Monday, 7 January 2013

Perfect one day,crashing the next...

Gunny - taken by myself :)

Redundancy. A relatively taboo subject in the past but one which is now becoming much more prominent in society since the start of the recession. With current figures indicating that 2.53 million people are currently unemployed as opposed to 1.79 million in August 2009, it certainly is a topic to think seriously about. It was a topic that I dismissed time and time again as I was defiant I would never become a statistic. Until one day, yes you guessed it, I became a statistic.

I guess I have always been slightly na├»ve when it comes to employment. In university I, like many others around the country, thought once I graduated I would find the ‘perfect job’ and life would be great. Three years on after graduation, I still hadn’t found the ‘perfect job’ and in fact I was still working in the same fashion retail job that I had been doing since school. I will admit that I did question myself several times to see if university had been a complete waste of my time, providing that I ended up in the exact same job position afterwards. I suppose you could say my teenage dreams of becoming a female version of Sir David Attenborough led me to believe otherwise (My degree is in Zoology if you were wondering).

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and reflecting back, I wish I had left that position before I got made redundant. There is no way to say this apart from I got comfortable. I was working daily in a place where I was surrounded by clothes and for someone that writes about fashion and beauty, it was almost perfect.  As an individual, I’m generally not a high believer in my own dreams. I continuously doubt my own capabilities (which is down to confidence) therefore it was probably inevitable as to why I ended up in the same position.

If I could sum up my experience of  redundancy in one word, it would be horrific. It is a scenario in which you have no control over whatsoever. There is no alternative path , no escape route and it doesn’t matter what you do, the outcome is always the same. It is not a nice place to be. I think one of the worst parts of being made redundant was the lack of control. As an individual, I like to be in control especially where finances are involved. I am scared of the unknown and ultimately in this situation, I was forced to face my fear head on.

Dealing with the unknown was hard. It was a constant fight of emotions. When I first became unemployed, I didn’t feel much different than I normally did - I felt like I was simply taking holidays. However as time went on, I began to feel so much more. There were times I felt anxious, times I felt alone and also times when I questioned why it happened to me. There was nothing I could have wanted more at the time than to be employed. Something which you don’t realise how much you rely on it until it is taken away from you.

One of the downsides of being unemployed was going to the Job Centre to collect JSA. I cannot think of a time in my life when I have ever felt so useless, so unwanted. Every time I went I felt terrible and incredibly uncomfortable. In some ways, I found it quite intimidating - sitting down, while undesirables stared at you and security guards wandered around you. Not my cup of tea at all. I never got used to that situation throughout my whole time of unemployment.

Being unemployed also meant I had a lot of  spare time on my hands. This time was spent applying for as many jobs as I could ,hoping, no praying, that someone would provide me with an interview. One successful interview would be all it would take to be able to move on. I exhausted every possible avenue to increase my chances of success: hunting through newspapers on the days that jobs came out, scouring through job websites, contacting recruitment agencies and even taking myself down to the public library to minimise distraction. I tried it all with limited success until one day, some months later, a recruitment agency contacted me about some work they had.

On the day I was contacted by the agency, I felt like a small weight had been lifted. I finally had a chance to successfully prove to someone in an interview about why I was good for them. The work, although temporary, was a small step in the right direction, to get me back on my feet and for me to feel useful once again. I’m pleased to say that I am still in this role, with the contract having been extended for a few months longer. Yes, I will have to reconsider my options shortly as I do not want to be back on the unemployment path. The thought of having to go through that again terrifies me. If I am completely honest, I would like to draw a line under being unemployed and begin a career that I both love and that is rewarding at the same time.

Dealing with redundancy has taught me one important lesson and that is never to take your job for granted. As I experienced, what may seem a perfect day in the workplace one day could come crashing down hard the next. It is a quick, random change of events which could happen to any one of you reading this. If you don’t like your job, don’t moan about it. Instead, choose to relive the good moments and appreciate it. This is something that I now do as yes, I  have bad days like everyone else, but I know that this job is a fleeting moment in my career and that I should cherish being employed while I can.