More Dirty Passions London street art

Yes.

Well, that was a short post. Us millennials don’t have time for a lot of ‘words’ or ‘thinking’ so you can stop reading now if you like. The short answer is that yes a dream job can still be a pain in the arse. If however you are stuck between tube stops or are trying to avoid conversation with someone at a party, then read on for the full explanation.

I have my dream job. I play with spreadsheets all day and fly around the world talking process and strategy. I know, it sounds weird. I still can’t quite believe it myself that I am a jet-setting business analyst. It took a long time (and some fairly lengthy negotiations) for me to get this job, and even longer for me to even figure out that it was the job I wanted. But here is the question we are pondering today, once you have finally found your dream job is it still allowed to be a pain in the arse?

The rhetoric of our time aka trending articles on Facebook suggests that having your dream job means the Sunday dreads go away and every day you spring out of bed with excitement. You dream job solves all your problems, it makes you into one of those smiling Instagram people who are so high on life that they crap motivational quotes. Oh and the dream job is always that of a digital nomad or creative influencer.

Heh.

Must be in a creative field? Nope. Careers in 2016 are more fickle than they were for our parents; we change jobs with the seasons and company loyalty is less important than feeling fulfilled. But this does not mean that the type of role that can be a ‘dream job’ is limited in the slightest. Every single one of us have strengths and weaknesses (read: me with my love for Excel and hatred for following rules)  AND more importantly we each have environments that we thrive in. Me for instance, I do really well in a small to medium company with a flat hierarchy where you get exposed to a whole lot of different areas. Put me in a traditional corporate and I turn into a bitchy, hateful, rage-monster. This means that to get your dream job you not only have to be doing the ‘stuff’ that appeals to you, but be doing that stuff in a company where you can thrive. What works for me will not work for you, unless you were the unfortunate clone that my parents kept in the attic. In which case tweet me @runawaykiwi, we haven’t caught up in ages.

Even if you are in a creative field, graphic designers get pissed off too you know. Its just that they show it with passive aggressive kerning.

Love every single second? Double nope. With my travel schedule I am on the road for at least half the month (hence why my blog schedule gets a little messed up with the time zones) and that is damn hard. Really hard. Like harder than Khal Drogo’s abs. I thrive on having a consistent schedule and being told on Friday that I need to be in America on Monday messes with my head. Oh and remember all the posts about me hating flying? I am now of the most extreme exposure therapy ever, I’m averaging about 6 flights a month with half of them being long haul – so basically I am being forced to deal. I need to do a longer post on work travel at some point, because I know that it sounds like the dream but fuck me it is hard like lego.

Dispense the good London street art

The job is also stupidly long hours and very stressful. Annoyingly this is actually something that makes it my dream job. I want to be able to make decisions, and with great power comes great responsibility. The midnight conference calls and the freaking out about presentations are just what I have to put up with to be able to have a job that is fulfilling and where I feel that I can kick ass.

Oh and that bounding out of bed with a smile that could kill a dentist thing? I am not a morning person and no matter what time zone I am in it is painful to wake up in the morning.

The dream job is not a panacea to give you a perfect life. But it does leave your brain feeling like its had a workout and make you feel like you are making progress – I’m not sure what the progress is towards, but its almost like the feeling of climbing a massive staircase with something cool at the top. You are the most important consideration in your career, there are so many components to a job that will impact on how happy you are. Finding a role & a company that work for you can be harder than finding a boyfriend who takes good Instagram photos, but when you hit the sweet spot you will find yourself writing blog posts about your dream job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hate your alarm clock and commiserate with friends over gin when it all feels a little too much.

Trust your own madness neon sign

If anyone has the perfect life please speak now. Please. We will flock to you like butterflies to rotting fruit and commit acts of worship until we learn your ways.

Sadly no one has the perfect life; the Queen has Phillip to deal with, One Direction are probably rife with STDs and Jesus had his daddy issues. Everyone is fighting their own battle regardless of if they are visible or not. The question is, if everyone experiences negative emotions why the hell are we so bad at admitting it?

Life will have its ups and downs – fact. If you are happy all the time you are either a psychopath, on some phenomenal drugs or are actually a puppy. None of these are particularly great things (except being a puppy, puppies are true life goals). Regardless of how you are feeling right at this moment, in the future you will be happy, sad, angry, hungry (totally an emotion), resentful, excited and every other fractal of emotion.

We are striving for a perfect horizon, a point in life where everything is roses and happiness all the time. But even if you reached that horison you would still feel the negatives, you would probably feel bored, sad and restless. Look what happened to the citizens of the Capitol when they had everything they wanted? No one wants to see the London version of the Hunger Games; tributes choosing between a mating fox or a can of Strongbow as weapons doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Nothing material, medical, or relationship-al can stop you from experiencing negative emotions in your future.

Given that we all 100% experience down times why exactly don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we have the language or the phrases to tell friends that life at the moment feels like the fuck-trumpet of doom and you just want a kitten delivery service to be a real thing? Instead what we do is cancel plans with flimsy excuses, we drop out at the last minute, sub-tweet, laugh too loud at parties and pretend that it is all ok. We build up a front to stop the world seeing what is actually going on, and in the process make what we are feeling ten times worse.

Millennial burnout is something that has been written about quite a bit recently. Short story is that we are giving so much passion to our jobs, and never switching off so by about 30 we burnout. It’s a symptom of our inability to talk about the negative that we hear from the burned but not the ones in the flames. We can look back and reflect, but actuating in the moment? Not a chance. I am the worst for this (and I talk from genuine experience). It’s not that I don’t trust my friends or think they would be anything other than supportive – it’s that I didn’t know things were that bad until suddenly they were.

Follow that dream neon sign

We all ‘hate Mondays’ we are all ‘super stressed out’ we all ‘have a lot on’, this is our 20-something baseline of emotion. If that is the average then how do you know when these feelings reach dangerous levels? When every single person at the table says how stressed they are, you instantly assume that everyone is feeling the way you do – you just aren’t able to cope. So we keep on keeping on, blaming ourselves for being deficient in some way instead of realising that the work/relationship/travel situation that we have ended up in is not right. We can’t even recognise in ourselves that something is majorly wrong, how the hell can we explain it to friends?

That is my experience at least. I had a job that I’m pretty sure would have killed me in the end, but I kept marching on because I thought that the stress just meant I cared, the tiredness just meant I was working hard and the fact that I had turned into a sharp and entirely unlikeable person was just who I was. I was doing everything I was supposed to, the fact that I felt terrible all the time was surely just something inherently wrong with me, not something that could be fixed.

So what did I do? Well I was absolutely fine, until all of a sudden I wasn’t. I wasn’t to such an extent that all I wanted to do was run away, I considered leaving London and going home. I fantasied about menial jobs where I didn’t have to be in charge, good lord at one point I thought “man if I had a baby I wouldn’t have to stay in this job”. Bad, bad, bad.

So I quit. I quit a company that I loved more than anything because my mental health was more important than a job was ever going to be. I took a month off to put myself back together. A month were I basically just cafe hopped and drank a lot of coffee. It was magical. Three weeks in I found myself smiling as I walked down the road, an event so unusual and shocking that I still remember it. What a state did I get myself into that spontaneous smiling was unusual?

I am me again. I am me with a new job that I love. But I am a little wiser now, I am not going to let myself burnout again. I now go to a cafe and write this little blog every morning because it makes me happy. I now repeat “Not my monkeys. Not my circus” to myself endlessly (not EVERYTHING is my problem). I let go. I have a life outside work that is of equal importance to my job. And I am doing my best to look, really look, at how I am feeling so that if I get to that point again I will know to raise the red flag to my friends.

How-to-find-a-job

First things first, stop complaining about having to send out more than 10 CVs. Given the job market in 2013 I wouldn’t even raise my eyebrows to hear you had sent out 100. To put it simply, there has been a recession and it is harder to get a job. Not that I say ‘harder’, but this does not make it impossible. You just need to think a bit before clicking ‘send’ on that CV of yours.

Step one is to actually read the job description. After looking for a week or so you tend to get desperate and just APPLY FOR ALL THE THINGS. It is a complete waste of time and will just make you feel worse. Take the time to read the job description and think about the following:

– Are you qualified

– Are you the least bit interested/passionate about the company

– Do you want the job

The qualified one can be a bit tricky, but a good indication can be the salary – chances are a graduate is not going to be qualified for a role with an £80k salary.  As for the wanting the job question, just because you want ‘a’ job does not mean you want ‘this’ job.

Now its time to get creative and get noticed. Don’t for a minute think that just because you are applying for an office job that you have to follow the path everyone else does. My favourite tactic is to send a GIF rather than a cover letter (a GIF is the silly series of moving images above). Of course, in the actual GIF that I send it is significantly more relevant and slightly less desperate than the one above.

Make sure your little spark of creativity fits with the company and the role, but don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve and go all out.

Oh and make sure your CV actually says something about you. I have had more comments about my ‘Interests’ section than anything else. Yes it is silly, but it is a talking point and helped my CV to stand out.

“Blogging, art, travel, Doctor Who, jewellery making and design,

psychology, e-commerce, comparative politics,

Earl Grey tea, shoes, baking, social history, kittens.”

Materials with a shiny surface

Clicking through LinkedIn the other day, I came across this article. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, because it verified how I choose to live my life.

I worked for four years at university to become a tax consultant – yes I was the weird kid who went through high school knowing I wanted to work at one of the Big 4. Four years of drive, four years of activities that would look good on a corporate CV, four years of not stressing about my future – because I knew exactly which path I was going to be on.

And I did it. I got there. I landed the job in the company, department and team of my dreams.

*cough* it just wasn’t for me.

I felt it in my gut within the first few months that it wasn’t for me, but I thought it might just be new job jitters. After a year I knew for sure I was on the wrong road.

It would take an age to quantify this gut feeling. But my biggest indicator was that I was turning into a nasty, introverted and agitated person – living on a knife edge is not how you should be living in your dream job at 23.

So I chucked it in. I was sitting in a cafe with my Mum and she said “you should move to London” … so I did. That is the exact amount of consideration that I put int my big move.

By god am I glad I did. Because I am HAPPY!

xx

For another take, check out this post: https://medium.com/advice-to-graduates/ec77f3e88d98