Four months ago, I was made redundant. I had been working as a manager for a local pregnancy resource centre run by a small non-profit organisation. During the seven years I worked there we ran things on a shoestring budget, and struggled to survive. Yet our client base kept growing as the funding pot diminished. It was crazy. So it wasn’t a total shock when our board of trustees told me they were closing the charity – it had been a possibility the whole time I was working there. But after seven years I just never thought it would ever happen. We always made it through.
And then we didn’t.
I’d never struggled to get paid work. I would go around, look for work, apply for something I thought I’d be good at…and if I got the interview I usually got the job. So I naively assumed that with so much more experience, plus now with half a postgraduate degree in the bag (still got the other half to complete this year), I’d be able to find a job fairly easily.
I was wrong.
At first it was fine, I had money to keep me going, but when I went two months with not even an interview despite applying for more jobs than I have fingers to count, I began to get depressed.
Not being able to go on a train to visit friends was hard. Not being able to buy my friends birthday presents when they’d been so generous to me when I entered my thirties this year was horrible. Seeing friends enjoying holidays as they shared photos and videos on social media sites made me jealous. And I began to feel like a big fat failure.
The thing I’ve not taken into account is that I never stopped working. Yes, for sure the working has been less – but since becoming unemployed I’ve been a judge for a writing competition and the trustee of a charity. And I’ve finished my Girlguiding Leadership Qualification and continued to run two Girlguiding units – the second of which has doubled in numbers since we started it two years ago.
I’d put my confidence and identity into the work I do to earn, discounting all the work I do to give.
In two weeks time I will start a temporary job over Christmas for a shop in the city centre. I will be earning again (not much, but better than nothing!). The same week I will be a chaperone for the Edinburgh Gang Show and I’ll be starting my final theory course for my postgraduate qualification.
Of course I hope to be earning in a job with a more permanent contract in the near future, but I need to remember those words. It’s not about what I earn, it is about what I give.
Because in truth, I know which ‘work’ has been the most rewarding and fulfilling!