Among the places I’ve applied to work in the last year are: a writing school, a regular school, a college, a publishing house, at least two other publishing houses, a literary agency, a cosmetic surgery clinic, an STI clinic, a garden centre, a bridal shop and a funeral home.
And half a dozen libraries. If there was any semblance of direction in my job search, then libraries was it. Because *fans self* books. Shelving. Cataloguing. The Dewey Decimal System (I am so turned on right now).
And finally, finally, one of them has hired me. It’s the cutest little village library out in the sticks, with a staff of about five, and a group of ladies who meet there once a fortnight to crochet. And the best part? Somebody makes a round of tea every. thirty. minutes.
It’s a couple of afternoons a week, and a few more when cover is needed, so I won’t be able to afford a holiday or a new laptop any time soon (please don’t be sad old, faithful laptop. We’d had some good times, but the sun started setting on our love affair around the time your m and v started sticking, and you spat out your first DVD in disgust) but, as strange as it may seem, everything has changed.
I’ve said this before, but stagnation comes easily – easier than you may think if you’re a properly functioning adult in motion – and change does not. I was nervous about a new job in as many ways as I was itching for one. I even feared that the basic skills required – communication, professionalism, initiative – might have atrophied like unused muscles. On the worst days, when future employment felt like an impossibility, a voice in my head would whisper this is just who you are now.
And I guess, in the end, that fear was the crux of the crisis I’ve been circling for the last two years; that despite my impression of myself as smart and capable and a quick study – and a history of being those things once upon a time – that I’d fallen down a hole people don’t escape from. I’d become lesser.
Plot twist: I haven’t. I’ve adapted like a champ. I’ve remembered that I actually like a new challenge, a new set of seemingly insurmountable skills to master. I love that moment when it clicks and I feel like I know what I’m doing. And it’s been so long since I got to do it that I’m not sure I even was that person the last time. I’ve never got to appreciate this part of myself before.
It’s been one of those moments when the smallest thing makes you realise you can do just about anything. But the strangest revelation this new job has led me to is that I was, actually, never stagnant at all; the reason it’s taken me this long to pin something down is a matter of opportunity aligning with need. Two years ago, I was looking to put my proof-reading qualification to use so that I could work from home and choose my hours. Last summer, I was applying for part-time admin jobs so that I could divvy up working days and writing days. In December, I was thinking of moving to London. If any of those desires had coincided with a stroke of luck and the right job, I’m sure I’d have landed on my feet. Each one was right for my writing at the time, which ebbs and flows. I’ve learned to let it, and for my pains have found myself whizzing my way through a project I’m more enthused about than anything I have been previously. Enter, the library; the perfect job to compliment me – touch wood – finishing a novel for the first time in three years.
I don’t believe in fate, just in being where you’re supposed to be, and things working out when you give them the space to. I still don’t know what life will look like a few months from now, but that’s a feeling I can appreciate now. It feels like a good place to be.