Sometimes realisations happen gradually, over many months and sometimes they hit you so hard that you gasp for breath and can’t believe you’ve never seen it before. Last week I wrote on Facebook, that I think it’s time to start thinking about a job and immediately lots of lovely friends had ideas and comments about how I have many skills and things I could do. It was such a boost, but I didn’t really believe it and the next day, while driving with Lady Mck I realised why.
I was thinking about why it was that I felt so unable to do a any kind of job, even though I used to have a big, stressful, well-paid job, that I had been good at and then it hit me. So very, very hard that I physically say up straight and took a sharp breath. Immediately, tears sprang to my eyes. It was quite the extreme reaction. I realised that whilst I did have a big, stressful and well-paid job that I was good at, it was one that ended badly and it became so clear that it wasn’t because of anything I had done.
I worked in a big, corporate organisation where people were no more than a list of figures on a page and my immediate boss was frankly a sexist dinosaur. The only women he had any time for in his team, were the ones who fluttered their eyelashes, wore short skirts and tight tops. The ones who cried when they were short staffed and above all didnt ruffle any male feathers. I wasn’t one of those. I was outspoken, I had opinions. I would challenge and I was clever. I was good and he knew it and he didn’t like it. Of course there were also men in the team like that, but he didn’t have the same rancour for them. They could banter, talk football. He could relate to them. As you know if you read this blog my journey to have children had some bumps in the road and these were treated with absolute contempt by this person.
And so, I finished my first career feeling that I was terrible at the job I had been really good at, that I had nothing to offer and so I packed up and moved on to my next role as a mum, which I have loved. But now, I have started to think about what is next for me and I realise that this work related baggage hasn’t gone away. I have carried it around, locked in a little suitcase for eight years. I will never have the chance to go back and tell this person or this organisation what they did to me, what they stole from me. That time is gone.
I always feel that a blog post should hold some wisdom for the reader. Something from my experience that may help a person reading it and I’m not sure this one does. This one could just be for me. Except to say that, when we realise we have been carrying this ‘thing’ around. When we actually open that suitcase and look inside, we can start to be honest. We can start to realise that what we thought was true, isn’t true. The reality is that I had a really successful career. I got every promotion I ever went for. I finished in the job I had always wanted. My performance was always good enough to achieve bonuses and pay rises and when I was signed off work, due to mental illness, my sexist boss was conveniently and swiftly moved to a new non-people management job, which is how these types of companies deal with difficult situations and speaks volumes.
Now, I have to continue to look into that suitcase. I have to dig deep and remember what I really can do. It is time to start thinking about what comes next for me and that should be exciting and challenging and possibly a little petrifying, but it shouldn’t be coloured by a bad experience that I could do nothing about.
As it turns out, that facebook status has sparked a conversation with a friend that could lead to work and I am excited and scared in equal measure. You see, everyone sees a version of us that we may not recognise. How we feel about ourselves can often depend of who we listen to. I am going to choose to listen to those who see me now, who know me, who value me and there is none of that in that long carried suitcase.