Last week I got a call from my temping agency – I was being awarded their Temp of the month! I was flattered but didn’t think too much more of it until Tuesday morning, when my consultant came over to my workplace and, along with HR, presented me with a bag full of goodies, thanked me for all my hard work and took a photo of me at my workstation to put up on their website. The whole day was filled with praise from everyone at work, HR saying that I should celebrate with some bubbles and reiterating just how much they appreciate me and a really sweet email from my agency saying that working with me makes their lives easier.
I should add that I’m temping on reception…
It feels crazy to receive such high praise from so many people for a job which gets forgotten so much of the time. A part of my brain keeps telling me that I ought to move on and do something more ‘career focused’ but the truth is, I’m really enjoying being this relaxed and happy.
In November I quit my job. Getting into a taxi with all my belongings and feeling like I was leaving the city for the last time was equally liberating and terrifying. I had felt for a long time like I didn’t belong there – the corporate uniform made me feel increasingly uncomfortable and I realised with each passing day that I had little in common with the people I worked with. I know that a lot of people feel these ‘imposter syndrome’ type feelings but this was really different. I had realised some time before that recruitment wasn’t what I thought it would be – I wasn’t really ‘helping people’ to find meaningful and enjoyable work and my lack of sales drive (no matter how hard I visualised the house I would buy if I made all my bonuses) meant that I was never able to make any truly decent headway.
That’s not to say I wasn’t appreciated. I had been there for almost three years (a lifetime, in recruitment) and I was respected, even liked, by my colleagues. My boss, sensing that he was losing me, had recently fought to give me two raises so that my base salary was now fairly decent. I would even win sales competitions from time to time. And so it was, the recruitment high life – sipping champagne with the winners, going on beautiful boat cruises, looking out from our beautiful sky prison down on to the city. Champagne and razor blades goes the saying. Appreciation there felt very… strained. It’s odd, being appreciated for doing something which so goes against what you genuinely enjoy and are good at.
Of course, I still don’t know what I genuinely enjoy and am good at. I just now know that it’s not recruitment. It’s been a long journey – a lot of unsatisfactory jobs, even a move to the other side of the world in the hopes that I would feel more ‘myself’, hoping that cold, rainy London was the problem and not me. And while I haven’t yet found ‘the one’ when it comes to my job search, it now at least feels like I’m looking in the right direction. Now I find myself in quite a new position. I have worked hard and gotten my visa, so I am allowed to stay, indefinitely, in this warm, sunny country that I have called home for five years. And I am no longer tied to a job I don’t like.
It was freeing at first, then scary. I enjoyed doing nothing but looking after my mental health – doing exclusively the things I like to do. Then I needed some money so I took on a few temporary reception jobs – it was only ever going to be a few days here and there – and I discovered that the assets of my personality I had been covering up for fear of retribution in recruitment, actually make me good at this job. Where, in recruitment I was surrounded by people who regularly told me I was ‘too happy’ – I am now told often how lovely it is to walk into the office to such a lovely greeting, or that the tone of my emails is so fun and uplifting. I like to help people and make sure things are done properly – in recruitment this was considered a waste of time (the ‘time is money’ mentality on steroids), here it’s part of the job description and there are no targets keeping me glued to the phone if I feel like getting up and actually showing someone where something is, or going above and beyond to follow a task up to completion. I don’t get the feeling that I’m boring anymore. In my old job, even the most well-intentioned colleague would casually check their emails while I was mid-sentence. I hated it and constantly felt a mixture of belittled and massively anxious. Here people actually come and talk to me. They ask me how my day is going and stay to chat – they ask me to go for coffee and don’t check their emails even once while we’re out. Most importantly – the organisation I’m in now does actually help people, without a shadow of a doubt. And that feels really good.
Saying all that, I probably won’t temp on reception forever. I do still think of this as a rest and recuperation period before I go on to something else. But now that I’m here and have experienced all this, I have a different idea of what my next job will look like. I’m starting to see more clearly that a satisfying job will be one where I can be myself and let my true personality shine through – it’s an addictive feeling, being myself after being camouflaged for so long. It will be somewhere that I am surrounded by people who have, if not a similar world view then at the very least, a similar set of core values. An organisation that helps people – that’s very important to me; five years in sales has shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are more important things in the world than making money. And above all, it will be somewhere that I am appreciated.