Week 25 – La Rentrée

Date: 16th September 2020
Weeks spent in isolation: 14
Weeks unemployed: 24
Days spent looking for a job: 5

I’ve been rather quiet lately on my accidental sabbatical. Maybe the pressure was building up to be able to show something for the past 4-5 months. It was also mounting on deciding what to do job wise.

I stalled.

And an opportunity came up to go on holiday. Actual holidays away from home. So I decided to let go of expectations once more and enjoy the time off. September would come soon enough and it felt like that would be a good time to start picking things up seriously again.

I won’t catch you up on week 17 to 22, nothing worth sharing happened. I did more running and cycling challenges (you can find out more here, here and here), I adopted some frogs, started selling stuff on eBay (yes, I know, I’m at least a decade late in this game), we ate out to help out and finally I went camping solo.

Holiday

I then went on my first solo holiday. 1 week with my sister and nephew at our late grandad’s house, 1 week all by myself in the Alps.

Although I’ve been off work since April, and I did my best to avoid work/career/skill improvement activities for the first month, it was the first time I was off off. On holiday. Away from home. Away from my daily responsibilities and the ‘normal’ routine. Or what has become my normal routine over the past few months. They say the only constant is change, right? So my normal, our normal is always evolving.

I enjoyed being elsewhere for a couple of weeks, after 5 months spent within a 5 mile radius of my house.

While I was in Chamonix, in the French Alps, I started dreaming of making the mountains my next ‘normal’. Maybe it was the sun shining, the fresh air, the new routine I build myself over these 7 days. Maybe it was just the ‘holiday effect’. It happened before, with New York. After a week there, I was looking up jobs in the Big Apple for a couple of months afterwards, wanting to experience the electricity of the city for longer than a week at a time. Then it faded as the practicalities overwhelmed the daydreaming.

Nowadays though, the idea of moving doesn’t seem as hard when so many jobs are remote. Finding a job in the UK while working from the Alps seems feasible. I’ll let you know in a couple of months, if the urge is still there…

the view at the top of one running trail

Back to work

While I was away, dreaming of getting better at running technical trails in the mountains, I got two messages from ex-colleagues, regarding potential work opportunities. I was on holiday but I sensed that the world at home in the UK was back at work. C’était la Rentrée.

So when I got home, it felt like a good time to be more intentional in my job search, expand it and be ambitious. Jobs may not be available in the industry I worked in the past 10 years but there are plenty popping up in other sectors. And some of them even have less than 200 applicants each! (can you sense the sarcasm here?…)

So I’m applying away. Getting annoyed every time at how long it takes to customise CV and cover letter. You’d think after doing a few it’d get quicker but no. Job specs are different every time and so everything has to be reviewed in full every time.

And I need to go for quantity, not just quality in my written applications as I need to maximise the number of interviews I can possibly get. Because I’m absolutely awful at them.

Ask me to present to a room full of senior exec and picky experts and I’ll be confident, handling questions and objections convincingly. Ask me to talk about my achievements and experience to 2 or 3 individuals who want me to do well and I crumble. You’d think I’m trying to sabotage myself… It’s that bad. It’s not rational and although I’ve already imposed the label ‘bad interviewee’ on myself, I still have hope that if I do them more often, I’ll get better at them. Surely after a while, the anxiety will fade?

The other motivation for getting the applications in is a feeling that I’m wasting time. My idea of a sabbatical involved travelling and trying new things. Both of them without worrying whether I’m putting myself and others at risk. I’ve travelled a little bit, to charming, familiar, not so far away France, mainly to see family, but both times, I’ve felt too conscious about the unnecessary risks. And I’m not even talking about the downer of the quarantine when I came back, both times… With the way things are going at the moment, it doesn’t look like it’ll get better any time soon either.

So although I’ve enjoyed being at home, getting to know where I live better, I’m getting a bit tired of not being able to travel freely. Having all this free time, I envisioned having the freedom to go where I wanted, with little notice and adapt my plans to where I was having a good time, or not. Today, I can’t do that without feeling guilty, anxious and selfish.

You might remember me writing about how I was over the frustration of not travelling during my time off. There was so much exploring to do at home. The sun was shining, my garden was growing new plants and flowers every day, virtual challenges were a new exciting thing to try. Yes, there were plenty of restrictions but it was a new situation to adapt to, which kept my mind busy.

It’s all fizzled away now and home isn’t as appealing anymore. Maybe it’s the days getting shorter and the temperatures getting cooler. Maybe it’s autumn and its call to start retreating and the end of ever-expanding horizons that spring had brought in. Like a squirrel, I feel like it’s time to bury whatever nuts I have left, in preparation for the winter when I’ll need them.

And to be able to bury my metaphorical nuts (my savings) so they are safe for when I need them later, I need to start earning money again. I don’t want to waste what I have left getting bored in Kent, growing bitter at my perceived lack of travel freedom. I’d rather take up a new job now, get busy, enjoy working from home, and give it all up in a couple of years to spend 6 months travelling, exploring new cities and countries.

Maybe new places where I’d want to live…

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