When life gives you lemons…

After the wonderful experience I had working full-time at Balik Arts, my standards were set pretty high for the opportunities that came my way from September onwards. I knew that my contract with the charity was temporary and so was applying to jobs throughout September for an immediate start on my return from Georgia. I remained relatively picky in my job search, only applying for roles that I genuinely wanted, in the Arts & Heritage and Charity sectors. And after dozens of unsuccessful applications, I was invited to interview at a refugee-resettlement charity.

I was ecstatic. I had found a charity that focussed on young people, was international and made me feel like I was making a difference. I interviewed at their Head Office towards the end of September and was offered the job I applied for within the week. I felt very proud of myself, especially given that I had to prepare and present a pitch as part of the interview process, which was something I had never done before. The team seemed lovely, as did my future boss, and I was offered the job with a starting date in mid-October. It was not an ideal contract, as it required me to spend the first couple of months away from home, but all in all it seemed like I was finally in a favourable, stable position.

Unfortunately, the job was not what it said on the tin, and the leadership team… left something to be desired. I spent four weeks working perfectly happily within the charity, being inducted into the role I had convinced myself would be *the one*, blissfully unaware that my role was rapidly morphing into something I did not want it to be. Out of the blue, I found myself in meetings with my line-manager where I was reduced to tears, character-assassinated and patronised, told that I wasn’t yet allowed to do the job I had signed up for… There was a fundamental misunderstanding of what a probation period is meant to be, and I was expected to roll over backwards and obey instructions until I could prove “strength of character” and thus be granted the role I had applied for… It didn’t seem right to me, and I wasn’t going to sacrifice my mental health and my happiness for the sake of a leadership team that didn’t have their priorities straight, so I resigned. In the space of six weeks, I had gone from employed, happy and motivated to resigning, resigned and low.

A month has passed since I handed in my resignation and I have no regrets about doing so. I deserve better. It has been a difficult month, and I still haven’t found a new full-time role yet, but I have taken on smaller freelance gigs and am much surer of myself than before. I look on the time I was employed by the refugee charity as a learning curve. More than anything, I am proud that I did not allow myself to be walked all over and I am proud of myself for getting back on my feet and not losing hope that I will soon find a job that is right for me.

There is a saying – “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – that, in spite of its simplicity and overuse, has been worthwhile remembering over the last month. In common usage, it suggests that a positive “can-do” attitude can help in the face of adversity or misfortune. I think it means more than just seeing an opportunity and taking it, however; I think it implies that if life presents you with something that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, only time and effort can turn that into something sweeter – something positive, desirable and valuable. It’s less about what you *can* do and more about what you *must* do if you want a positive outcome.

Time and effort have, indeed, left me in a more positive mindset where I have been able to learn from my experience. I have rejected roles that compromise what I am comfortable with and prioritised my wellbeing above all else. I have restarted my job search and, as before, have only applied for roles that I genuinely want. I hope that my perseverance will pay off in the long run, but only time will tell… In the meantime, all I can do is focus on maintaining a positive yet realistic attitude, and keeping on “keeping on”.

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