Work, Work, Work: the unrelenting struggle for success
So you’re miserable in your job and desperate to fulfil your dream of being *insert perfect career here*? I hear you.
Are you envious of those people who go to their pleasantly enjoyable jobs, come home satiated and enjoy a delightfully and delicately perfected work-life balance? Who the didgeridoo are these guys? What is their secret?
I’m one of those insane people chasing an opportunity to do something for a living that gives me (*buzz word warning*) job satisfaction. I’m also one of those people who is, perhaps foolishly, willing to put in all the hours necessary to make it happen. As a result, I am in the murky midst of knowing full well that my work-life balance leaves much to the imagination. But I can’t stop.
Do you have a weekend without fixed plans? Work. An hour window after the pay-the-bills job and a social engagement? Work. If anyone asks me what I’m up to after work, generally my answer is…you guessed it, work. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
You might mis-label me a workaholic. That would imply I have one job that I’m so obsessed and in love with I can’t/don’t want to switch off. On the contrary, I’d love to have a slither of time off to enjoy life and give my wellbeing a much needed stroke. Right now however, the pursuit of my chosen career means I feel compelled to effectively work two full-time jobs. One job pays the bills so I don’t end up homeless. The other starts when I come home; that’s when I begin the building of skills, the portfolio, the networking and the hunt to get a cheeky toe-in-in-the-area-of-work I really want to be in.
Oh how envious I am of you ‘Netflix and chill’ dudes. If I do nothing and, shock/horror, relax, I feel guilty. Guilty because I have ambition and perhaps a little bit of an obsession with fulfilling my potential. As this quest is entirely off my own back, the only boss I have to answer to is myself and therefore I feel even more indebted to work as hard as possible to achieve it.
I’m not the only person in this boat. There are bucket loads of us doing this same thing, working two full-time jobs, one paid, one fuelled totally by ambition. If that’s you then an epic high-five is coming your way. For every person with a job they love and that elusive work satisfaction, there are umpteen others who are utterly miserable and spend their days wildly daydreaming of a better life.
I have this cray-cray philosophy that I’m not allowed be a moaning minnie about anything unless I’m doing something to change whatever I’m whining about. Pretty good philosophy, right? This entitles me to moan loads about my career because I am striving to change my working situation. It’s a blimmin’ good job I annoy the fook out of myself the moment a winge sets in and swiftly snap out it.
Every so often though I question my ambitions and wonder why I haven’t choosen a more attainable career path. But I know the answer is this: I’d be miserable and wishing I’d hammered away at achieving what I actually want to do. Who said life was a breeze, huh?
We all have our gremlins, though. Those gremlins which attempt to sabotage our stubbornness to keep on keeping on. At the moment, I’m struggling with a particularly pesky critter: nepotism. It is hopping out from every crevice and sticking its grubby middle finger up in my face. We’ve all heard the hopelessly crushing conjecture along the lines of ‘my neighbour’s dog is best mates with such and such they took one look at me, opened the door and BOOM, I’m a success’.
Now, being a rational individual I have to check myself on this. It would be easy to kick the nearest tree and wail like a toddler at how unfair it all is but hey, life can be bloody unfair. For every person who got in off the back of a favour, there are plenty of people who worked damn hard without a leg up or backhander in sight.
But still, holy smokes this is hard, right? The road to success is never smooth – for the majority of us anyway. We hear stories all the time about those awesomely successful people who underwent years of struggles and knock-backs but finally, finally they got there. Success is so must sweeter after a struggle and blah blah blah.
I, like so many others, am trying to be that person. The person who is doing what they love to do and is bloody good at it. Ahhh the dream. But wouldn’t it be lovely to be at the point where people don’t tentatively ask if there’s a tiny glimmer of hope on the horizon? I wonder if they think I should consign my mission to the wheelie bin.
Alas, no siree. Because you know what? I have belief in myself. I know my potential, my capabilities and I know that, actually, I’m pretty good. I’ve got ruddy loads to offer and, hell yeah, I’m gonna grab that buzz word ‘life experience’ and swing it around with gay abandon because, ignoring its stilton whiff, my proper experience in the real world has undeniably given me heaps of skills.
Plus, giving up is the game of fools.
And there’s this: as much as talent and ability are vitally important, so is opportunity. You have to stand out at the precise right moment, catch someone’s eye, be in the right place at the right time and all that stuff. But for that to happen there needs to be a opportune chance to shine your shiniest and, for the most part, those chances need seeking out. Eeking out opportunities is a job in itself.
Unfortunately, I’ve chosen a competitive environment (wanting to type words for other people’s enjoyment) so I’m not exactly playing the easiest of games. But dammit, I’m fiercely plodding along. If I keep going long enough, building my skills and portfolio and network etc etc, someone will notice me right? Right? RIGHT?
For every moment when I feel like I have no bloody clue what I’m doing and there being no hope of success ever, there are many more when I know I’m moving forward and edging ever closer to that teeny crack of light in the doorway – the teeny crack which is just waiting for me to shove my modest size 5s in.
In the meantime, I’ll continue working a job and working another job on top of that in order to try and not have to work another job on top of another job. Confused? Sometimes I am too but hey, I’ll get there. You’ve got love a fighter, right?
- “Bollocks to that, we’ll do it here.” The Fall’s Paul Hanley talks about his history of Manchester music
- “You’re being paid to have fun and to laugh and be daft and stupid.” John Barrowman talks to Northern Soul
- Henry Normal: What Manchester Gave Me
- Win a Michelin-star dinner at Don Giovanni in Manchester this Christmas
Northen Soul Awards 2017
Congratulations to all the winners at the Northern Soul Awards 2017. It was a cracking night. For the full list, click here http://awards.northernsoul.me.uk/2017-winners
Sign up for Northern Soul newsletter
The Northern Soul Poll
Recent Tweets for @Northern_Soul_
We went to this yesterday and it was brilliant. Get along today if you can. facebook.com/artscathedral/…
Paul Hanley will be taking part in special Q&A at Manchester Central Library on December 2nd. Tickets are free but you must register. More details at librarylive.co.uk/event/libra…
Poem for the Weekend: Uninvited Guests by Gill Lambert (chosen by our Poetry Correspondent Wendy Pratt) pic.twitter.com/aj6PSf6iJx
Henry Normal: What Manchester Gave Me Ooh but we've got some proper good columnists on Northern Soul. Here's the latest article by Henry Normal, he of Paul Calf, Mrs Merton, Gavin & Stacey, The Mighty Boosh, Alan Partridge, Red Dwarf etc etc. northernsoul.me.uk/henry-norm… pic.twitter.com/3PBi1RbKKD