Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Thanks for the support, chums


I’m career changing at the moment and so far it’s turning out to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Caught in that need-experience-to-get-a-job-need-a-job-to-get-experience catch 22, I’m trying my hardest to stay upbeat and positive.

Luckily I have some great friends around me who have been wonderful and supportive, told me I’m doing the right thing, helped me out, listened to me gripe and generally boosted my ego. Unluckily, I also seem to have another, just as plentiful, supply of not great friends only too quick to be as pessimistic as possible.

At some point in our catch up, the typical unhelpful friend will ask what my plan is, what I’m going to do etc. and in response I’ll reel out the same speech I’ve given a hundred times.

The phenomenon of Christmas didn’t help as it entailed lots of meeting up with people I don’t often see and having to go through it all again with them. Now I actually understand how one-hit-wonders feel, endlessly being asked only to perform their one famous song.

Nonetheless each time I go through it all as keenly as possible, using up precious enthusiasm which really should be reserved for my new endeavours. In my heart, I know about midway through when I’m onto a loser but for some reason I keep trying, keep flogging that dead horse.

Once I’m done, and borderline exhausted from my energy-sapping monologue I sit back and wait for a response. And then Bad Friend shows their true colours and begins the criticism. “How do you think you’re going to be able to make any money?” seems to be a firm favourite which crops up again and again. Or, coming in a very, very close second: “What with the recession, you’ll never be able to get a job.”

Thanks, thanks a lot guys, chums, pals, supposed friends. Thanks for all the encouragement.

“It’s not only that these words are incredibly annoying; it’s that they also hurt. I’m taking a risk. I know that I’m going to have to deal with a shed load of rejection. I just wasn’t expecting it from my so-called friends.”

But my new favourite came at the weekend in the form of: “There are loads of people already doing that; it’s not exactly a new idea.” OK ... I understand that would be a major problem if I was pursuing a career as an inventor, but I’m not. Just because people already do something doesn’t mean they won’t need others to also do it. It’s called a trade, a profession or even a vocation, actually mate.

When children decide they want to be a plumber or a carpenter, should parents turn round and say: “Well kid, there are loads of people doing that already. Not exactly an innovative choice, is it?”?

A career doesn’t have to be about constantly reinventing the wheel. Sometimes it’s just about crafting a wheel that rolls smoothly.

It’s not only that these words are incredibly annoying; it’s that they also hurt. I’m going out on a limb here, putting myself out there and taking a risk. I know that I’m going to have to deal with a shed load of rejection before it all comes good. I just wasn’t expecting it from people supposedly on my side. My so-called friends.

Thankfully I’ve still got the nice ones on hand to complain to. During one of these rants another thought hits me. Looking at the denigrators I realise I don’t see people totally happy in their own careers. Instead I see frustration, inertia and insecurity.

Getting your foot on the career ladder and working your way up it during your twenties is bloody hard work. I know that and so does everyone else doing it. I painfully remember the horror of trying to make your mark in cut-throat offices, playing the games and trying not to get burnt in the politics. Unless you’re a direct descendent of Machiavelli himself, it’s not a fun way to pass a decade of your life.

And if you hate it as much as I did then don’t carry on doing it. Have the courage to address what it is that makes you negative to the point of spiteful. Could it be that it’s nothing more that old fashioned jealousy causing these unkind words? Quite possibly.

To these people I’d like to say two things: look at those around you doing something different as an inspiration not a threat, and if, fingers crossed, I make it, don’t expect me to share any of the spoils of my victory with you. Read more by Rosie.