Allow yourself a stumble or two

I moved to London late November last year all full of hope and expectations for the year to come. I’d got a new job and things were looking good. Since returning from Korea in March of last year I had worked as a contract Bank Teller amongst other temp roles. To begin with I didn’t mind; it was interesting to learn about life on the other side of the till, although I did begin to struggle defending the practices of the bank to customers when I fundamentally disagreed with the realities of the global banking system. Anyway, I digress.

By November last year,  I was bored out of my mind and ready for the next step. It was time to find myself in London I decided. Or just find a job as it turned out, the rest would have to wait. I interviewed for a couple of roles and then I was offered a job, fantastic! I started the next week. I knew my new job was not going to provide unparalleled intellectual stimulation but it would be a foot in the door and hopefully set me on a path to better things.

I’d like to reach back into early November 2012 and give myself a slap for being so naive and optimistic. I’d been told by many people that their first job in London left much to be desired but I was positive that wouldn’t happen to me. 10 months later and approximately 400,000 codes entered into spreadsheets, countless phone calls of abuse from suppliers and the same repetitive email enquiries answered many, many times a day and I’m prepared to admit I was wrong.

But early on into this adventure I wondered if I’d even be able to handle a more demanding job. That’s because less than a month after moving to London I ended up in hospital for 2 weeks. My lung function had reached its lowest in nearly 5 years, I barely had the energy or breath to walk 200 yards and I was put on a 24 hour drip of aminophiline to open my airways. The doctors didn’t actually know what was wrong as I didn’t have a chest infection as far as they could tell and most of the tests used to determine infection came back normal.

There’s rarely a convenient time to spend 2 weeks in hospital, but 3 weeks into a new job is probably one of the worse times. I was worried they wouldn’t believe I was sick and just tell me not to come back. The worst thing was my health had been pretty stable in the last 2 years and this was only the second emergency admission in my life. I really didn’t know how to explain to work that this was not normal for me. How were they to know?

I was discharged on Christmas eve and picked up a lot over the Christmas break, ready to return to work in January. The doctors still don’t know what was wrong and have put it down to a freak virus. I’ve since been told that almost everyone gets ill when they move to London. I wish I’d known that at the time!

London air may not be the sweetest, but I like it nonetheless. Since then my lungs have been fairly well behaved. By May, I decided that it was time to focus on a career path and try to get into advertising. It’s not an industry without flaws but there are many reasons why I decided to pursue it.

I’ve realised there are rarely objective milestones or achievements. What is an aspiration to one person may seem easy or undesirable to another. A person may have achieved many of the things society tells us are desirable; good grades at school, a well-paying job (mine wasn’t!) but those achievements mean little to them if they think they should be doing something else, doing better.

Last week I was offered my first job in advertising. It is not the be all and end all, neither will it be everything I want it to be. But I have worked hard to get it; it is an achievement by my own standards and so I am very happy to have it.

I may have gone on a tangent but there is a lesson in here somewhere. Healthwise and career wise, this year has not been what I expected. There were times when I was convinced I was going in the wrong direction and I wasn’t going to get there, wherever ‘there’ was. Of course, where I’m going next won’t be quite what I expected either but the fact that I now feel like I’m going somewhere is the important bit.

Note to past self: you’ll keep on stumbling so try not to complain too much, just keep on walking.

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