“You get everything you go for!” My amazing Mum is applauding my recent job success. I don’t want to disappoint, so I just bask in her tirade of praise.
The truth is I’ve definitely NOT got every job I’ve gone for. I’ve failed more than I have succeeded yet I’ve never really felt like a failure.
Obviously, it’s no bad thing that I don’t feel like THE BIG FAT FAILURE I AM –but why, when I’ve been falling flat on my face for most of my twenties?
I graduated as the recession hit, impeccable timing. My internship at a magazine ended and after living in the not-so-homely bedsits of Kings Cross I had to find a job, any job. After spending hours and £££s in internet cafes, sending 1000s of unanswered letters, applications and preparing for weird meetings that turned out to be scams – I was about ready to give up.
Wandering the streets of Camden after treating myself to a £7, second hand coat – I was contemplating returning to the North East as the unconquering heroine. Spontaneously, I walked into a REED recruitment office. Fortunately, they either had a slot to fill or took pity on my desperate introduction of ‘I’ll pretty much do anything’ and gave me a temping job for the NHS.
6 months later, still grateful but basically working in a windowless hole in the basement of a hospital, I put my middle finger up at London and went travelling until it sorted itself out.
Upon returning to the UK things did seem slightly better but there was still that time I took the megabus, or as I’ve come to call it, the thrombosis express, the 9 hours to London for a job interview at an Investment Bank (don’t ask) only to be told as I pulled into the pick up at Milton Keynes that the position had been filled internally.
My inner monologue was flipping the fuck out as I fantasised about throwing my (borrowed) briefcase at my plump travel companion – who I’d shared my fruit pastels with and until now, had forgiven the fact he had taken up 50% of my chair as well as his own.
Face squished against the breathy window I sulked silently for an hour before finding a grateful thought or three.
- I would never, ever be happy at an Investment Bank given it had nothing to do with journalism/I cried all the way through my Maths GCSE.
- My new suit I’d picked up for £50 in Vietnam had ripped in the arse (Western carbs) so silver lining was I prob wouldn’t need to replace it now. BECAUSE I’LL BE ON THE DOLE FOREVER!
- Every other person my age was going through a very similar situation -making for hilarious storytelling.
Since then, I’ve consistently applied for thousands of jobs, even whilst in a job, and of course been rejected. I’ve been on multiple interviews and sometimes never heard back (that feels good), I’ve consistently worked 2 jobs at the same company on many occasion to get the experience I needed, I’ve blogged, freelanced and volunteered to make up a portfolio credible enough not to always be the one making the tea.
Looking back it seems a bit ridiculous at times -but I’ve never considered giving up – even though that might have been the sane thing to do. (Flashback to lying in the dark on a studio flat floor after the electricity meter ran out)
I’ve never thought of myself as a failure yet failed over and over again…but I’m not alone. Although there’s of course many people who have done similar things, I think thick skin in particular is a mutually defining feature of our generation.
Whilst the rest of the world criticises (kiss my ass Jeremy Paxman) or pity’s us- I’m thinking it’s something to be proud of.
No fear of failing means not trying is not an option. We might not be able to buy a house but we are brave and grateful -which is a kind of credit we’re yet to be recognised for.