Sunday, 27 February 2011

On Vocation

I feel like I'm on a train, I don't know where it's going and I don't really remember getting on. And I'm not really sure whether I want to get off or not.

As 'Flubberbean' (or a poorly disguised N) pointed out in the comments to my last post, the all-singing, all-dancing return to the Blogosphere I had planned has failed quite spectacularly.

The thing is, to bring an oft-repeated and increasingly tired excuse out of the bag, work has been taking over my life, again. I think I understand what stress is now. Not stress as in a medically diagnosed condition, work-type stress, you know. The kind that finds you while you're sitting on the train on your way to the office and fills you with dread. That wakes you up in the early hours of the morning with a chilling reminder of all the things you simply must do first thing and absolutely mustn't forget. The kind of stress that's not content to just wake you up, but also leaves you lying in the dark composing emails and studying reports in your head.

My job has started to take a previously unheard of toll on my real life. I suppose it's par for the course as you get older. And I accept that this is something I need to learn to handle, if I'm to climb the career ladder.

The thing is, while I'm grateful that increased responsibility is being thrust into my questionably capable hands, I find myself wondering whether I'm on the right ladder. Is this definitely what I want to do? Is this really for me? Or did I just fall into it?

Many of these questions stem from panic I think - when you take new things on there's a period of transition where everything feels up in the air. But it's also sparked some serious soul-searching.

At work I'm surrounded by creative types. Designers born with an urge to draw, editors with an innate love of words. Looking at them, I can't help but feel jealous. Then there's N, or Flubberbean as he's taken to calling himself, who was born with a mind that works like a computer. I'm sure he sees the world as a sequence of 1s and 0s, of if statements and hidden code.

Could it be that everyone is born with a set of talents perfect for a certain role? Perhaps everyone has something they're good at that, if nurtured in the correct way, will make them perfectly suited to a particular function. But how do you find out what your talent is? How do you know what you're naturally good at unless circumstance lets you find it?

One of my biggest selling points, that I plaster over CVs and cover letters, is that I speak French and Italian. But this isn't something I was born with: I liked it at school, so studied it at university, so feel duty bound to use it professionally so as to justify the horrible amount of money spent on developing it. Circumstance, coupled with choices I made when I was too young to understand the consequences has led me to where I am today, and I find that frightening.

If there were a magic test that could dig out one's hidden skills, where would I be instead? I wish I knew whether I am taking the right road. Then again, I very much doubt that I was born with any useful talents, and chatting, slouching and simming won't get me far at all. Damn shame that, I'd be King of the World if they were sought after skills.

Monday, 7 February 2011

On All This Woe

I've not updated my blog for a while now. I'm sorry about that. The reason for my absence is that as soon as January ended I spent an entire week dancing and singing around its grave. With that now well and truly out of my system, I've returned. With a vengeance.

All apologies aside, back to what I wanted to discuss. I should begin with the admission that I talk too much at work. I can't help it; I'm encouraged, in fact, by the two colleagues I share a desk with, who are capable of chatting just as much as I am. We've come to the conclusion that the days fly by if you fill them with meaningless, inane chatter - so much faster than if you fill them with meaningful, productive work. Yesterday, our topic du jour was mantras; the phrases we live our lives by.

My boss' was something about not wasting time worrying about what other people think of you. The other person offered 'live each day to its full potential' as his choice. I thought both of these efforts were a bit wanky, if I'm honest, and prepared to wow them with the (Shakespearean!) phrase that I have adopted and refer to in times of need:

"All these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come."

Suffice it to say that my mantra was not greeted with the awe and appreciation I thought it deserved. One argument was that I was just trying to sound cultured and, in doing so, sounded pretentious. The other - and the one that really hit home - was that it suggests that the present is always going to be crap.

And when I say 'hit home', I mean it - it really did. It was a revelation, of sorts. I've realised that living my life like this is like waiting in an airport for a connecting flight - I've left the comfort and warmth of the past, and I'm waiting to arrive in a distant and happy future. In the intervening period, I've resigned myself to putting up with discomfort, impatience and boredom.

Those of you who have persevered and managed to stick with this blog for a while will know that I'm fairly obsessed with the past. This manifests itself in the music I listen to, the fashion I appreciate and the places I feel most comfortable. Give me Motown over dubstep, dusty old books over new technology, a Victorian terrace over a skyscraping penthouse apartment. The past holds an endless fascination to me - both my own history and the histories of the places and people around me.

The future I envision, meanwhile. is a hazy ideal, a land without debt and without trouble. It's what's left after I unpick the tangled mess of issues I convince myself I'm currently burdened with. It's calm and it's peaceful; a Shangri-La waiting at the end of a long and winding road. My vision of a perfect future is also, of course, hugely unlikely, but I wouldn't look forward if I were being realistic.

What this boils down to, I suppose, is that while I place huge importance on what's happened in the past and spend many a wistful moment imagining a warm and cosy future, my present is passing me by. It's sneaking by almost unnoticed while I'm waiting, while I'm looking back or daydreaming. It's as if every day is an obstacle, something to be wrestled with and dealt with as soon as possible. I treat each day as I treat my emails - I can't wait to flag them complete.

I know it's a bit late to be making resolutions, but I'm scared by the fact than if and when I do reach the light at the end of the tunnel, I'll have nothing to look back on except decades of seriousness, concern and worry. I think I want to have some more fun. I'm sorry if the tone of my posts of late has been somewhat tedious and difficult to get through. But there is an end in sight; I've decided that I've had enough of the woe - bring me the sweetness. Now. Please.

PS Congratulations Lauren on being 20sb's featured blogger for January!