Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Working my way back to you

I call this my Grown Up Coat.

I don't wear it often, probably because a classic camel coat just doesn't feel like me, but it's great quality, and it seems a shame not to give it an airing now and again.

I wonder if it has hidden powers which provoke me to introspection? The last time I wore it, I felt aimless, adrift and dissatisfied. My Lucy Jordan moment...

And I've been pondering my situation again, reflecting on my recent experience of work, and as some of you have asked me what I thought about it all, I shall try to tell you. (The adage Be careful what you wish for may apply here.)

Did I love it? Not really.
Did I hate it? Not really.

I felt largely indifferent to the nature of the work itself, although I tried to approach it willingly. I found it tiring, and some of the late hours were hard going. Standing in the cold and rain at a lonely city centre bus stop at nearly midnight, waiting for the last bus which didn't come, I did think to myself what the fuck am I doing this for?

But I know my reasons;
it was a place to start, a cautious re-entry into the wonderful world of gainful employment, it brought in some extra cash to help pay for Christmas and the long dreary month that is January, it will hopefully provide a reference and useful recent work experience.

And if I'm honest, I enjoyed the fact of having a job again. Part of that is novelty value for me, admittedly, but I liked being able to give a straightforward answer to the question are you working? No need for a point-to-prove response about unpaid employment in the home or being a volunteer, a simple yes will do.

The bit I really enjoyed was the people.

Most of the customers I encountered were polite, pleasant and friendly, even when I didn't know the answers to their questions...

  I had some lovely chats with people while working on the fitting room.

 I talked babies with an exhausted and pregnant Mexican woman, slumped on the sofa while her husband tried on jeans, who was looking forward to flying home for Christmas.

 I sympathised with the self-conscious young man surrounded by his mum, sisters and girlfriend. all offering their views on the shirts he was trying on.

I laughed out loud at the bloke strutting down the fitting room corridor wearing swimming shorts and socks, while his wife hid her face in her hands and said no one else should have to see that! 

 I was amused by the woman who instructed her mortified but smiling husband to turn around and show me his backside to assess the fit of his Wranglers.


And I discovered there is a strange satisfaction in sorting out a display table or rails. It's called recovery; all that relentless putting back of stock where it should be, doing up buttons and zips, putting clothing in size order, folding jeans and jumpers, picking up the rubbish people leave behind, the broken hangers, the stock dropped on the floor...

Of course as soon as you've done it, like Sisyphus, you have to start all over again...

At some stage during a very busy Boxing Day shift, one of the supervisors, an endlessly cheery and bustling young man, asked me to tidy up the displays on "small leathers" - wallets, bags, belts, leather gifts like notebooks, boxes, tablet covers, etc.
This I did. He came over later and said wow, I didn't expect that, it's looks great, you've worked really well today, Curtise.
Hmmm. So what didn't he expect, exactly? That I was capable of tidying a display? That I could make reasonable judgments about how to organise products? That I could replace wallets and belts in boxes, and line them up on a shelf? That I would stick at it until it was done?

I wasn't expecting my reaction either; part ooh, you noticed, thank you! and part wtf? I've just been praised by someone young enough to be my son for performing a basic task which my kids could probably have done equally well.
Is it good practice for supervisors to praise and thank their staff? Of course. Did I feel ever-so-slightly patronised? Err, might have.

 The thing is, I am a bit of an intellectual snob. There, I said it. 
I am still approaching my own employment within the context of my previous career.  I used to be the manager, the supervisor, the one who directed and reviewed the work of my team, I was senior and responsible and experienced in my field. But my professional days are long gone, my career dead and buried, and I need to move on. I can't exist in a time warp where my expectation level is high, but my skill level and employability are low; something has to give, and I think it's my ego.

So having pondered what I could or should do next, I have applied for a job working as a stockroom assistant for a clearance outlet. It's local, and only a handful of hours, so no more long commutes and late finishes. It's minimum wage, and doesn't sound especially taxing, although once again, the recruitment process would have you believe it is a Very Serious Business. I've passed the online application stage, and am waiting to see whether I will be given an interview.

I'll let you know.

1970s Alexon wool/faux fur coat, dress and cardigan - charity shopped (my kind of retail)
Ankle boots - community fair
Scarf and bangle - gifts
Tapestry tote bag - made it myself
Beret - quiz prize

A final Debenhams incident on which to reflect.
One of the permanent members of staff commented to me that she had assumed I was a visiting rep when I arrived at the till point and asked for the department manager on my first day. Another colleague chimed in, and said she had imagined I was a manager from another store, come for a meeting. 
They were teasing me, I know, and laughing at the disconnect between how I speak and present myself, and the truth of my lowest-of-the-low status as Christmas temp with absolutely no retail experience. And it was funny, their assumptions being so very out of step with reality, and although they didn't know it, so very in step with my own feelings. One of the women added, So you must have something about you then...

That remains to be seen.

So. What do you think about work? Are you lucky enough to love what you do, or make a living out of what you love?
Is work a toad squatting on your life or to be embraced as a friend? A necessary evil, good fun, fulfilling or mind-numbing?
Does what you do fit with your concept of yourself?


Anonymous said...

Before kids when I was still working full time I had grown increasingly frustrated with work and how it drained me if time and energy when my soul was busting to have time and space to be creative and fun. These days work for me is looking after my family as well as continuing to peruse my dreams with my little business. I have hopes and plans of things being more than a little money spinner but something that contributes to our family. I have about a five year window to do that, because once Fraser is in school hubby is keen for me to help within the family business. I don't fancy doing the work he does, so I'm using that as personal drive in a positive way to make things happen with my own plans. Although I will be paid a wage in my husbands business, the bottom line is my soul will be most happy if I'm doing what feels right and most aligned with me. At worst I will end up doing both but at least hubby understands and recognises I will need time and conditions to manage both.

Connie said...

Oh Curtise! I could have written this post myself! Except that I don't own such a beautiful no nonsense coat! Just like you I gave up a busy career to tend to the kiddos and threw myself into volunteering until I decided to go back into the career only to find that I had been left behind by the technological revolution (this was truly a Downton Abbey moment). So I work retail where I have met some BRILLIANT women who are going through the same thing we are. I like talking to the nice customers and the mean ones provide some interesting stories. I, too, am a bit of an intellectual snob but I pounce on the employee discounts like a starving squirrel on breadcrumbs. You can be my supervisor any day!

Sandra said...

it is a lovely coat, grown up and everything, you look very glam and like a 1940's movie star! it's a great post Curtise, I never have had a career, just jobs where I worked around the kids, I find my current job ok, I like the people, I find 'feedback' difficult and other bollocks stuff, where I have to accept it and I don't want to, work provides me with money, It fulfills my parent financial responsibility and will never suppress my urge to have a laugh, in work or out, it is just work and I gotta do it! x x x

Liz said...

I've given up! Being interviewed by young "management types" whose grammar made me cringe was soul destroying. Never really thought of myself as a snob before! Also got fed up being asked why I wanted the job when I was over-qualified ... the money, stupid!
Ah well, at least now I've got time to wander round the charity shops when I feel like it!
Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

Asparagus Pea said...

You know that last list of questions? Yes to all of them! Managing to make a living out doing anything that doesn't make you want to gauge your eyes out with a spoon is a right result. I've done glamorous/high stress/high reward and now doing low paid/ no career prospects/ gentler pace. Pros and cons for both x

Pam in Texas said...

Well done Curtise, I can so empathise with you.
Prior to my first marriage I was an office manager in local government. I loved it. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I loved each stage and looked forward to work every day. Then overnight, became a Mum to my 18 month old stepson, I became a stay at home Mum.
Ten years later we emigrated to the US for my husband's work. Five years on and my husband had a mid life crisis and decided he liked a 25 year old better than me and disappeared into the sunset.
When he left, I signed on with a temp agency and had some interesting work experiences. One time I was two days into a job with a small airline as a switchboard operator and one of their planes crashed. I still do not know how I coped with the onslaught of calls that day.
Then I was offered a permanent job as office manager for a Dermatologist. I think the doc liked me for my British accent as much as anything. Early weeks there were tough, it was out of my field and I really did not know what I was doing. The first week the doc asked me to help with a surgical procedure, just to hand him instruments etc. I do not know how I stayed upright, I had never seen such things.
But I learnt as I went along and was with him for seven years.
Now I am partly retired. I do a lot of mystery shopping and focus groups, for which I get paid for my reports. Also do online selling, still trying to sell all my 70's, 80's clothing which I have carted all over the world.
Very best wishes to you, you will do well in whatever is your chosen path.
Love from Pam in Texas. xx

Miss Magpie said...

It's interesting to hear you say that about having been a manager and now doing something where you are managed. I know my current boss wasn't sure about giving me this job as she was worried over just that fact. But 23 years in a library is a bit damn specialist and doesn't exactly qualify you for 'ordinary' work, so it was hard to find things I could do. On the whole I like not having the responsibility any more, I do have to bite my tongue on some occasions though!
Fingers crossed for the new job, someone said to me when I was unemployed be open to any possibility as you never know where it will lead, a damn good piece of advice. x

Lucy Nation said...

Oh Curtise I love this post and I truly admire your attitude to work. I totally relate to your feelings of disconnect between how you speak and present yourself as opposed to your employee status. I am a medical secretary and sometimes feel so loathe to tell people what I do. I too struggle with an inflated ego and the feeling that what I do is beneath me. I hate to admit it but yes I am a snob. When I see teachers, or medical professionals etc who are clearly younger than me I wonder what on earth I've done with my life to end up in an outdated subservient line of work that will no doubt duly be taken over by voice recognition and tablets. I am only part time but somehow that makes it worse for me because I doubly resent the time I have to spend in work. Then I try to think of how lucky I am to have a job with flexible hours, a good boss, decent wages and great colleagues. Plus the fact my contact with the public is minimal which suits my introverted personality and my borderline misanthropy. I have done shopwork in the past and just found working with people so damn hard.
In truth, it is all down to my aimlessness and lack of motivation at school.
Thank you for this well thought out post which has really struck a chord.
I think the compliment on your display skills was meant in a kind way despite its artlessness. Maybe visual merchandising is something you could consider for future roles xxx

Patti said...

So well said, Curtise. I have had many jobs where there was a disconnect between my self-image (I am a bit of an intellectual snob) and the work required. I hope I was as gracious and reliable as you've been at your place of work.

When I applied at the community mental health center where I've now been for 13+ years, I had to go through the same front desk as the patients. I asked for Dr. So and So, and the clerical person looked at me and said, "you're not a patient, are you?" So I guess I have a scrap of the "presence" your co-workers noted in you. And I certainly could have been a patient, I don't have it all worked out yet! Love your yarn jewelry and your grown-up coat, you look marvelous. And smart too. xoxo

Anonymous said...

ummm I've just put in for Early Retirement pffftt which is a bit heavy going as I'm 'retiring' to become self-employed. Fed up already with assumptions that I'm giving up work to sit on my arse all day...

Trees said...

This is a really interesting post, i'm sure if you started in the stockroom, it wouldn't take you long to move on up in the business if that's what you wanted. I worked in retail through uni and think I saw the best and very worst if human behaviour in those retail jobs! As for my current job I mostly like it - I mean its a very good job and many people would love a stable, interesting job like mine. But then I part of me always thinks I want to travel and teach again....

Sacramento Amate said...

So good to see you so fantastic in the New Year.

ayoung70 said...

Fellow intellectual snob here in a low-paying, no advancement type of situation. The pros: no heavy responsibilities, extremely stable and secure, and paid health care (in the US, this is big). Also, my co-workers know I'm very smart and ask me for help all the time, so I feel at least acknowledged as smart. For what it's worth.

Ariane Lasalle said...

Tks for your comments on my last blog, i try not think as deeply as you, it gives me a headache;) Hope you know that I'm joking of course! i think you are so great!

Anyway...i don't like to work, never like to work and at my age I'm lucky that i'm working for decent, caring people - Plus they don't mind if i dress like a friggin bright neon sign, so I'm not complaining! They pay me well and have lots of vacation! I hate with all my heart the friggin commute, people are rude, grey and dull-
I'm looking forward to retirement so much - looking forward to do whatever i like at whatever time!

It must be hard for you but i guess this is the thing to do to get back on the market and have some financial independance


Angels have Red Hair said...

I'm just like you ... used to be on an actual career path and then gave it all up to have babies.
So now ... after almost 17 years (OMG) out of the workforce (other than a brief stint when we really needed some extra money) ... I feel about as employable as tits on a bull.
Hubby would love me to "go back" ... but I don't feel there is any going back ... it would be starting over ... and the mere thought of the application/interview process freaks me out! As dramatic as it sounds I feel like my working expiry date is up.
But then again maybe I'm just lazy and making excuses.
Sounds like you've done well ... and if all you have to do is tidy displays ... then at least it's not going to keep you awake at night.

Krista Gassib said...

This post screams you are an intellectual snob :) So much to ponder and I as always I admire you for telling it like it is. If I lost my job today I would have this same story I'm sure of it. I've had the same job for 15 years and worked from hem for the last 12. I'm spoiled and starved all at once. Spoiled for my short commute and non existent dress code, starved for co workers and challenge. My job pays the bills and then some so my fun comes from helping Cristi with KMK. I also am trying to get in doing some volunteering at The Children's Hospital so I can feel like what I do matters.

You make this coat fabulous! and none of us are just our jobs.
LOVE you

Tamera Wolfe said...

This is an awesome post Curtise!!
Work--well when I'm able to go (I REALLY miss it now) is something I enjoy--I like what I do. Some of the co-workers make me crazy at times and I hate dealing with the utter BS but the pure designing end of it I love.

Tamera Wolfe said...

Totally forgot to say that coat is gorgeous--camel color yet so elegent looking

silvergirl said...

What a fantastic coat
You have to wear it more often
I thought you had on quilted boots at first, then realized they were booties with tights
Love the look

Helga! said...

Yes, you are VERY grown up, darling!
Hmmm. I am certainly a snob, though not so intellectual, as I don't think I am that smart, but know I am not thick. I do frequently find myself despising people at work who just can't get their head around our computer system, which I find pretty easy, and I am always ashamed of myself for that.
I loathe working. I really would prefer to be at home, planning meals, sewing, reading...blah blah. I have an annoying personality quirk where whatever I do, no matter how much I may love it, when I HAVE to do it, I no longer love it. So I can't work for myself. Tried that. I love having money to do what I want to do, resent not having the time to do what I want and frequently have periods of distaste and anger about having to work at all!!! I have never desired a career.
If I lost my job tomorrow I would be TERRIFIED at having to find another, as I am terrible at "talking myself up". Hate it! Argh. It's the double edged sword in perpetuity for me. I just need to be grateful for what I have!!!
Loving your intellectual snobbery!

Ivy Black said...

Great post, love. I didn't expect it, but you did it so well...
Gawd, work eh? I work so hard sometimes I can't feel my feet!
After the day I had I could happily never go back but I know that in the morning I'll be up for it, raring to go and glad of the chance to slap some lippy on and go forth. Part of me is disconnected is almost as if another person goes to work on my behalf sometimes. Trouble is I promised myself when I was ten years old that I'd grow up to be a writer and an artist. I was meant to have been on Woman's Hour by now!
Loves ya bits.

Brooke F said...

What a wonderful post Curtise! I loved reading about your employment tales. I think I am really lucky to have a job that I really do love - as exhausting, emotionally draining and frustrating as it often is. After I returned to work after my littlest I had to step down as coordinator of my area to let a totally incompetent and useless person take over simply because she could work full time and I could not. I hadn't realised how much of my identity was tied up with my role - I had always been so proud of my position and how I managed it, and it was really difficult to not be identified by it. I did get used to the step down but have never got used to having a really inferior superior!

Janey G said...

feck me, turn me back for a minute on you and alls changed! you look friggin gorgeous! so funny the vision of the ashamed wife of man in trunks and the wife of a sandal/sock wearing man, i feel her pain! how wonderful people suspect you have something about you....the intellectual snob in me cringed for you (crap i hope i just spelt intellectual right, otherwise I will look a right knob!) work and me a thorny issue at the moment involving a good awful fight with family who need an arse kicking and no contact at all with any of them since the beginning of you wish you hadn't asked! Nasty bunch of *********!!!!!!!!! eeek vowed I would not talk about it for a few weeks as the rage rushes back in!!! xxxxx

Marjorie said...

You approached your work professionally. I would have expected that. Good luck with the job hunting.

Marjorie said...

You approached your work professionally. I would have expected that. Good luck with the job hunting.

Ripple Dandelion said...

Thank you for saying some of what is so on my mind these days! I left work after doing the whole successful urban professional mother thing for a few years, complete with live-in au pair. What a nightmare. My only child has special needs and one hour in the evenings with me just wasn't enough. Now that he is a teenager, I truly don't know what is next for me. We no longer live in an urban area, and professional employment opportunities are in short supply even for those without ten year gaps in their resumes! I don't know the answer for us interrupted former professionals, but I have great faith in your spirit and intelligence.

thorne garnet said...

Love my job, wish it paid better.

Aya in Couturgatory said...

a) your coat is lovely, but you have so many awesome unique pieces that I can understand why you might reach for them first when suiting up

b) Thank you for sharing your experience! It's a different beast, but as a returning student in my 30s, I feel a bit odd when I'm being taught by persons younger than me.

You got me thinking about how unfair it is for women who devote their lives to raising families, having to start careers over.

PinkCheetahVintage said...

This may sound bad, but I am chomping at the bit to work full time again. The kids aren't quite old enough yet...

Olga Rani said...

What an interesting post, Curtise! I enjoyed reading about your "work adventures". I used to move around a lot and so changed many jobs. But they were mostly connected either with kids or with students. That way I was always kind of "the boss".
Your coat is very beautiful, shame you don't wear it more often.

Loo xx from Jumbles and Pompoms said...

Excellent post, Curtise, you did very well. Yet again! Work for me is literally a means of earning money in order to keep myself in holidays and jumble sales (I don't ask for much do I?). Fortunately, my work isn't too tedious and I get plenty of time to surf the net and read blogs plus it's only 4 days a week and my colleagues (who are all younger) are lovely so I'm quite happy really. Good luck with the job app. xx

bohemian vanity said...

Happy belated new year dear Curtise!
I hope that things will soon get better for you. I so do understand you!
I don't love my work neither. I'd love to make a living out of what i love. But it's hard... I'm searching for a new job too but i'm not lucky yet.
Wish you good luck with the further job hunt! Fingers crossed for you!!! Stay positive!!! xxxx Tani

Fiona said...

What a bloody good post this is Curtise and how I empathize with you.
In my situation it was due to redundancy that I now find myself in a job that I find tedious, unchallenging and if i'm honest, beneath me. Like you I was the supervisior in my previous careers and held much responsibility, now I find myself working with people whose topics of conversation rarely stray from reality show celebs or the latest Iphone. While I'm no intellectual (Sisy who?..ha ha) I am a bit of a snob too. I too have received patronizing praise, in my case when dealing with a difficult passenger and I felt like replying 'of course you twat, because I have been doing this since you were in short trousers' but I bit my tongue, which I find myself doing increasingly. I know I could look for another job but this one pays well(just got a £750 bonus) and I'm lazy - the recruitment processes are insane nowadays.
I've been working 35 years this year, lets face it am I going to love any job ?
Camel coat...v. grown up and loving the crochet scarf. Good luck with the stockroom application.

Forest City Fashionista said...

This was a very interesting post, and if I lost my job tomorrow, I would likely find myself in a similar mindset as you. I am rather a snob myself, when it comes to expecting certain behaviour from others and if I had to work with, and be supervised by, 20-somethings at this stage of my life I don't know that I would handle it well at all. I my first 20 years of employment were all in retail - some was ok, some was fun, some was absolutely shitty. I was thrilled to get a real job in my mid-30's that had benefits and no working weekends. I don't love my work, never have, never will. I don't hate it either. I wish I could afford to work 3 days a week and work on my own projects the rest of the time, but when you're single, no one else is going to pick up the financial slack.

Forest City Fashionista said...

This was a very interesting post, and if I lost my job tomorrow, I would likely find myself in a similar mindset as you. I am rather a snob myself, when it comes to expecting certain behaviour from others and if I had to work with, and be supervised by, 20-somethings at this stage of my life I don't know that I would handle it well at all. I my first 20 years of employment were all in retail - some was ok, some was fun, some was absolutely shitty. I was thrilled to get a real job in my mid-30's that had benefits and no working weekends. I don't love my work, never have, never will. I don't hate it either. I wish I could afford to work 3 days a week and work on my own projects the rest of the time, but when you're single, no one else is going to pick up the financial slack.

Emalina said...

Grown up thoughts to go with the grown up coat, both very inspiring and illuminating! Like you I'm an intellectual snob, although having previously worked in many 'basic' jobs to make the money to fund myself through a 5 year post grad training to get me where I am today, I know I'd do those jobs again like a shot if times were hard and I needed the dosh. I have an unusual job nowadays in that it sounds intellectually impressive (and well paid) but actually, due to my own desire for flexibility, makes not much money. But that's the downside of being self employed. The upside? Autonomy, freedom, no boss to answer to, and as many challenges as I wish to throw at myself! Take heart, I've no doubt you will work your way up to more interesting jobs again once you've put the ground work in.

Anonymous said...

Really interesting post.
I worked in M&S over Christmas as a customer assistant. It's not what I used to do, but I found it fun - not all the time but most of it. I'll be happy to go back to it if they take on temps again. It was part-time and left me head space to quilt. I found it was better for my creativity than sewing for people, which is what I usually do.
I love your coat - the fur collar makes it special. xxx

Diane said...

How I can empathise with you on the work situation. Before kids I had a "corporationy" job with company car and business cards etc After a 4 year break to have babies, I returned to a call centre job working late evenings and weekends - the sh*t h ours no one else wanted to do. Because I had young kids I was talked to as if I was stupid.I've had to fit jobs in around kids and a husband who works shifts. It certainly has not been good fun or fulfilling, but we've managed to pay the mortgage off, put 1 kid through Uni and currently doing the same for no 2 kid. 2.5 years time I'm hoping I might get a bit of my wage to spend on me! xxxxx

Dawn Elliott said...

You wild pattern mixer, you! Somehow you always make it come together...this time with the grey in the boots and the sweater...bravo!
About work...I do my art, I have an antique booth, I sell on E-bay, and I work once a week at my friend's clothing boutique. I'm too damn busy, but each one of these things brings me pleasure. So much for retirement! Good luck to you on your next endeavor!

freckleface said...

What a wonderfully thought provoking post and I love all the comments it has inspired. Part of the reason I set up my own business was because I was so sick of female bosses keeping me down whilst taking credit for my work. I am currently having a bit of a crisis of faith with my puddly little part time job, which , although convenient, doesn't define me at all. The whole business of work is so complex. I'm with Helga and would give it up in a heartbeat. I'll take the risk of on the other hand are to be admired. You've identified a goal and are working your way towards it. You recognise that each of these different roles you are prepared to do, will give you new demonstrable skills, which you can use to advance up that ladder. Which I have no doubt you will. I feel excited on your behalf and wish you every success, you sophisticated intellectual thing you! Xxxxx

Mrs. D said...

I like the coat, even though it makes you mull over things. But that's not bad is it?
I currently love what I do. You will remember how much of a miserable cow I was when we met, the job I had really killed my spirits. Now I am working as an online marketing executive and I am learning something new every day, I get to use my brains and I am motivated to come to work every morning. Something I rarely felt in my professional life. I really can't complain @:)
I hope you get the job - even though it might not be something too glamorous, it'll get you out of the house and a few extra quid :)

Veshoevius said...

So much to say here on this, too much in fact to be wrapped neatly in one comment. Your post and all the personal stories in the comments had me thinking all day about work and what it means to women. I work in a profession and there are many days when I stand at the bus stop on the way home thinking the same thing as you. Why am I doing this? I've done all manner of jobs in different areas before landing this one, including mundane service ones and long periods of being unemployed which was depressing and of being in jobs I hated which was frankly even more depressing. What I can say is that all jobs at all levels have their mundane and mind numbingly boring bits to them. What has tended to be the best thing about work is the opportunity to socially interact with other people.
Anyhow good luck with the job application!

two bones and a bagle said...

I do love what I do now BUT I have done plenty of the doing what I don't really love but needed to do it to make some money. Just go with the flow I say and you will find just the right 'thing' for you.

Vicky Hayes said...

Well you have opened Pandora's box here Curtise! I certainly get where you're coming from and I hope you somehow find wherever it is you want to get to. I'm in a similar situation and my answer is to find things to do where I'm in charge (I run a direct sales business but I definitely do it my way.) I suppose I'm a snob too but prefer to think of it as 'knowing my own worth'! Grown up Curtise looks just as good as Crazy Curtise by the way (oops, forgot, we're not Barbies are we?!) Vicky x

joyatri said...

Your meditation on work and identity seems from the comments to be pretty universal. I can relate to the part about 'ego.' I was a museum curator for 15 years. After being made redundant, I temped. Perceived glamor job to office temp in one fell swoop. After my ego recovered I realized that my colleagues were incredibly cool people who had interesting lives. Since then I've found my 'calling' in animal welfare. And now realize that the seemingly 'unambitious' may have it figured out; they actually have lives outside their jobs.
Wishing you the best with whatever paid or unpaid work you pursue.

Val Sparkle said...

It's so good to read these comments and realize I'm not the only one who is just working and not loving it. Then again, it's sad to see that I'm not the only who is just working and not loving it. My job pays nicely, the company has pretty good ethics, and I work with educated people (we're all intellectual snobs), but it's so confining and out of my natural realm - I studied art history but I work for an engineering firm. There's no color!

At this point I know I'll never have a real career that I love, but I'm also not ambitious enough to feel like I need any advancement. What I need is more time to sleep in!

Emma Kate at Painted Style said...

Work? Haven't done it for five years and I've never been happier. I feel no guilt about not contributing to the household finances. After a recent nasty health scare I realised that to replace me my husband would need to pay for a nanny, gardener, decorator and a cleaner. Just a once every 6 weeks cleaner but even so!
I do come up with two business ideas a week and one day, mark my words, I will have a business empire. Probably. xxxx

Melanie said...

I was just reading all the comments and have been thinking about this post since you put it up. Why is it that our degrees seem to expire about four or five years after we get them? Is this a good investment? I suppose if we sail through life in one job, yes. But who does that any more? It's even harder for women who have children. If I had to change jobs I'd probably go for something solitary so I don't have to worry about taking orders from 20-somethings. I admire your fortitude and gumption(!)getting out there. And of course they'd think you were a manager. You may leave the career behind, but it never really leaves you. Your power is reflected in your style choices which can't help but leak out even when you are required to dress conservatively for work.

Rosemary the Shopper said...

Didn't know that in a former life you were She Who Is To Be Feared!! Gosh, I've never had that in my life/work experience. I guess I'm one of life's muddlers. But believe me, you are WELL QUALIFIED to work for yourself, name your own hours and your own income if you want. I just wish I had the career smarts you had in your past life. Thing is, they are still there. It's up to you if you want to use them again. Send me an email if you want to talk more.

Rose from

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

{Sigh} Great post Curtise. And equally thoughtful comments. I've somehow ended up in the....'Not knowing what I want to do when I grow up' I work, but only part-time. Same boss for almost 20 years. I remember I read What Color Is Your Parachute, and applied where I am now. In the beginning, the job really did tick off a lot of the boxes...but, now not so much. I'm there because it's a habit, and the staff is like family; a weird, disfunctional family, but family. And, I just don't quite know what I would do otherwise. I find I have so many interests, but I don't have the courage, or the mindfulness, to really do what I love and make money while doing it. My friend and I always remind each other that Louise Hay didn't even start her empire until she was in her fifties, so I don't give up hope. But...

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