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.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Maybe you need career counselling…… Hate to sound American, but a bit of life coaching would work. Help you focus. X

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  2. It is normal to feel disappointed- but use it as a place to re-assess from. When are you due a review at work? Make sure you are clear about your goals there, and without making it sound like an ultimatum, make it clear that you will change job to get there if you need to! We are not past it at 39. We have 25 years of work at least ahead of us! I know I am using this time at home to make a new plan for when I return to work when Syd is a bit older. So don’t be deflated- be energised to decide what you want to do and achieve and then go get ’em!! Xx

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  3. Oh honey! I am so with you although I dot have an actual job, I just can’t get one! I have applies for teaching jobs and been told I’m too rusty and applied for support jobs and told I am too much of a teacher. After failing to get a very poorly paid job on Friday as a language assistant, I felt like you do now! It is so much harder as you get older, but you are good at lots of things; you are obviously a fantastic mum, you write a great blog and no those things won’t pay the bills, but I am a big believer in the saying ‘things happen for a reason ‘.

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  4. Don’t feel dented, you do a great job and if people can’t see that then its their loss x I love reading your blogs xxx

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  5. Oh this really is rubbish for you 🙁 totally understandable that you’re feeling worthless, how crushing it must be to see people rise above you. I guess you need to focus in what else you have outside of work – an incredible bunch of kids, your running, your blog etc. Did they explain why you weren’t successful? Could you apply outside of your company for a similar role? Maybe it’s time to move on….although I know how much you love you colleagues so that would be tough. Stay focused. X

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  6. Thank you everybody for your comments, I really appreciate them. x
    You’re all right, I am happy when I’m focusing on the other stuff – being a mum and running and blogging. I have a lot in my life outside of work, but work is still really important to me, as is feeling I have a place in society. It’s hard to explain, but I think you all get that.
    Thank you for all being so good to me 🙂 x

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  7. Never thought of career counselling, Uley Girl. Maybe I should look into it. Think I need LIFE counselling 🙁 Have to learn not to get unhappy so easily!

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  8. Big hug. Not getting a job you know you’d be good at us always horribly disappointing, but more so in your own pace of work where people know you and should value you. I have no good advice, just a bucket of sympathy

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  9. Thanks very much 🙂 Buckets of sympathy are much appreciated and they’ve been coming at me from all angles, it’s really helped.

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  10. Thankfully not been through restructuring (which is pure luck as I’m in local gov) but I totally know how you feel. Had my 6 month appraisal today and since having a child I’ve pretty much gone from senior manager to admin apprentice. It makes me very angry when I think about the way we stop valuing women once they’ve had a child but I also know there’s not much you can do about it. Life counselling might be good, I’m trying to think of ways to earn a bit on the side so I can escape work, I’m sure you could too 🙂

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  11. I’m just getting to the back to work stage myself and I know I’m gonna feel exactly the way you’ve juts articulated! It’s just not possible to dedicate yourself to a a career when you have priorities lying elsewhere I guess 🙁 so frustrating… the eternal dilemma… I hope you find some way to get some clarity. When you do please let me know how you found it! xxx *hugs* xxx

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  12. I think it’s very difficult to focus on your career if you have a family, especially if you work part-time. I’m not in a good work situation at the moment myself (although I’m hoping it will work out for the best in time). You have a definite talent for writing and I love reading your blog, you express yourself beautifully. Work does define us but you have loads going on outside your job and you never know what opportunities may come up. I’m not sure I’m being very helpful, but I just wanted to say thinking of you and hope that you feel more positive soon.

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  13. Gorgeous girl. Don’t feel dented or sad. You have 3 beautiful children, you have just run a half marathon and you are fab. Just use the time to think about what you REALLY want. Not just what is convenient. That’s why I do 11 hours of gardening a week – which is blimmin hard but brilliant! It’s time to take stock and dream a bit. xxxx

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  14. We’ve got to get out! We need to develop a plan 🙂

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  15. That’s crap and as a fellow very nearly 39 year old, I feel for you. I hope this leads to something better for you. Meantime, remember you are so much more important to your family, than to any employer.

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  16. Thank you all for your lovely comments and your support, I really appreciate it.
    Jennifer – you were very helpful, because you made me feel good about myself and my writing and all the other things which are important.
    Gardening sounds brilliant, Sam. The great outdoors! What a great thing to do.

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  17. I worked part time by choice (basically so I could have a life) but when the good jobs were handed out, part timers weren’t considered.

    So when my Mom fell ill, I decided to leave, look after Mom until she died, then changed my life completely. One year on, things are looking good, happy, positive. Don’t know why I stayed there so long.

    Good luck x.

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  18. Thank you very much, Lesley! That’s kind of where I am with my life. I love the people I work with, but I think in a lot of ways I’d be happier without it. I’d be able to get the boring stuff done in the day and be a nice mummy when my kids get home, instead of a grumpy one who’s been at work all day and hasn’t got time for them 🙁 x

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  19. Thanks very much. I just need to make a change. Don’t know what or when.

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  20. My life motto is One door shuts and another one opens and even when times are tough I try my hardest to focus on these words.

    Please don’t let it get to you, for all your preparation they may have had someone in mind already and it was never meant to be yours.

    Right now look at all the positives in your life, you have a job, you have time with your family, you have a successful blog, you have family and friends. Work on these things and you will find your true answer
    Big hgus, and pick yourself up, we’re too good to be dented 😉

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  21. Thanks very much, Mari, really appreciate your comment. You’re right, I do have lots to be positive about and I need to focus on those. I’m sure I will find the answer soon! 🙂

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  22. I have popped over from the britmums best blog post and I just couldn’t not comment. I am so sorry you didn’t get the job, it sounds to me like you need to find your perfect job…elsewhere. Somewhere where your skills and worth are taken into consideration. I am a big believer in fate and everything happens for a reason, always have been – so you didn’t get this job, but only because the perfect solution is out there just waiting for you to stumble across it.

    I think some coaching sounds like an excellent idea, it really helps you focus on your positives and allows you to believe in yourself X

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  23. Thanks very much, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. You are so right – I just need to be brave enough to take that step. It’s hard to believe in yourself after 13 years going nowhere at the same place. x

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