I got an exit interview questionnaire today and the questions were basically asking me why I have chosen to leave the school and what the school might be able to do better in the future.
I did smile as I read the questions because I know that the Rachel from five years ago would have had a couple of drinks and filled it out with unfiltered honesty. These days my approach to ‘telling the truth’ is much more reserved as I realise that it’s not helpful to burn every bridge once it’s been crossed just so I can feel like I’ve made my point.
I did tell the truth about the kids though, and I’m glad I did. There are days when I don’t even feel particularly safe leaving my room because the kids are so aggressive and nasty and I think that’s a really sad situation.
And I think that the school probably need to know that there are members of staff feeling that way.
Honesty is nearly always the best policy – but you should probably give a few home truths here and there. Just down burn that bridge down as you go.
So, I’m a little bit late to the party but I’ve finally decided to start reading the Harry Potter books. I’m on the fourth book and there are things that I do like and things that I don’t like about them. One of the things that I REALLY like is Dumbledore.
I’ve always had problems with managers at work because I feel quite scared of them. I am always scared of getting shouted at and a lot of managers are shouty, so I have good reason to be nervous.
However, I have had a few managers who have been amazing and I’ve never been able to put my finger on what it is that makes them so great. After reading these books I can safely say that they are all very much like Dumbledore.
I know that if I was a teacher at Hogwarts I would feel 100% safe with him as the head. He is fair and he has such a calming effect on the school. And what I’ve realised in this book is that he does have people that don’t like him and he just seems to be OK with that. I could never imagine him lashing out even if someone really went for him.
How I wish that Hogwarts was a real place so that I could go and teach there. I think that Dumbledore would be the kind of boss that I love so much I even get a little bit of a crush on him. Is that weird or do other people out there get what I’m on about?
I really hope that my words resonate with some people out there because this is a fear that has crippled me over the years. I’m not sure if it is down to some repressed trauma; maybe I got locked in a cupboard when I was naughty back when I was three?
I can joke about it but the fear of being asked into the office has made my life a living nightmare. Every time it happens I can feel myself sweating and my heart palpitating. And then nine times out of ten, whatever my manager wanted to say to me is positive anyway!
I think that a lot of this fear comes from my own insecurities. I constantly worry that I’m going to get pulled up for doing something wrong and a lot of the time this prevents me from even starting something. I sometimes wonder where I may have gotten to in my career if I had been more fearless and cared less about the dreaded office. I wish that I had known in my twenties that it’s fine to get something wrong. We all make mistakes and that’s how we grow and develop into strong and wise people.
If you are struggling with the fear of the office, try to see it as a place of growth. I understand how it quite literally feels like a tomb, like a place that I’m never going to escape from once that door closes behind me. It’s about as scary as being buried alive for me, so I know that it’s worthy of a panic attack. There is nothing to be ashamed of in feeling this frightened but do draw strength from the knowledge that there are lots of us that feel the same. I pray that you find strength and that next time you are called into the office there is a positive outcome.
As I try to tell myself that this is all for money.
I need the money if I want to live,
Without it humans simply shrivel up and die.
It’s our lifeblood, it makes the world go round.
But me, I hate the stuff.
It’s crude papery body flutters through my fingers,
Never there quite long enough,
To make a difference in life.
It simply swoops into my line of sight,
Plucks all the happiness that’s curled inside my hand.
It tells me that I’m never good enough,
That my boss will want me out, or want me dead.
Eventually it pecks until there’s nothing left.
I’m just a shell of who I used to be.
Perhaps I’m shy of work, of effort and of toil.
Perhaps I am just trouble, a burden on the state.
Whatever the reason, I’m scared of what will happen.
I’m scared of what will rob me of the life I have,
I’m terrified of the lifelike claws that dig their way,
Inside my thoughts, into my life.
I’m holding on but I don’t know
How much longer this can last.
My grasp is failing.
I am falling.
It is done.
I work part time because I’ve had some horrible experiences at work that have really left me quite frightened. Some people might sneer and say that I’m being a bit of a snowflake, but I’m really trying and this is a poem about that battle.
Every day that I go to my job I have to battle internally with all of my demons and, quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I sometimes worry that I’m work shy, but I know from the amount of effort that I have to put in to just show up that that can’t be the case. I must be committed if I am going to this much trouble.
On a daily basis I have to tell myself that I am trying and the very fact I am getting in and standing on my own two feet is proof that I am winning the battle, little by little. It is terrifying and yet I still do it.
And then, I have the daily reminder that I need to work if I am going to have the money to eat and do the things that I want to. I sometimes worry that eventually it’s all going to dry up and then I will die. It feels like a wild animal is chasing me down and that is where this poem comes from.
If you are struggling with a fear of work and getting fired and everything that goes along with that, then I hear you. It’s horrible to fear something that is so important in life. I hate when I hear people say that they live for their jobs because I wonder what is wrong with me; why can’t I have that passion? Instead I am left with a crippling fear and a life that I feel is half lived. If you are like me then I would love for you to know that there are other people out there. You are not alone. Speak to someone, get counselling. Just don’t let it drive you to the point where you are done.
I think that one of my biggest problems during my twenties was the fact that I didn’t know how to live my life as I was made to; I didn’t know how to live an authentic life. What I mean by that is that I spent all of my time trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations and then had no time left to explore what was important to me.
When I was at school I was a straight A student so I turned to my parents and my teachers for guidance in what I should do when I left. The feedback I got was that I should be a doctor because I was clever and that was what clever people did. However, this did not take into account any of the things that I enjoyed outside of school; it was a decision based solely on how well I retained information.
So, off I went to college to pursue this ‘dream’ and I came royally unstuck inside of the first twelve months. I dropped out of college, found myself pregnant and eventually addicted to alcohol, and that nightmare continued for a whole decade.
If I had paused for a moment and thought about what I really wanted to do with my life, I would have known that I liked the more creative subjects like English and Art. I may not have landed a job that held the esteem that being a doctor held, but at least I’d have finished college and started doing something that I was passionate about.
I think that a lot of people do this; my case not a rare one. Of course, not everyone finds themselves so desperately unhappy that they turn to alcohol, but there must be millions of people out there, stuck in jobs they hate because they didn’t listen to what their heart was telling them at crucial points in their lives.
So what would my authentic life look like? Where would I be if I just did as I pleased and didn’t listen to society? I’ve had a think about it and it’s a really fun game to play. It even gives you a starting point from which to start turning your life around; a goal to aim for that is more in line with what really makes you happy.
My authentic life would involve being a writer who is a little bit reclusive. I would just visit the shops in my local village and I would have a pug that I would dote on. I’d be super conscious of the environment and never be wasteful or drive a car. The most interesting thing to come out of my research was that I would like to live in slightly more unconventional lodgings. I thought a van or a tiny house would be ideal until I stumbled upon cob houses. They look like little hobbit houses and they can be built really cheaply and quickly. I don’t know whether I could ever live this life in reality, but it feels more true to me than the life I currently live.
If you want to find out what your authentic life could look like here are a few questions that you can ask yourself and a few exercises that you can do:
Does the work you are thinking of excite you? If it’s really true to you then you should actually feel a flutter in your heart when you think about it. You will know that it’s something that’ll never give you that Monday morning dread. It will inspire you constantly and never fade.
Where would you want to live? Some people thrive in the bustling city whereas I know that the Lake District would be far closer to my ideal.
Try free writing or journalling to see what comes out. When you’re not consciously thinking about the societal pressures that you have on you, some interesting things might emerge. For this same reason, meditation can be useful too because you’re not thinking about the hear and now and the bills that need to be paid and what the kids want for tea.
Think about what you can do to be of service to others. This is the cornerstone to a happy life because you get satisfaction from helping others rather than constantly competing. Even if you dream of being a CEO, the saying goes that if you’re not prepared to serve then you’re not ready to be a real leader. You won’t inspire anyone by just barking orders and the novelty will soon wear thin for you, so keep that in mind.
Be open to being vulnerable. It is not weakness and it will help you to learn a lot about yourself.
But most importantly, just enjoy yourself. Life is supposed to be fun and a lot of the time we force ourselves into boxes that don’t fit and it just makes us miserable. Other people don’t know what’s best for you; only you know that, so do some homework and find out what it is!
I have a child and that means that I have had to work part time and evenings for nearly all of my twenties and early thirties. I’m looking forward to the day when I can waltz into a normal office job, but for the time being I’m stuck with the sucky jobs that very few people actually like. I’m talking the retail and the hospitality jobs that are low pay and sometimes really thankless. Some of these jobs are amazing but I bet there are more people complaining about them than raving about how great they are!
But are they really that bad? There are some people out there who seem to love them; always happy and joyful when the rest of us are grumbling about nasty customers and physically demanding tasks. It got me thinking about how these people do it. How do they remain so perky when the rest of us feel like we are on our knees?
And after lots of reading and watching talks and trying things out myself I have realised that kindness and caring is the key. I thought that was a bit of a cop out of an answer but it really is true and this is why.
As human beings, we are wired to be social and to live and work in community. The world as it is, makes this soooooo hard to do. It just takes one bad thing to happen in your day and your mood is ruined and you are far more likely to pass on those bad vibes to the checkout girl who is taking her time scanning your shopping!
But what if that checkout girl breaks the chain of ill will? What if she smiles back at the angry customer and at least tries to be pleasant? It’s not necessarily going to appease the angry customer but it might do. And if the next person that he comes into contact with is also very pleasant, it might have even more of an effect. If everybody he comes into contact with gives him excellent service and a smile it’s going to be hard for him to stay mad at the world at large.
And then the effect on the checkout girl is positive too. Just the act of smiling and being nice floods our bodies and minds with all those happy chemicals. Providing the customer doesn’t scream at her she can just carry on with the next customer and forget about him, knowing that, at least she has done the very best that she can.
The positivity of that checkout girl has a snowball effect, gathering more speed and more force for both her and the people around her. It’s infectious and that is a very powerful thing.
The point is that we can’t counter bad behaviour with more bad behaviour. It just doesn’t make anything better. We need to make a mental note that we should come out of every interaction having made a positive difference in that person’s day. We should never leave somebody having made their day worse.
We also feel happier and more successful when we behave in this way. It’s truly very difficult when we deal with droves of nasty customers, but those that are happy and joyful in their ‘sucky’ jobs are the ones that don’t let that first one completely deflate them and cause them to be ‘off’ with everybody else. Feeling like you have made everybody’s day better is the ultimate way to feel successful too. Stop measuring your success in money and measure it in how good you feel!
And funnily enough, it is the happy and positive people who are less stressed and more likeable and ultimately more likely to get promoted through the ranks (if they want it, because let’s face it, they’re normally pretty happy anywhere!).
So next time you have a crappy customer, smile and wish them a nice day. At least you can feel good within yourself even if they choose to remain miserable and angry.
I have spent a lot of time looking into how to be more productive and there are so many things out there that can help. Everything from calendar blocking to bullet journalling can help with the organisational side of things. And then you can look at all the self help stuff to help you with your procrastination and fears. But doing all of this stuff doesn’t actually get the work done. And what exactly are we trying to achieve in the first place. Being busy for the sake of being busy is just a sure fire way to get yourself burnt out.
So what is the optimum working speed? Should we all be pulling all nighters and working until our fingers bleed? And how do we measure how well we have done? Is it by how many words we have typed, or how many likes we have received over the course of a day? Or is it based on monetary return? There are so many ways of measuring but one way that is very rarely looked at, is how much happiness an activity has brought you.
What good is it to earn a fortune and to not feel fulfilled at the end of the day? There was a time in my life when my identity was so tied up in how much I achieved and at what speed that I quite literally felt hollow. I could produce loads of work but I wanted to gouge my eyes out by the end of the day.
So, when you are watching any of these videos on youtube that show you how to make your day more worthwhile and full, think why you are watching it and what you want from the work that you are doing. Sometimes, doing some arts and crafts (which you are doing for enjoyment only and not to sell the fruits of your labour) can be much more rewarding than working away at the blog that is making you tonnes of money. Sometimes, doing some voluntary work is the way forwards. And sometimes just doing nothing is pretty awesome too. In fact, the people who can sit and do nothing without feeling irritable are the people who are most at peace with themselves.
But, if you are wanting to get more done then try and take the distractions out of your life. Things like social media and TV would be the first things to get rid of. And then really think about what you want out of a piece of work. It doesn’t have to make you money to be of use. If you know what you’re looking to get out of something then it’s far easier to keep motivated and on track. It’s also worth writing out goals and monitoring progress as this can also help when you start to flag. I’m always far more likely to procrastinate when I’ve lost my passion for a project and this is normally because I don’t know what I’m aiming for any more.
With all of these things in mind I wrote a little poem about being productive and how money shouldn’t always be the end game.
The thought to me that is most seductive,
Is “what if I could be a little more productive?”
If I were, would I smash my every goal?
Would I seem like I was on a roll?
I’d be sure to make a tonne of cash,
And live a lifestyle that’s really very falsh.
But this could come at such a price,
That no amount of clothes could be that nice.
So do the things that you enjoy,
Because the money myth is just a ploy,
To make you think that you’re not good enough,
That you’re not made of the right stuff.
But, my dear, you really are,
Already quite the shining star.
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