It’s been a whole year since I last updated this blog, and I had grand ideas of lots of fun listings of stuff to do in London, and I do still keep an eye out for this kind of thing – www.escaperooms.co.uk being one example – but last summer was taken up with breaking up with my long-term boyfriend and moving out of our flat and this summer I was made redundant so this whole past year has been endless searching for things really. Not a lot of time for jousting sadly 🙂
However – I have learnt a lot this past year, mostly about perseverance and managing disappointment, a bit on what not to do when going for interviews and a smattering of you never know what’s round the corner.
I’ve also learnt that the internet bloody loves lists, so when life takes a dump right on your face, here are five things I’ve learnt to do:
1. Eat an ice cream
I know – you’ve just lost your job and I’m saying ‘it’ll be fine, just eat an ice cream’. However, there is loads of information online about writing CVs, looking for jobs, interview skills, and so on, but a significant thing for me has been the psychological impact of not having that security there and the endless tedium of searching, applying and hearing nothing back. There’s a hell of a lot of slogging that needs to be done and it’s not much fun. So, what I’ve learnt is that taking a step back and doing something as silly as eating an ice cream out in the sun will do you a world of good. Have a walk somewhere new, write an email to a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, or break out an episode of the box set you’ve been meaning to watch and don’t feel guilty because it interrupts the repetitive cycle of rotating through the job websites and then staring forlornly at Facebook because somebody’s in the Maldives and plastering photos everywhere of them diving with turtles. This time next year – you’ll be the one shoving turtles in people’s faces. Write ‘I want to shove turtles’ on a post-it note and stick it to your laptop for inspiration.
2. Write a list
I love lists – they’re so neat and tidy and make it look like you’re doing something useful. Hunting for stuff can start off interesting when there’s all that possibility out there, but when you’ve exhausted the job websites, the dating websites or the house moving websites, what’s left? You, that’s what. What things have you heard about and were interested in, but still haven’t gotten round to doing yet? Places that you’ve been meaning to visit? Books that you’ve been meaning to read (Wolf Hall and The Goldfinch in my case because I accidentally bought both in hardback)? Fun skills that you’ve been meaning to learn that are completely useless in any practical sense (archery and circus skills I’m looking at you)? Again, it’s something a bit more fun to focus on and break up the hard work. Have a look at www.meetup.com and try something new.
3. Talk it out
That’s what friends are there for, and people love giving advice for the most part. Also, you never know who they know and what might be available. Networking has a bad rep with images of soulless meeting rooms in the bowels of a hotel or conference centre where people are struggling to hold a coffee, eat a croissant and work out which seminar on inspiration in the workplace they should be in next, whilst also trying to look interested in whoever it is that’s trying to get their attention. That’s professional networking – look at personal networking or ‘having a drink down the pub’. Facebook could very well be your friend in this situation – apparently over half of users have over 200 people in their network. If somebody shares that you’re looking for a house or freelance work, you never know what will turn up.
4. Know when to change tack, or walk away
If you’ve been applying for permanent jobs – what about freelance? I worked in magazine publishing so it’s an obvious move to either tide me over or maybe even be a full time job. But freelance work isn’t just editing and writing – and even if your expertise is in a different area, that doesn’t mean you can’t write about it. There are websites on everything under the sun, and a lot of those need expert content written out of house. I’ve just joined www.flexjobs.com specifically to look for scientific copy writing / proofreading. If you’re an expert, make it pay. For dating I’ve tried a whole bunch of sites, from Guardian Soulmates and OkCupid to Tinder and Happen. I’ve had dates from several sites – nothing’s worked out as yet but if you exhaust the population of a site, just walk away for a bit. New people will appear, and you’re not going to die sad and alone with rats eating you just because you’ve decided to focus on doing a life drawing course instead.
5. Stay positive
This is the most difficult, because the constant disappointments when you don’t get a job, or you don’t find somebody, or the housemates in that house that you want to move into who were definitely on your wavelength and thought you were awesome actually gave the room to somebody else and didn’t bother to tell you, are a right bitch. There’s no getting around this – life can be a long and seemingly endless process of trying to get people to like you. But once you’ve got to where you need to be, all of that is completely irrelevant. So stay strong. Write a blog about it, that’s what I’ve done 🙂