Thursday, 17 January 2013

An Epiphany in Paris

An anonymous guest blog post about how sometimes you just gotta get up and change the things that make you unhappy. Especially after having been to Paris. It goes a little like this....

„Six months ago I gave up a well paid job in social marketing for a minimum wage position in a care home. Some of you may find this admirable, some may think I'm martyring myself and some might be so overwhelmed by my career change that they might want to buy me dinner (you can get my number from Linda) But overall, I'd guess that most of your reactions would be "Why?" Why would you give up a career in an exciting, fast-moving and lucrative industry for a stressful and low-paid role in care?

I reached a point of no return, a clarifying moment that pushed me to make a huge change in my life. A moment that fancifully happened on a holiday to Paris. I had a tearful epiphany in L'Isle Saint Louis, behind Notre Dame. Let it never be said that I do things by halves.

See, I'd had a stressful few months. Those involved in marketing will know that despite a projected image of Hoxton hipsters lounging on vintage office chairs and trading cat videos, it's not an industry for those immune to hard work. Sure, there's perks and a generally casual and chatty office dynamic, but you pay for that in late nights, weekend work and some truly horrific clients. (If any of my former clients are reading this, it's not you. Honestly.)

Social marketing has all the trappings of a 9 - 5 job, but the nature of the beast means that it's constant. Your work is never truly done and a crisis could happen at any time. Forget guiltily checking emails at the weekend, logging into Facebook and Twitter is enough for you to spot something connected to one of your clients, and dependent on your mental strength can give you something to worry and stress about for the whole weekend. Add to this ambitious targets which need to be hit month on month and you've got a recipe for sleepless nights and worried weekends.

Now, some of you will be positively salivating at the prospect of hitting targets and being on constant alert. And hey, more power to you, go for that job in social. But it wore me down. I have many qualities that made me good at my job, a thirst for learning, good communication skills and a creative streak. But unfortunately, a hunger for targets and a nose for negotiation (I'm not sure that even makes sense, but let's go with it) are not in my wheelhouse.
Ever felt like you didn't belong? That creeping feeling that you're an imposter, not meant to be somewhere? That's how I felt. As I struggled to hit targets and produce results, my resolve began to falter and I began to ask myself some serious questions. Was a job that left me unable to enjoy my weekends and evenings worth it? Did the decent salary and social events make up for that sick feeling in my stomach when I approached the door on a Monday.

Short answer: no. So after my Parisian wobble, I handed in my notice. I was half expecting some last minute regrets as I walked out of the door on my last day, but apart from the sadness of leaving some lovely workmates behind, I felt free. Scared of the unknown future, but free of the marketing-shaped albatross that had hung around my neck and pecked at my self-respect.

I left my lovely rented flat, and moved back in with my parents. My furniture went into storage and I started scouring the job boards. I had an inkling that I might be suited to a caring role, having taken on some volunteer work at university and loved it, so I went for every entry-level role that I could find. After a few weeks, I got an interview and almost immediately, a job offer. I found a friend foolish enough to let me move in with her and the rest is history (or the last 4 months of my life, at least)

And here I sit, in my bed, resting up for my next 12 hour shift and writing this down. I go home from work exhausted, I've experienced death several times and I've seen the heartbreaking effects of dementia on old and frail people. It's so hard. But you know what? I can do it. I'm not perfect at it and I still have terrifying moments where my confidence falters. But I fit this job. I go to work and see the foundations of a challenging and rewarding career that I can do. I've never been happier."

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