When big things happen in your life, it’s the little things that hurt the most – the reminders.
I saw the guy that lets me through the ticket gate every evening at London Victoria. He knows my routine well enough to know I don’t normally go home at 4pm on a Friday: ‘Clocking off early eh, it’s alright for some,’ he says.
I used everything in my body to laugh it off.
I’ve done this journey five days a week for the last five years but now, everything looks different.
And yet, everything just carries on, impatiently. The world doesn’t stop just because you had a significant life event – it’s too busy to waste time on empathy.
As I walked through the carriages I looked around at all the people getting the train home from work after a long week and for the first time ever, I felt jealous.
This is weird. Five years of travelling with people hogging the elbow rest between chairs, scraping their thermal pots of porridge in my ear, sitting on my hair and dropping their suitcases on my head and only now do I realise how much commuting has become part of my identity and I have to admit, I feel a little bit L-O-S-T.
I started to think about redundancy and what a dirty word it is. Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find countless insults: useless, unnecessary, needless, inessential…
It’s a recipe for anxiety and depression, isn’t it? That’s if you take it at its etymological face value. Suddenly you’re as unwanted as a puppy with a heart murmur – charming.
I was in denial at first because it felt like it was happening to someone else, not me.
I’ve always been proud of my achievements and carving a career from intern to Editor before turning 25 was something of a pinch-myself accolade.
But you know what they say, what comes up must come down and royally screw you over, until you mistake a bottle of prosecco for a well and jump right in there.
Sting called it the rise and fall and he was pretty spot on. Actually, it was a joint effort with Craig David but Sting just sounds cooler.
They’ll say it’s not personal, it’s business, but in a whole bunch of ways it’s nothing but personal. It changes your life and the way you live it.
It determines whether or not you’re going to meet rent demands and it’s the difference between missing out on one of your best pal’s hen do or not.
It’s all of the instability you thought you went to uni or worked hard to avoid, only now the guts of your reputation are spilled all over the floor and you’ve got nothing but a dog-eared CV to mop it up with.
Will future employers think this is my doing? Will they question my skill set and think I am in fact as useless as redundancy would have them believe?
At this point, I’m already on my third consecutive play of Dolly Parton’s Nine To Five and I think the neighbours have caught onto the fact that I’m up here, unemployed, drunk and telling my cactus that it really doesn’t need to get a boob job because it is beautiful just as it is.
Disclaimer: this is during the first 12 hours after being made redundant, so I hope you’ll allow me that much.
You start to see work as so much more than just a job. It’s routine, it’s structure – it’s what makes Monday feel like Monday and Friday feel like Friyay because without employment, they’re just days and nights in tandem.
You’re an old woman in a care home waiting for the curtains to be drawn so you can tell whether it’s winter or spring outside.
I like to think I’m a pretty strong person and I’m a great believer in the idea that some things are meant to happen to us, for reasons we aren’t always aware of nor understand at the time. Clichés will get us through this baby girlz.
I’m here now, typing this and trying to salvage some normality among all the madness – because otherwise I’m just a writer that doesn’t write, and there’s nothing more sad than that.
Without the opportunity to write, we’re unbearable people to be around. That’s a paraphrase of a quote from Goodbye Mr Robin btw – such a great film, take it from someone who looks like him, a little bit. Minus the cute dimples and the bowl cut but who knows, I might go down to Rush for a revamp and get one. New redundancy hair, who dis?
I’m already on my third consecutive play of Dolly Parton’s Nine To Five and I think the neighbours have caught onto the fact that I’m up here, unemployed, drunk and telling my cactus that it really doesn’t need to get a boob job because it is beautiful just as it is.
I want to make sure I don’t fall down the rabbit hole here. I’ve read about one too many people deteriorating on this slippery slope and I owe it to myself not to let that happen.
I can view this as a catastrophic failure or, I can see it as a unique opportunity to be more than I was; to reflect on where I want to go from here and do better. Be better.
I’ll miss my job and all the belly laughs that came with it. I mean it’s the end of an era and when you’ve been part of something for so long it’s only natural that you feel hopelessly unsteady – like the first time you go ice skating and you can’t let go of the side.
I say first time but I must be on my sixth or seventh time by now and I still think the penguins should be made available for the less nimble-footed of us adults out there.
It’s the great unknown. But now I’ve had time to digest what’s happened, it’s not so scary. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Now, I’m looking at this experience as a chance to pursue not only a career I love, but a life I love.
That’s probably on a tacky wall hanging somewhere, but I don’t care. I’ll be a tacky wall hanging for now.
A life without the bladddy trains (maybe) and without someone eating a banana next to me for a whole hour – AND I get to spend more time being creative af.
I might even do a floristry course or another photography course, this is a diversion after all, I may as well take the scenic route while I’m here, eh?
I’ll never get this time back and I intend to use it to fulfil everything I can and take it for all it’s worth before I’m balls deep in another job and busy getting new-girl nerves.
So here’s my advice to you if you’re going through the same thing: F*ck etymology. You are so much more than a p45.
Love you bye.
Photography by Olivia Foley