Sometimes it feels as though I am stuck on repeat when I first meet new people.
One phrase bubbles up again and again:
“I used to work in ..”
Eventually, my new acquaintance will notice the theme and ask incredulously:
“Just HOW MANY jobs have you had?”
I’m currently at number SIXTY!
Apparently, the average person will have six jobs in their lifetime, and I have reached ten times that figure before the age of forty.
I have been thinking about this recently, as I’m preparing a presentation for a school careers day. They’ve been in contact with me through an organisation called Inspiring the Future, where I’m registered as a volunteer. I’ve been to one school already last year and spoke to a class of Year 12 girls about my career so far. This next presentation will potentially have an audience of 200 Year 8s, and so I thought I’d start by writing a blog post in order to begin collecting my thoughts!
Looking back at the beginning of my adult life, it appears that two main features of my late teens have shaped my attitude to life, which can be summed up with two irritating hashtags: #YOLO and #FOMO. Yes, I do have a Fear Of Missing Out, and yes, I am acutely aware that You Only Live Once!
The first of those two features was the decision I took at the age of eighteen to apply for a scheme called Camp America. Having never been abroad in my life, and with little interest in foreign affairs, I had no fear to inhibit my decision and so off I went for a four month trip to Wisconsin that literally changed the course of my life. The travel bug bit HARD and I have since lived in or visited almost seventy different countries. #FOMO!
Upon my return from the States, I applied for a job at a local leisure centre gym, and didn’t allow a little thing like lack of experience stop me. Luckily, my new manager was willing to take a risk with hiring me and I became a fitness consultant with on the job training. The people I met during my two years at the gym were to have a huge impact on this impressionable young woman. Injuries, amputations, illnesses – the stories that people told me struck a chord and one theme emerged. Life as we know it is so tenuous, and everything we cling to for comfort can be gone in a split second. #YOLO!
I left the job at the gym to travel in South East Asia before living in Australia for a year. I was twenty three and the next seven years were spent on the move. I travelled in Africa and Europe, and lived in New Zealand, Nepal, Amsterdam, Tenerife and Italy in between a few months here and there back in the UK. I took every opportunity and found myself in the strangest jobs, including making frozen cocktails in an ice bar, performing as a goat-herder named Heidi in a dinner/show for tourists, and driving an 18-tonne coach around Europe!
One thing I was most adamant about – I would never, ever, waste any time or money on a university degree. I’d decided not to go when I was sixteen. Giving up my A levels and leaving an unfinished GNVQ behind when I went to America pretty much scuppered my chances of ever going to university anyway. I really didn’t see why people would bother, as I had had such a fantastic life without one.
At the age of thirty I learned that sometimes it’s possible to realise you’ve been wrong about something for a really long time!
I LOVED university, and was able to complete a degree in History and Politics at Goldsmiths after first studying for a foundation. Naturally, life took a different turn and I found a job at the Royal Courts of Justice as a clerk to one of the Chancery Masters. This job in time led me to my next career move – the charity sector. Having volunteered for many years, I was keen to work in a job that enabled me to help people every day. I found the Bar Pro Bono Unit through a project I’d begun at the court, and just a few weeks later they advertised for the role of caseworker. Until January 2016 I assisted people in need of legal help and left to go travelling in South America for five months, where I discovered a love of writing.
Currently, I have a casual contract at the homeless charity Crisis, which is tiding me over whilst I build up the foundations of my novel. The idea is that once I’m ready I can take on a part time job somewhere (number sixty-one) and use the spare days to write.
So, here we are at the latest manifestation of my #YOLO #FOMO issues. Who knows where it will lead? I’m excited to find out!