Happy Wednesday everyone, how are you? Today I want to talk a little bit more about work and careers and how it feels to finally have hit your stride with something.
As I explained in this post my career path has been one, not exactly of twist and turns, but definitely of wibble wobbles. To recap, I currently work as a theatre programmer (I pick which shows go on) and before this I was a community artist (working with people with Alzheimers) a writer and performer (I make solo shows about life) and a children’s storyteller (brackets entirely unneccessary). That’s the edited version. The version that makes sense on my CV. And the version, that has not only recently begun to make sense to me, but has also begun to feel real.
When you step out of the world of education and into the one of work, it can all seem a bit cruel and sudden, and it can also seem a little bit like a dream. Nobody sits you down and says ‘this is how to be a grown up’ and when you get your degree, you’re never given a piece of paper that says ‘Stephie can be an Adult now.’ Wouldn’t that be nice? Something real to hold on to and pose with?
The fact is, on your first day of work, you walk into your office, sit at computer, and begin to act the way you’ve always imagined people with jobs do. You check your emails, you count your tea breaks, and at the end of the day, you’ve achieved something, although your not always sure what.
I hope at this point, your still with me, and that I’m not the only person who has felt this way!
You see the thing is I got what my parents would call ‘my first real job’ nearly 3 years after graduating, and for a while, I wasn’t sure it was real. I was doing stuff, good stuff, but I still spent a good while being afraid that somebody one day was going to turn around and say ‘hang on, you’re not a real person’ but at some point along the line all that changed. The novelty of having a desk and an inbox full of things other than ASOS newsletters wore off, and I just started to get on with it. I can’t put my finger on the exact point when this has happened, but I’m now very aware that actually this is real.
The things I put on my CV, I can proudly say I have done, and I can say it with conviction. I’m no longer afraid that somebody is going to try and pull of my mask. These grown up wrinkles are real, I worked hard and stressed hard to get them. And actually that’s a damm good feeling.
Yesterday I was at an amazing event with work, where I bumped into a whole bunch of people I’d met at different stages of my career path, and when they asked what I was doing, I answered without even thinking about it. Not by trying to over explain myself, not with an awkward shuffle, and not with any sort of self deprecation.
I guess it’s happened. I guess I’m a grown up.
So here is my advice to you, if you’ve just come out of uni, or actually you’re 10 years down the line, and still don’t feel like you’ve hit your stride. Our careers, if we want them to, make up a big chunk of our life. I think half the reason I struggled so much with summing up what I did, was because I see it as a big part of my identity. This isn’t the case for everyone, and that’s ok, but if you are still trying to find your feet and your confidence, it can take time, but trust your gut. If your gut is telling you that this is the right direction, but your not far enough down the line to be able to say where your going just yet, that’s ok, follow your gut one step at a time. But if the reason you feel like your pretending is because when you talk about your job, it feels like somebody elses life, a life you’re not connected too, it might be time to go back to the map and work out a different route. It’s scary, and it isn’t easy, and I don’t have any concrete directions, but all I do know is that from everything I have done, I have learnt something, something that has helped get me to where I am. And if you see every experience, job interview, and tough Monday as a chance to learn something about yourself, then it won’t go wasted.
Live life & fake it until you become it x
ps. If you liked this, you might like a blog I wrote for work, about what it’s like to have a job your nan doesn’t understand.