I did. I warned you that I was not a prolific poster. So here I am, a lengthy six weeks later posting again ::sigh::
And I could give a whole ream of excuses – busy at work, busy with family, busy with myself (because I’m middle aged and I deserve me time!), busy with the landscapers, etc, etc. I used to chastise my son and say, ‘don’t give me excuses, you could have done such and such’. He always floored me with the response, ‘but they’re not excuses, they’re reasons!’ I never did figure out what to say to that one…
I was thinking today, after sniggering at Mrs Carmichael’s post about occupation, about what I’ve done work wise, or otherwise, over my adult life and what it says about me. After my son was born, I was a die hard stay at home mum – but I studied. Took up the challenge of a degree that I’d denied myself in my late teens and became a BSc (Hons). Okay it took me fourteen years, dipping in and out of study here and there with long gaps and bizarre combinations of topics, but it suited me. What I thought I’d do with the bloody thing I still don’t know. And as it turns out, I’ve not really done anything with it since I got it in 2007.
I’ve not filled out a job application since I was applying for temp jobs in London in the heady days of the late 1980s (with my Filofax, padded shoulders, and bright pink high heeled shoes – don’t ask!) All and any of the work I’ve done since has come by word of mouth – a part time job with the accountants office that did my husband’s tax return, that fitted around school hours; volunteer work at a local Hospice; then paid work at said Hospice when they found out I could type, do bookwork and handle the eccentricities of the somewhat irrational but charming Fund Manager. Then I decided to write, and that wasn’t work, but it led to work. Often unpaid, but probably more interesting and challenging than anything I’d ever done in my life before. Three years ago I put myself and a pretentious proposal forward to the leader of my choral society and I now run the office for 350 members. No references were ever sought, no application form filled. I guess that’s one of things that comes with age. You become confident in yourself, in the skills you have, in the person you are and what you know you can do. And that gets you a long way when it comes to work.
So what does all that say about me? Some years ago, when I thought I really should get a ‘proper job’ again I went to a CV writing workshop run by a local employment agency. I was wallowing in self pity, sitting amongst women significantly younger than me – management level ladies who’d had a career break for child raising and were keen to get back into the workplace. Amidst buzzwords like ‘seeding your CV with key phrases’ and ‘outcomes and performance objectives’ I felt like a lost has been, who’d never actually had.
During one of those awful exercises where you have to describe your career to the person next to you I said ‘I’m stuck, how on earth do I describe myself in these terms? I’ve only ever worked part time and been a mum.’ She simply asked me what I did day to day, what I enjoyed and what I really wanted to do. ‘Just a few words,’ she said, ‘don’t overthink it’. So we sat for five minutes whilst I muttered odd words here and there. When our turn came for her to describe me to the rest of the room (the horror!!!) she read out this brilliantly crafted little paragraph that went something like this: ‘this is [Sweet]. She’s done a wonderful job raising her son over the past few years and she’s spent a lot of her free time studying for a degree with the Open University. She’s intelligent, resourceful, caring and compassionate. She’s creative and knows how to organise and is looking for a job where she can put all of her skills to good use.’ Turns out her background was Human Resources and she did me the biggest favour of my life. She showed me that whilst I’d prioritised hearth and home, I’d also developed all the extraordinary skills you need for child raising and domestic life, and that life skills are always transferable.
My little resume about her was crap by the way, and I’m really sorry for that.