or in denial. And maybe I was a little in denial. Did I not realise that I had lost my income and a job I liked, working with people that I really liked?
It felt exhilarating to leave the office in the middle of the day, leaving a piece of work unfinished. I thought I’d treat myself to an afternoon of clothes shopping just because I could, before realising I’d feel too guilty to be frivolously spending the money I now needed to live on for the foreseeable future. So after phoning Steve to share with him my guilty joy, I went straight home to join him on the sofa. I felt as if I’d feigned illness, been sent home and was now reaping the lazy benefits of my lie.
Unemployment had good parts and bad parts.
- Lazing in bed until 10am
- Wearing my fluffy pink and white polka-dot dressing gown for most of the day
- Making hot lunches and eating them in front of the tv
- Going to the supermarket when it’s quiet
- Spending time on cooking dinner and eating it early in the evening
- Taking doctor’s appointments at any time of the day
- Going to the zoo on Valentine’s Day
- Going to the park on warm sunny days
- Staying up late to watch that tv programme, because I don’t need to be up early in the morning
- Playing Tetris Battle on Facebook
- Enjoying short breaks in Nottingham, Loughborough and Edinburgh
- Feeling lethargic all day (partly due to getting up late and living in dressing gown)
- Seeing the same four walls every hour of the day
- Becoming too lazy to do all the useful things (cleaning the house, washing clothes, organising things) that I swore I’d do once I had the time
- Effectively gaining a more-than-full-time job (around 91 hours per week) of seemingly never-ending searching and applying for jobs
- Missing my friends at work
- Missing Stylist magazine each week
- Not allowing myself to shop
- Starting to notice and regret the money I spend travelling
- Going to job interviews
- Waiting for phone calls and e-mails that never come
- Receiving job rejections
- Reluctantly going to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance only to be told weeks later I’m not entitled to anything
The average day went as follows:
- Get out of bed at 10am
- Put on dressing gown
- Turn on TV for Homes Under the Hammer
- Eat breakfast
- Go through job alerts
- Apply for jobs mentioned in alerts one-by-one
- Stop for lunch midway
- Continue to apply for jobs, maybe searching for more on other websites
- Stop for a Tetris Battle break
- Continue to apply for jobs
- Cook and eat dinner
- Continue to apply for jobs (flagging now)
- Watch TV and have some pudding or tea and chocolate
- Look at the jobs I still need to apply for tomorrow
- Go to bed at around 1am
There were other days that ended up being incredibly busy — travelling to places as far as Windsor for job interviews, receiving multiple calls from recruiters, squeezing in a trip to the supermarket to replenish the milk, cooking and eating a quick dinner and finally going to Camden for a night out with friends. In fact, with up to three interviews a week in different places, at times my life felt more frantic than it ever had been in employment.
And then — after a spell of second interviews and waiting weeks to hear back from employers — I was offered a job within a day of applying for it. I sent off a quick application one morning (one of many) and that afternoon was invited for an interview. The interview was the next day and a few hours within returning home, I was phoned and offered the job. If only all applications could be dealt with so quickly! I excitedly accepted it.
Things became complicated the next day, when, engaged in being an extra in my friend Breezewax‘s first music video, I received an email from another employer saying they knew I’d already accepted a job, but would I like to come to work for them instead. This second employer was offering the same money, in addition to travel expenses, and another job I would gladly have taken. Being indecisive as I am, this put me in turmoil for the rest of the day and night.
I made my decision the following day — deciding to stay with the orginal one I’d already accepted. This job, as a staff writer for a set of business journals, is different to the majority of those for which I’d applied and will take me in a new direction — into writing, where I’ve always known I belonged. It is the new challenge for which I’ve been searching and I’m nervous and excited to take it by the horns; to see where it will take me.
I start on Tuesday — wish me luck!