That’s me. My self-esteem. Not the sort of little knock that you can wipe with your sleeve and it disappears. A proper knock. Again.
I’ve got 39 years on the clock and I’m past it. I’m stuck in a rut and nothing I can do will get me out of it.
When I started at work I was 25, young and full of ideas. People rated me.
Then I get ‘restructured’. For that, read ‘downgraded’. And I went part-time. People came in below me and quickly rose above me. People younger than me came in above me. I started to feel I wasn’t quite good enough and I didn’t know why. I was ‘just’ a mum. ‘Just’ a part-timer.
And I’m NOT that person. I never have been. I was a clever, ambitious kid. When I started working at 25 I was on track to fulfil my aspirations and my potential. And then I got stuck.
Last autumn we had to reapply for our own jobs. Except they weren’t our own jobs, they were new jobs. There was a senior one and one a grade down which will ultimately lead to a pay cut. My main priority was to have A job. My second priority was to have a senior job. No prizes for guessing which job I did get.
But I was sold the ‘less senior’ job as an opportunity. Because, when people leave, there’s an opportunity for me right there. To get promotion. To challenge myself. To fulfil just a tiny bit of that potential I once had.
Someone left. I went for the job. I made a massive schoolgirl error. I’d spent the entire autumn in bits, worrying about redundancy. I’d got myself into a right state. I decided I wasn’t going to put myself or my family through that again. The interview came at a really bad time for me too. The end of term, but also the end of my son’s time at primary school which was a really emotional time for me. And I was going on holiday and worrying about packing and everything else. So I took a decision and I stuck to it. I DIDN’T PREPARE. I know my job, I know what I can do, what I’ve done in the past and the people interviewing me knew it too. I decided if it was meant to be, it would be.
Well, needless to say. It wasn’t. Would I have got it if I had prepared? Seriously? We will never know. Although, having now worked with the people who did get it (there were TWO jobs and I didn’t even get one!), I suspect possibly not. They are younger than me of course. Lovely people. Full of life and enthusiasm. Not dissimilar from me when I first came in all those years ago. And, here’s the irony. I was at that damn level all those years ago and now I can’t get back there!
Don’t worry, they said. There’s another job coming up. It’s right up your street. You’ll walk it.
It certainly was right up my street. It was working in the one subject area I’d always worked in for 13 years. The one area I loved and was passionate about. Yeah, it had the word ‘marketing’ in the title, and I’m not a marketing person, but I could do it. I fulfilled enough of the criteria. And I cared about it. It took me away from the press office work I love, but I’m not doing that right now anyway and that knocks my self-esteem in itself. The new job would have allowed me to use the social media I love so much. I could use the skills I’d honed at home on my blog and twitter to help out at work.
So I prepared. Properly. I had an afternoon and evening to myself. I would have loved to have sat reading. But I didn’t, I prepared for this interview. I talked to myself out loud for hours on end.
I’m not me in an interview. Is anyone, really? My voice comes out all wrong. I talk a bit too fast.
I did well, though. Reasonably well.
Not flipping well enough. And that’s why I’m dented. If I can’t get a job in the place I already work, working on a subject matter I love, using all my skills, what flipping job can I get?
I have three options right now:
- Stay forever, feeling forever small, forever not good enough
- Leave and do nothing
- Work for myself
I can’t go all out there and just work for myself. Our family is already supporting one own business and it’s hard. There’s no way we could support two, we would crumble.
My preferred option would be a combination of the last two. Some nothing and a bit of work, not so much that it became unsustainable.
But you know what I’ll do? The first option. I’ll still be there in five years, still clearing up the newspapers that other people can’t organise properly. Still feeling small and a bit useless and also feeling very, very old.
That’s not the life I saw for myself. It’s not the life I want. And that’s why I’m dented.