What I Learnt From Working Full-Time for Two Whole Weeks

Fifty years of this? On purpose?

The very first thing they teach you at university level physics is how to structure a scientific report (something I know having my very own university level physics degree). They sit you down – all fresh-faced and still desperately gripping your quilt from home – and direct your attention to the bullet-pointed list on the whiteboard.

Still. Let’s shove my physics degree in an old Converse shoe box under my bed for a second, and present the conclusion to this experiment first, at the very beginning (gasp! Sorry fellow science fellas).

So here it is. Short but crucial. Kind of like Santa’s elves.

  1. Having a job that means nothing to you, that you feel nothing for, is not how you should be spending your life. I repeat: it is not.
  2. It is perfectly okay to have no idea what you do, in fact, want to do.
  3. It is perfectly okay to experiment with this; to sift through a whole heap of crappy jobs until you find one you love. Or one that’s less crappy enough for you to do day-to-day, to fund the things that you love.
  4. Remember, a job is just that: a job. Nothing more. It is not your family, it is not your happiness. So make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the time you should be dedicating to your family, to your happiness.
  5. If you want to quit your job after only two weeks – if you’re really sure it’s not for you – then damn well do it, girl. Get out of there! Run! Don’t look back! Whip off that lanyard and head for the stars!
  6. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for taking advantage of the free food that might be on offer. It’s free for a reason. Unless, of course, you work at a pet-shelter as the resident feeder. I’d highly recommend choosing otherwise.

I graduated from university over a year and a half ago. With a physics degree in one hand and unending debt in the other, I climbed out of the car that was brimming with all the crap I’d accumulated at uni and walked into my house not having a clue what to do regarding getting a job. Which meant that I spent a large portion of time looking for one. It didn’t really occur to me, however, to look for one that I actually wanted to do. I was too caught up in the fact that I needed one, that I needed money (the debt is always lingering somewhere close by, staring at me from behind the sofa as I blissfully watch Eastenders) so I didn’t take a moment to look for one that I wanted.

Fortunately, I got one. One where I worked surrounded by lovely, lovely people and lovely, lovely food. I was getting paid pretty well, too.

Why? You ask. Because, I reply, it meant nothing to me. The subject matter of the job, my job role, it wasn’t anything I wanted to do. Anything that I loved. It was an important company filled with incredible people, but it wasn’t for me.

It did, however, open my eyes. It reminded me that money isn’t as important as happiness. Not even close. In fact, they’re not even on the same level.

And I get it. Sometimes you have to wade through a whole gloopy mess of jobs to work your way to where you want to be. You have to pay your dues. Working Christmas day, sweating your bits and bobs off to serve soup to strangers. Waking up at 6am to take somebody else’s kids to school. You have to swap tequila shots for chilly nights in, lavish meals for a pot noodle or eight hundred, holidays to Marbella for walks in the park. But it’s worth it, if you get to do something that makes your insides sparkle.

It’s worth it, if it makes you happy.

I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon — but here, I am a writer.

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