I’m going though something of a quandary at the moment, so I thought what more would my blog readers like than to hear my tales of uncertainty.
I don’t talk about work very often on A Life Less Physical and if I’m really honest, it’s because I’m a bit scared to. People at my current workplace read my blog and it stands to reason that future employers may come across it too, therefore, I have always decided to just say nothing. But I don’t want to filter my thoughts or my writing – I always said this blog would be nothing if not honest. Now I’m having a hundred thousand different thoughts about the possibilities of making changes or staying still and this blog seems like a natural place to throw my words out and see what sticks.
And so, with that in mind, I will glug my wine and begin. Ahem.
The work bit
I don’t have a vocation. I didn’t train in a particular field and over the years I have stumbled from one job to the next, always ‘climbing the ladder’ and always getting closer to my idea of a dream job. Never before I have considered my health when changing jobs – not for a moment. I have pushed on, telling my new employer after a month or so that I have “a health thing” and may need a few adjustments.
I wrote this article a while ago on the debate about whether to declare Fibromyalgia as a disability on job application forms, but now I’m starting to think about the job itself and what I want from an employer when it comes to support and wellbeing.
It’s not just in-work support though, it’s everything. The location… Central London? No chance. The average commute here is 45 minutes on public transport – something I can’t contemplate. So what happens when I find my dream job and it’s smack in the middle of zone one? Do I turn it down or do I think, “it will be okay, I can make it work.” Normally the latter.
But it’s not just the commute; it’s the travel across offices once I’m in the job. It’s the time off when I have a flare up. It’s reduced duties when I can’t lift things or drag a mobile office across London. The list goes on with flexi-time and working hours, and continues with annual leave and sick leave, and before you know it, it starts to sound like you’re just making excuses to never leave your job.
The house bit
Then there is the bigger question of “work-life balance” and broader lifestyle choices. When I lived in Newcastle, a tiny citiy in comparison to London, my commute was a ten minute drive from door to door. My house was bigger and cheaper and I had green space on my doorstep. This sounds far more sensible when weighing up my physical and mental health, but I am a city girl at heart. Or at least, I was. In my life PF (pre-Fibromyalgia) I liked the buzz of the city and the knowledge of knowing a quick trip in to town gave me everything I needed. Now I think a rural environment where I have to drive to the hairdresser or the supermarket or a retail park would actually be easier for me. The thought of open space makes me sing.
Who doesn’t love being in a country cottage surrounded by trees and fields and beams? Yes, the beams are important. The cats could play in the tall grass (which they love), R could see the stars (which he loves) and I assume I would have a better quality of life which would be something I really should love.
You see where I’m going with this. At what point do I compromise the dream for my health? I know what my advice to myself would be: stop seeing the two as opposing desires. My dream job should factor my health, my dream house should factor my health; the two are not against each other – they go hand in hand. My health is part of me and I need to accept that and jog on. (Metaphorically jog, of course.)
The family bit
And then there’s friends and family. Family are dotted about, as are friends. Friends are starting to get married and have babies, parents are getting older and grandparents are getting super old. Where we live will impact the amount we see our friends and the quality of those interactions. I don’t want snippets of friendships, I want regular coffee dates, post-work dinners and weekend drinks. But I guess that will all change for them as they start popping sprogs – Friday nights will start to look different from them too. I dream of our cottage in the middle of nowhere, our friends bringing their bundles of joy to our country retreat for a weekend. And If they won’t, well, we will go to them because there’s no doubt I’ll be missing the city – and them too. I will work from home one day a week – writing crap like this for hours on end – and life will be calmer. More relaxed with more time to rest. Or will it?
Will I be without a job I love because no one sets up their company’s Head Office in a field in Northumberland, and instead will I be wishing I’d stayed in the hub of our country where exciting jobs are popping up every week? Where I am calmer because I have options? And will I find peace in the quiet and rolling hills, or will I feel anxious and lonely in the silence and miss the distraction of a busy, thriving capital? Am I a town mouse or a country mouse?
And so, the overiding question is: do I make changes or do I stay still? And if I choose to stay still, can I do that without always wondering if I should make changes? And if I choose to make changes, can I do that without a part of me wishing that I had stayed still?