I Quit.

Just over twelve months ago, I turned up in Chester in a blouse I’d bought especially for the occasion, a pair of black trousers I only wear for funerals, and the jacket my mother bought when she returned from maternity leave in 1996.

In short, I looked out of my depth.

I was.

I interviewed for the position. Tech Support. Sounded okay. I fucked up the interview, telling my soon-to-be manager that many pharmaceutical companies are corrupt, and squeeze every penny out of their patients. I probably looked desperate. But so was my manager.

I got the job.

Being fresh out of uni, I wanted to make a good impression. When they asked me to stay late, I did. When they asked me to come early, I did. When I had to work all the bank holidays, I did. I gave up any chance of a social life to make life easier for my boss and my new colleagues.

But it took its toll.

During my summer holiday, I went to the Baltics with my sister. We spent a week hanging out with a friend of mine, wandering through northern Lithuanian countryside, visiting castles and lakes and forests. My friend told me, in no short terms, that my colleagues were taking the piss, and I should start afresh. My parents told me the same. Move in with us. You won’t have to pay rent. Just until you can get back on your feet again. It’s not permanent.

At first, I balked at it. Moving back to the edges of the suburbs, where I had no way of getting around, where I had to rely on hourly buses to get into the next town, where I felt trapped.

And then I went back to work.

It was hell from the moment I walked in.

When one Friday, about a month or so later, a well-meaning colleague turned around on a day we were chronically understaffed, and told me another colleague had written a report for my boss that concluded I was lazy, and implied that he may advocate for my sacking, I made a decision.

On the Monday, the last bank holiday of the summer, I handed my notice in.

I spent all of that morning panicking, messaging my friends, my sister, my mother, some old colleagues, telling them I was scared. I spent over an hour staring at a blank Skype message to send to my boss. When I finally plucked up the courage to ask for a private word, it felt surreal. I’d never quit anything before. It felt just… wrong, somehow. I don’t consider myself a quitter. I never have.

Then, when he came to fetch me, it didn’t go as badly as I’d hoped.

He chatted to me about his weekend, and asked how I was. I told him straight.

“I wanted to let you know I’m resigning.”

Gave him a letter. Told him I needed to find something new. That if I don’t go now, I never will.

He didn’t seem shocked. Said it was a shame. Said if I ever needed a job, to call him, and he’d help me out.

Telling my colleagues was harder. I told three in person, and cried three times telling them. I sent an email to the rest of the team. The emails started coming in. We’ll miss you, we wish you all the best, we hope you enjoy your next adventures. People started saying the team would fall apart without me taking all the bad shifts. Other colleagues told me I was dreaming, that I was throwing away an amazing opportunity. The company had spent a lot on training me, and I was spitting in their faces. Why didn’t I just move to another department?

I had to shrug and tell them I wanted to enjoy being in my twenties.

One evening, as I packed up, Julio stopped me.

Julio and I never always got on. When I started working there, he pushed me as far as he could, until I broke down in the office. After they moved me across the office, we started to get on better. We started to understand each other more. He told me about his life, his kids, his exes, his former jobs. I told him about my life, university, my family. We were on the same level.

And he could read my mind.

“Yeah, so this you leaving thing. Is this because, I don’t know, the pressure’s too much? Like, the call volume, the antisocial hours, nobody gives you a break?”

Got it in one.

“Yeah, you need to try things. You’re young. When I was your age, I had a new job every year.”

I had to hold my tongue to not tease okay, Dad. I knew he was right.

The weeks rolled on. On the Thursday, my boss shook my hand, told me he wouldn’t be back until after I left. Could we do leaving drinks then, maybe? I said I’d see what I could do.

The last few days raced past. I walked in on the Wednesday with a spring in my step. One colleague asked me if I was going to cry, and everyone laughed. I told them no, maybe a bit quickly, maybe sounding a bit too happy. They looked shocked. Julio told me I looked happier, less over-tired.

“You’ve looked kind of burned out for months.” He said, over the tubs of chocolates I’d brought in. “You look a lot happier.”

A colleague escorted me out, took the same bus as me. As she went back to her house, I leaned back in my seat and almost cried.

I’m free.

Yes, right now I’m unemployed. But I’m more than happy to be that right now. Life is on the up.

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I burned out.

Twelve months ago, I’d just started my final ever university exams. I was a bit stressed out, but nothing I couldn’t handle. There were a few things going on in my personal life that weren’t at all easy, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with.

And then real life started. I sweat blood and tears into applying for a degree I couldn’t afford, and deferred it at the very last moment. I was so upset over that, upset at the prospect of being stuck at home with my parents. I wanted independence, goddammit. So, I took up the first job offer I got, and moved away.

It turned out that job just wasn’t for me.

So, there I was, in a new city, where I knew nobody, where my job made me work antisocial hours, where I became depressed and despondent, and dreamed of going back to where I studied. Then all my friends told me they’d be moving away, too. I’d be starting over, but it would only be worse.

Have you ever heard of Bref? It’s a French TV show, every episode only a few minutes long. A bloke, probably in his thirties, talks very, very, very quickly about his life, always starting with the word bref, anyway. And one episode stands out. It’s called Anyway, I was depressed.

He goes out with his friends, has a good night, puts the wrong key in the lock, and he starts to cry. And he cries for weeks. His friends tell him he’s depressed. And one day, he hits rock bottom. He realises he has to do something about it.

And that’s kind of what happened to me.

I’ve known for the last month or so that I was close to burnout. But then one evening, I did. I went out with some colleagues for a meal. A great meal in a great place. I had a great night. Got home, chatted to some uni friends, and started to cry. But properly crying. Big, ugly sobs. I haven’t cried that hard in years.

I went home to see my parents the weekend before, and had a long chat with my mother. We hatched a plan, after I got my thoughts out in the open. I’d quit my job and move back home. I’d learn to drive, save some money, then maybe go back to uni. And that plan’s given me a bit more life.

Back to the depression. I feel fucking flat. I’ve finally hit rock bottom. I’ve been floating around near the plughole for a while, but I’ve always managed to pull it back. Not this time. I think at work, some of my colleagues have noticed. They keep asking me if I’m okay, saying I look sad. I keep telling them yes, I’m fine, I’m just tired. I’m not sure they believe me.

But I’m sick of lying awake at night and crying and feeling like I have no escape. Because I do. I know my life is worth more than this. It’s worth more than telling people how to find Caps Lock, or how to print a document using an iPad. I have brains, brains that are rotting, brains that I want to use. So I’m getting my life back. It’ll be slow, and it’ll be at times painful and embarrassing, but it’s got to be done if I want my life back.

So I’m doing it. Just watch this space.

I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.

(This may make no sense – it was first written before Christmas, while doped up on cold and flu medication with a fever – but I still think it was a point worth making.)

When I was sixteen, taking AS-Levels at a sixth-form college in Stoke-on-Trent, I spent a lot of my afternoons waiting for classes to start in a tiny corridor that only languages students seemed to be able to find. Taking French and German, I knew this corridor very well indeed.  In that little bit of time I had for myself, I’d sit there with my iPod nano (remember those?) plugged in, listening to whatever came up on shuffle. I was just getting into discovering things that weren’t My Chemical Romance or Green Day or Muse, and, in true hipster teenager style, I’d kind of fallen across The Smiths. Okay, I’d discovered them through a Muse cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, but I was soon digging my way through back catalogues. My German teacher, an ageing former goth, would frequently ask me what I was listening to. I’d tell him, and it was usually Muse, except for one occasion, when I announced I was listening to The Smiths. He looked at me, and shook his head in disbelief.

“You’re too young to listen to The Smiths.” He said.

I thought he was wrong. I understood The Smiths. Of course I did. I was seventeen. My whole life had changed over the course of five months. I’d changed schools, made new friends, lost old ones, and I’d just lost my grandmother. Add that to battling what I now know to be anxiety and depression, and I thought I knew it all.

Except I didn’t.

For years, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was my jam. I knew how it felt. I was miserable, watching my friends get loved up, leaving me behind in the dust trails of their new-found lust. That’s a thing I genuinely wrote at that age. Cringeworthy. For years, (and perhaps it still is), my Valentine’s Day tweet would be ‘two lovers entwined pass me by, and heaven knows I’m miserable now’. Because I just got it. But this isn’t what I’m on about. It’s the line afterwards. For the uninitiated, it’s in the title.

When you’ve just graduated, the next obvious step is getting a job. You put your heart and soul into it. Maybe you’re lucky, and you get an offer straight away. Maybe you’re not. Maybe after a month, two months, six months, a year, you’ve still found nothing. And you get desperate. You take what you can. And sometimes it doesn’t work out.

Sometimes you find yourself sitting at your desk, wishing for it to be 6:30, so that you can go home. And then you go home, and you’re knackered, so you can’t be bothered to go out. Maybe you’ve moved towns and know nobody in the new one. Maybe the weekends are lonely, and the weeks are exhaustingly long. Suddenly, you find yourself wishing you’d just got a retail job in your uni town, scraping pennies at the end of the month, but at least you’d have a decent social life. But then again, you didn’t get a degree to work a zero-hours contract in Sports Direct. You went in to try to better your prospects. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by giving up a well-paid job just so you could have a life.

Or would you? I’m of the strong belief that we only live once. Once you die, that’s it. No more, no second chances. I don’t want to find myself on my deathbed, wishing that at twenty-two, I packed that job in earlier. I want to look back and know that for the most part, I was happy, and I hope that I’ll have no regrets.

Why am I worried about this? I don’t want to give away too many details; I’m probably identifiable enough as it is on here. All I can say is that I’ve realised that my job is not as stable as it seemed. If I were living with my parents, it’d be no big deal if I got sacked. I’d just find another job. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying rent – their insistence, not mine – and living costs would be lower than where I currently live. Here, though, it’s different. I’ve got rent to pay, and it’s not cheap. My paycheck more than covers it, thankfully, but if I lost my job on Monday, I wouldn’t be able to stay here until my contract finished. If I take on a longer placement here, and lose my job, I’ll forfeit the deposit, which is no small sum. It’s worrying.

But then again, I’m lucky enough to have found a job. Some of my friends are still unemployed, after months and months of searching and very few responses, none of them positive. I know I shouldn’t turn my nose up at such a fantastic opportunity, but it’s all getting me down. I had a sort of appraisal recently, and my boss asked me how happy I was in my personal life. I told him a barefaced lie. I told him I was relatively happy. I’m not. I’m worn out.

Maybe Col was right. Maybe I was far too young to appreciate The Smiths.