My first day at my new job was a bit like my first day at school – shiny bag, polished shoes, nervous smile. I spent the day eagerly trying to remember names and procedures, carefully writing notes in a blank notebook, squaring the edges of piles of paper on my new desk. It had been 51 weeks since I was last employed and I had missed this.
I’m now seven weeks into a job that is slowly losing its “new” badge, and I cannot begin to explain how exciting it is to be earning my own money, and learning new things. When I first signed up to the employment agency, I’d already made peace with the fact that I’d probably spend my days filing, so to be working within marketing is an absolute blessing. I get to write lots and organise lots – the two things I love to do most!
The most difficult challenge I’ve faced so far? The language barrier. My team, made up of Canadians and Bermudians, find me ridiculously proper because I say “do” before the imperative, e.g. “Do call if you need help”, and roll about laughing every time I say “query” (apparently they just make do with saying “question”). Part of my role is to manage our social media – where informal, colloquial language is key. But I’m only fluent in informal London English! Every time I write a tweet or a Facebook message for the company, I have to check myself. Will people know what I mean if I say “swanky”? Is “yonks” a term only used in England?
One of the greatest things I’ve gained, aside from the experience and learning, is structure. As an unemployed volunteer, it’s difficult to make time your own because you have no reason not to take on another project – all time is your own until no time is your own. Now my boundaries are clearer, and it’s easier to set time aside to simply watch TV or read a book in the evening without feeling guilt creep up and scold me for being indulgent! I truly am earning a living.
Just last week I ran my last computer class with my senior students. Despite having seven more on the “waiting list” I told my heart to be quiet and listened to my head, making the decision to take back some of my weekend for myself. And that naggy voice of guilt didn’t even argue! She must be tired🙂