The Job Search Conundrum

It’s been two weeks now since we returned from the hell hole that was Vietnam, and we were instantly propelled into the arduous task of finding a job and getting back to some sort of normality. Prior to leaving for Vietnam back in February my partner worked part time at McDonald’s as it was quick and easy money, she didn’t enjoy it particularly but there was simply no point in getting a long term position somewhere knowing full well that shortly we would be over 6000 miles away. As soon as we returned she slipped straight back into that same fast food making position that she held some months ago, again for the fact it was money coming in whilst she looked for something more permanent and suited to her. Me on the other hand, well I appear to be somewhat difficult when it comes to job hunting.

I never had a paper round as a kid, I was too afraid of bullies and people who may cause me harm as well as the nervousness surrounding the actual doing of the job in question. As I left school and attended college things still didn’t improve as whilst all my friends were getting part time jobs I was still left with a feeling of incompetence and nausea at the thought of work. Many opportunities were presented to me but I simply could not see myself doing any of them or in fact being good at them and so I always declined and spent my college years without work, being incredibly unsociable and still living with parents.

University was meant to be my big break, I moved out of the home I had known for 14 of my then 18 years and moved in with my father who lived in the nearest city of Norwich where I was to undergo a 3 year Photography degree course. Due to my weight at the time of nearly 17 stone I wasn’t the most confident of individuals and so much like my time at college I struggled to be sociable and would spend much of my time at home. Again the idea of a job was dismissed as my feelings regarding my lack of ability rose up each time. I survived my time at University thanks to the support of my father, mother and other family members as well as the small income received from the government for being a full time student.

The completion of my university course was a daunting prospect for me as I knew that my education could really go no further, now was the time to step out into the real world to look for a job and my own place. My first job came some 20 months after I gained that degree in photography and it is fair to say that those months were not easy. During my unemployment I lost 6 stone in weight through hard work at the gym and found myself in my first relationship, which ultimately led to heartbreak and loneliness. I found myself in a pretty depressive state in which I would spend the majority of my time playing my Playstation and getting lost in a virtual world where I could be happy. I preoccupied myself with anything other than looking for job.

The time had to come though when I could resist no longer and marched myself into the jobcentre, signed on and began what would be a 12 month job hunting journey. I remember my first meeting at the jobcentre where I was asked what my skills where and I could barely muster a response, I genuinely felt as though I was simply not qualified to do any of the jobs that were on offer. Sales work required a person good at talking on the phones, I was not. Retail work required someone good at interacting with customers face to face, I was not. You get the idea, and so everything that was put in front of me I quashed with a complete lack of self belief. However in order to fulfill the required needs of the jobcentre I applied for at least 10 jobs a week, and not once out of the hundreds of jobs that I applied for did I ever get called in for an interview. Not the most encouraging of times.

The jobcentre pulled me back down into a depressive state that I had hoped I would not get into again, but there I was hating every second of life with almost no friends or social life to pick me up. Hours and hours of dreaded jobcentre courses filled my time and it is fair to say that none of them helped me find work, in my opinion each course was held because the jobcentre simply didn’t know what to do with these job seekers who had been with them for close to a year. In fact I had been with the jobcentre for so long that they started to put me on the same courses over and over again, I really wasn’t getting anywhere. One day however I stopped going in, stopped turning up for those useless courses and felt I was better off without them.

I attempted to work for myself as well as start up my own business, but that required a large sum of money and as much as I tried to source the funds the idea just didn’t seem feasible. I was never going to go back to the jobcentre but I did do the next best thing, sign up to a recruitment agency. Within days of giving this agency my CV I was called up with news of an interview I had for an administration job that also featured testing, cleaning and repairing camera equipment. The recruitment agency had done in days what the jobcentre could not do in one year which was find a 9-5 full time job that payed well and involved photography, something that I never even believed that I would find.

Work began and over time my confidence rose to its greatest height to date, I settled in well got on with the job and month by month my abilities vastly improved. I finally began to believe in myself, my general anxieties faded and I even began to get comfortable talking with customers over the phone. Finally things were looking up, so much so that after only a year and a half into my first ever job I was promoted to that of Administration Team Leader. I was hesitant but excited to be intrusted with the position and for four months I gave the job everything I had, but as it turned out it just wasn’t a position I was ready for.

The stress and workload that came with the team leader position pushed me too far, I began getting concerned with the amount of work that I had to do so much that I secretly borrowed a work laptop from the IT guys and began to work many nights at home until late. I began to feel like I was losing the enjoyment, I didn’t want to go into work each morning and when I got there I couldn’t wait to leave, and I started to become unsociable, tired and irritable. I began doubting myself again and truly believing that I was simply not good enough to be a team leader, nor anything else. I was returning back to those dark and depressing days during unemployment and I knew that I had to make changes before anything got worse. I knew I had to leave.

Embarrassed and depleted I simply stopped turning up for work, I felt like a failure and couldn’t face my colleagues or my superiors. Getting out of bed became a problem as it offered a warm safe place where I could no longer fail at everything I was doing, but I knew I had to give my job one last try. So I eventually returned but in my previous position before I became a team leader, and for a few days I felt ok but soon once again I simply hated the thought of going into the office. It was during one lunchtime that my mind had decided that it had simply had enough and I walked out never to return, my negative feelings toward my place of work meant that I truly could never turn them into positive ones again.  It was time for a change.

My partner, now my fiance, who also worked in the same office that I did had also left at around the same time to me, for we were going through quite similar situations and we soon bonded further and grew closer. Unlike my demise at work my partner left for different reasons, she in fact got a wonderful opportunity to become a photographer aboard a cruise ship that would be sailing around the mediterranean for 6 months. A dream job for her, and rather surprisingly I somehow managed to join her on the same boat at the same time and in the same position. A new start for the both of us was on the horizon.

Unfortunately after only a few days on board my mental state revealed its weaknesses and I spend almost the entire time on that cruise ship wallowing in self pity within the confines of our tiny cabin. What happened at my previous job had clearly had a bigger effect on me than I realised, and when my mind decided to go into a self doubting meltdown I couldn’t handle it. I was far away from home with no friends, family or home comforts and I was stuck on a ship with no escape, and so I panicked, refused to work or even leave the cabin. Frantically I got in contact with family members and I was to be on the next plane out of Naples, Italy and it’s strange to say this but unfortunately so was my partner. Being a cruise ship photographer was a dream job for her and due to my inabilities and lack of strength I took her away from that, I wanted her to stay but she made the decision to return home with me and support me fully, something that I am forever grateful for. From the moment I got aboard I doubted myself and there was just no turning back, you can’t change the past but I do regret not even giving that job a chance, if not for me then for her.

After the cruise ship ordeal was over I didn’t then get another job for a whole year, instead we both took time out to reconsider what to do in life and how to move forward. This included backpacking around South East Asia and then spending as much time with loved ones as much as we could. As I have written about so much in previous posts it was a Vietnamese hotel that gave me a chance to work again during our ill fated five months living there earlier this year. Despite what people say I still think that I failed at my first attempt at a return to work life, because if I had succeeded then they would have done anything to keep me, not just cast me aside so easily. The only positives I took from the job in Vietnam was that I was able to stick at it for what was four months, and that when I was feeling low and dispirited I pushed through and didn’t just walk away as I had done so many times in the past. They were and are most certainly things to build on now we are back in England, but something is still not right within me.

My anxious mind likes to kick on many occasions, and when it comes to beginning that job search again I can only think about one thing as I endlessly scroll through the many opportunities, and that is failure. In the four jobs that I have obtained in my lifetime I can honestly only say that I have succeeded at one of them, when I was a camera technician, in fact it was the only job that I can say that I enjoyed and felt I was moderately good at. Sadly there is nothing of a similar nature available to me right now and so when I read into the many positions that appear suited to me I feel nothing but a lack of faith in myself. I don’t wish to apply for a job that I am not interested in pursuing however at this moment in time I have no choice, money is severely lacking and there is a distinct pressure on me now to find work. I understand that those close to me just want to see me with money so that I can afford a car again and a place of our own, and so despite my reservations I must power on through. Getting a job that I am not ready for fills me with such high anxieties as I feel that I am not good enough for any of the positions I see, truthfully I don’t. I am just not excited about anything anymore.

Time is running out for me now to find work and I must push on and I will most probably find myself in a job that I do not care about, but it’s not about me right now, it’s about us. Hating going into work each day will undoubtedly happen again as it has done so many times in the past, but money is money and it appears to rule above any form of happiness. Sad but true.

Simon

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