I didn’t expect for it to be a year between writing entries.
I’ve written a few over the course of the year, and then just… never published them. Why? Fear? Procrastination?
And the answer is… well, I don’t know. A combination of the two.
Maybe I’m just really not sure any of this has any consequence.
Maybe I haven’t had anything to say.
Well, I have. But I haven’t had the balls to write it all down.
No time like the present.
Where did I leave off?
January. What happened in January? I was two months into my new job. By this point, I wasn’t sure about it at all. When I applied for it, I wasn’t sure about it, but I’d been unemployed for two months, and my parents were starting to tell me that I needed to find something as soon as possible. I’d been to two interviews in one week. One of them wanted to meet me again in a week’s time. Another offered me the job on the spot.
I took that one. The wrong one.
By the time January rolled around, my boss had already told me that she didn’t trust me, that she felt nobody would do the job well. That she felt that there had never been a good person in the role, and I wouldn’t be good at it, either. When I told my friends, my colleagues, my parents about this, they all told me the same thing.
“Put your notice in. Run while you still can.”
If you haven’t realised that I’m an idiot by now, you soon will.
When I rolled back in after the Christmas holidays, I was up to my neck in work, working on a paper system that we couldn’t computerise because nobody wanted to. A nasty bit of malware had made it into the system via my work’s email, thanks to someone setting up an internal email made to look like it came from the printers. My boss lost all faith in me, if she’d even had any to begin with. I was made to sit on the floor and file, because I couldn’t be trusted with a computer.
But I still didn’t leave. January was spent filing.
February. February came, and I had my computer back, but I still hadn’t regained the boss’s trust. I’d started to realise that maybe I wouldn’t. So I made it my aim to do things outside of work that I liked. I went to a concert in aid of Safe Gigs For Women with my sister and Charlotte, a friend of ours, for my sixth Frank Turner show, Charlotte’s seventh, and Hannah’s first. There was less than a hundred people in the room, and the experience was magical.
I went on my first srps.me holiday. Never heard of them? They’re a company that acts as a travel agent, sending you to Destination Unknown. The trick is that you specify the dates, and where you want to fly from. They sort out the rest for you. My sister and I needed a break, so we took the plunge. It was early, it was cold, and Manchester Airport isn’t pleasant at the best of times, but we were going to Berlin. I’m a linguist through training, and my sister a historian, so it seemed like the perfect choice.
And Berlin was amazing. I’ve never been to a city that I liked quite so much before. I loved it. We spent days wandering through parks, through busy streets, and around stately homes, and then were lucky enough to spend the evenings at Potsdamer Platz, watching the Berlin Film Festival roll out. When we got to Schönefeld Airport to go back home, I was genuinely sad. I could happily have stayed there, not least because of what I knew awaited me at work.
I don’t remember much happening in March. My Instagram (which I’m using as a memory jogger) has nothing on there for that month.
April, and another very little happened. The main thing I remember is another concert, this time in Manchester. The reason this one sticks out is because of the Surround Bollocking™ I received before I left. My boss tore me a new one, and then called her boss, who came in and ripped me another new one. I got to the station in tears. Again, I was told to quit, and again, I didn’t listen.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, reader, I am a fool.
To remind myself of how bad I was, I took a picture of myself outside the office, one one occasion where I’d been sent outside the building to ‘pull [myself] together, and wait until you’re invited back in’.
That phrase alone should have been a reason to quit, when I think about it. But, as we’ve established, I am a fool and an idiot at times.
The picture shows someone who is absolutely broken. Someone who has nothing at all left to live for. Someone who comes home and cries until it’s time to go to bed. Someone who, on walking past a bridge over a busy dual carriageway every day, considers climbing over the barriers, just to get away from the turmoil work was causing.
May and June rolled into one. At some point, I started learning to drive, for the third time. This time, my instructor had availability, and he turned out to be a great guy. An ex-soldier who used to work on the ambulances, he has stories to tell that you’d never believe. That’s one thing that I’m proud of myself for. My test is booked in for February, and I can’t wait.
Other than that, these two months consisted of the odd city trip with friends, and the rest of it being told by my boss that I was useless, a waste of space, better off dead, and so on and so forth. The insults got worse, and my mental health collapsed. She would only have to look at me in a certain way for me to burst into tears and beg forgiveness, even if I wasn’t sure for what I was begging forgiveness.
At this point, I decided to start looking for a new job. I had had enough. I was sick of coming home in floods of tears.
July marked the end of term, and with the end of term, I got a well-earned week off that my boss tried to make me cancel, because ‘you don’t deserve holidays’. I had a few days in Paris and a few in Brussels, where I met up with two friends of mine I hadn’t seen since we were Erasmus students in Strasbourg some four years ago. In a comic-book shop somewhere in the city centre, I told them about my job, and their faces said it all. In that strange English/French/Greek/Italian hybrid we use to communicate, they told me that in no way should I carry on working there. In no way. That I was better than that. No, niente, absolument pas, no shitty job. Ta chef, she’s a malakas.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, leaving a job is like leaving a bad relationship. As an outsider, you can see that what’s happening isn’t right, and you can tell that person time and time again that it isn’t right, but if they’re not ready, they won’t listen to you.
At that point, I knew I was ready.
So I when I went back to work in August to find a to-do list as long as my arm, and a note to say that ‘if this is not done, you and I will be having words’, I knew that the time was right. My boss would be off for two weeks. Once those two weeks were up, I’d resign.
I worked myself to the bone to get everything done. Concerned colleagues would ask me if everything was okay, and I would smile and nod and refuse help, because I knew that if I accepted it, it would be twisted to say I was incapable. I got it done.
When my boss returned, she spent two weeks screaming at me. When I went to see her to give in my notice, I’d be sent away again. I decided to hunker down and wait out the storm. It would have to be after enrolment. As the Admissions Officer, I couldn’t leave the job half-way through. Or so I thought.
It was about that time that I got the invitation to the job interview.
On GCSE results day. The busiest day of the year for me.
I considered cancelling it, like I’d had to cancel another one because of time restraints. My friends and family all told me I was insane. Reschedule.
So I did. The guy organising it was fine with it, and offered me another date. I just had to deal with my current boss. I made up a sob story about a hospital appointment. She asked every detail. Why, can it wait? When did you see your doctor? Who is your doctor? Where is the centre you go to? What’s your specialist at the hospital called?
She probably made a few calls afterwards. She probably got nothing in return, or a reminder that it breaks various European laws. (Thanks, GDPR!)
The interview went really well.
Sure, I was nervous. Sure, I stumbled a few times, but I’d learned everything inside out. I knew what I was doing.
The next day, the day before the biggest day of the academic year for me, I put in my notice. They hadn’t even offered me the job, but I had a feeling it had gone well. And if it hadn’t, well, I’d just have to find another job. I was ready to leave.
My boss had been foul with me all day, so when I asked for a word, she was as difficult as she could be.
“If you have something to say, let’s say it here. Have it out in the open for us all to hear.”
“Actually, it’s private.”
“Well, you know best, clearly. Go on, then. You decide what’s private and isn’t, seeing as you know more than me.”
I took her down the corridor, to the other end of the atrium, to the coffee shop area, where I’d spent most of my time as a student in that very same college. It seemed like the right place. The place where I’d spent most of my time being happy would be the same place that I would become happy again.
“I’d like to tell you that I’m resigning.”
“Well, it’s a relief. I mean, not that I’m happy, but I am. You can’t carry on like this. You’re upsetting the team. Let’s be honest, you haven’t been the best person for the role.”
As a French flatmate of mine loved to say, oh la garce !
“But you’ve done well. How long have you been here? Ten months. That’s more than most. You know, I’m beginning to wonder if this job is cursed. Nobody lasts in this role very long.”
I wonder why, dear reader. I wonder why.
Four days later, I got the call to be offered the job. I almost bit their hands off to take it.
September arrived, and so did my last day in the office.
My notice period was tough. My boss was nice one minute, awful the next. I had to just roll with it. And so I did.
People started telling me I seemed happier, and asked why. Had I met someone? No, I’d say. Just a change of outlook. I kept the whole leaving thing quiet. I’m guessing most of the teaching staff never knew I was going. And that didn’t bother me. Only three people came to my leaving do, but that didn’t bother me, either. They were the three most important people to me in that place.
I left the pub drunk and happy. The first day of the rest of my life.
October arrived, and I’d had three weeks off between leaving my old job and starting the new one.
In that time, a lot happened. Someone I’d been very close to as a teenager got back in touch. We had a lot of late-night conversations about life, about what we were doing, about what we saw ourselves doing in the future. Talk turned to the past, our past, and things got awkward, and things got difficult and messy. The three weeks off turned into three weeks of not wanting to leave the house.
But again, it’s been a learning experience. It’s been hard, and it’s been humbling at times, and I’ve had to go over things that I wasn’t willing to go over at first, but now I’ve been through it all, I’ve become stronger and wiser, even if, to begin with, it was painful. Again, I’m grateful. This year, like last year, has been about learning, and oh, man, have I learned a lot.
Then it became time to start my new job.
I was scared, I was apprehensive, I was excited, I was everything. A bag of nerves. The good news was that there were five other new starters on that day, which soon dropped to four after someone quit three days in. It was busy, it was pressured, and I’d spend most days falling asleep in front of the TV as soon as I came in through the door, but I was enjoying it.
To be honest, I’m still getting used to going to bed on a Saturday night, and not being stressed about going to bed on Sunday, and working on Monday. It’s a treat.
November came around, and I was finally assigned to a specific team at my new job. The way that it works is that you have a training period, and then they split the new starters up, and assign them to teams. My team is small and tight-knit. Yes, it’s very busy, and at times, it’s incredibly pressured, but I’m enjoying it. It’s like working with a family, and there’s very little in the way of bitching and back-stabbing, like in the places I’ve worked before. It’s made me realise that work doesn’t necessarily have to be about unhappiness.
Then we went on a city break, me, my sister, and Charlotte. We went to Hamburg, because why not? Well, because it was Charlotte’s twenty-fifth birthday, and we’d bought tickets to see Frank Turner (who else?) in Hamburg. And again, it was fantastic. We took photos, we got lost, we ate food that we’d never have tried in our hometown, and we had an amazing time at the barrier for a concert with awful acoustics, but a great atmosphere. It turns out we’re so well-suited as travel buddies that we’re going away again at some point in the New Year. Probably another trip to Destination Unknown. And I can’t wait.
December. My turn to turn twenty-five, exactly three weeks after Charlotte did. And you know what? It’s not as scary as it’s made out to be. It’s just another day. Sure, you’re half way to fifty, and that’s scary, but what I found more interesting is to look back, and look back at how much I’ve been through, and how much I’ve learned in the past few years. How much I’ve grown. And how much I’ve changed.
You know what? Maybe this year, with all of its tests and its struggles, hasn’t been quite so bad after all.
And this is where we are. Staring down the last few hours of the year. This time last year, I was about to go out in town, hit up an 80s bar, and get wasted, bumping into half of my high school class, and talking a friend down out of a panic attack after seeing a fight break out in the smokers’ area. This year, it’s takeaway and Netflix.
Maybe I am getting older after all.
But that’s not a bad thing.
Next year brings more challenges. Passing my driving test, for one. Getting involved in various forums at work. Hopefully making progress in my life, be that travelling, or getting my own place, or going back to study, or maybe none of the above.
But that’s not so bad.
I used to think that I was having a quarter-life crisis, that I was lost and that I didn’t know where I was going. And I still don’t know where I’m going, but you don’t have to know.
This year coming isn’t a year for which I’ll be setting targets and goals. My only goals are to be happy and to be healthy.
I think that’s a good start.
Maybe we’ll chat at some point in the New Year. If not, then we’ll see each other at this point next year.