A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post, all about how my freelance work is going. And the overwhelming response from everyone who read it was: ‘What a positive post!’.
Hang on a minute! Positive? Me? I’m not positive. I’m kind of grumpy and my glass is always half empty. I’m a pessimist who worries about things that may never happen. I am most definitely not positive.
But it was those comments that made me realise something. I’m not that glass half empty kind of person any more. I’m a new person. Or I’m not a new person. I’m just me. I’m the me I always knew was there. The me buried under a whole load of worrying about stuff and feeling I wasn’t good enough. The me who spent 15 years working at the bottom of the pile.
I hadn’t realised how much working at the bottom of the pile for 15 years had sucked all confidence out of me and how, slowly but surely, I had got my confidence back.
When I worked at the council, people didn’t give work to me directly. I was way too inferior. Work might go to the communications manager, who would pass it to the press office manager. She might pass it direct to me or she might pass it to a senior communications officer (generally 10 years younger and way less experienced than me), who would then pass it to me. Little old communications officer. Perceived to be a bit rubbish because I was at the bottom of the pile. Sod the 15 years experience. Sod the fact that I was only at the bottom of the pile due to the three kids I’d popped out, meaning I was unable to work full time.
My position at the bottom of the pile meant 99% of people in that organisation were blind to what I could actually do.
I could write. Well.
I could spot a story and make it newsworthy and easy to understand.
I could proofread.
I could manage the social media.
I could do all of those and hundreds of other things besides. Because I had the skills picked up from years of experience. But working in an organisation with a huge hierarchy meant that I got no credit for these things. Surely someone at the bottom of the pile just couldn’t have those skills?
And here I am now.
I talk to people confidently. I’m just me. I don’t pretend to be something or someone I’m not. I know I can do the work clients give me, and I tell them so. Then I go and prove it by doing a good job. So they ask me to do another job.
Then I get an email which says something like this: ‘We’re really impressed with your work… ‘
Because they can see the years of experience in what I do. That a 41 year old woman with three kids is not someone to be ignored and given the rubbish jobs, but someone who has the skills to do a really good job. Someone to be treated as an equal. Because we are all equals. We are human beings with jobs and lives and families. We all have to make ends meet, we all have to juggle to get through the day. There is no hierarchy. We’re just all doing the best we can.
It’s crept up on me, but I realise I am now a positive person.
I’m the bottom of nobody’s pile now. There is no pile. There is only me.