Unemployed to Overemployed

I am currently sitting in Cafe Nero (not the one in Clapham Common – I do go other places!) having gone to two of my jobs today and taking a break before heading to my final job of the day. Two weeks ago, I barely had one job (in that, I had ‘work’, but it wasn’t paid), today I’m struggling to find enough hours to complete all the jobs I have (voluntary, paid and self-imposed), with all my bosses (including myself) slightly annoyed I’m not doing more hours for them and whilst also fending of other potential bosses who seem to be continuously ringing me to offer other jobs, and also… you know, sleep, eat and breathe. Apparently the reason its very difficult to find a job in London is because each person in London is allocated one particular fortnight period where they are offered ALL the jobs (even ones you haven’t applied for) and at no other point during the year will they be offered jobs. This last fortnight was MY fortnight (finally) and suddenly I have loads of jobs and am doing 13 hour days. Wheeeeeee.

Of course, as far as crises go, this is probably a much happier situation to be in than the one I was in two weeks ago (which was especially highlighted by the bank account statement received this morning…. 600 pounds in, 2600 pounds out. Eek). But, in true me-style, I’m turning molehills into mountains and spending some part of each day worrying that someone is going to ask me to do something that I can’t do because of all the other things the other people have asked me to do and then the delicate balance of jobs will suddenly come crashing down on my head, with many terrible consequences that I cannot think of right now, but rest assured they are terrible and generally involve being yelled at and people not liking me (incidentally, I met a lovely gentleman the other night, who also happened to be a magician, and he told me that he ‘turned mountains into molehills’, which is a turn of phrase I am particularly attached to and offer it to you here for your reading pleasure).

It certainly is interesting being back in paid work after having spent such a long time doing unpaid and voluntary work. It highlights a strange (and inconvenient) feeling of awkwardness that I have around being paid for doing work. Which may also explain the apparent inability I have turning any of the things that I do into money-making ventures. The minute I’m asking for payment for anything at all, I start to get uncomfortable and doubt whether or not what I am offering actually does provide value for money. This is particularly problematic around things that I enjoy doing (the eternal artist dilemma – to work or not work for free?) but seems also to be an issue around work that there is no way I would do without being paid at least minimum wage. So, at the charity call-centre, leaving each shift having received no donations for the charities, but having been paid however much for my shifts was pretty obviously *not* value for money as far as the charities were concerned. The constant analyzing of my calling technique by the managers (which was meant to assist me) made this anxious feeling even worse by highlighting all the ways I could potentially have gotten more money out of the pensioners and thereby made myself worthwhile as a charity call-centre worker and/or human being.

At the pub, things are much better, as apparently I have a ‘natural affinity’ for waitressing, meaning that I’m bubbly and smile a lot and laugh when the customers make jokes. Incidentally, this is actually all you need to be a waitress, surprisingly enough, its nothing to do with food and money and all that (ok, its a little bit about that, but the important thing is to be friendly and upbeat). I have been dubbed the ‘Mick Jagger of waitressing’, which I’m taking as a compliment, though really I suppose it could go either way. Nevertheless, my mood at the pub goes in swings and roundabouts depending very much on whether or not I’m feeling like I’m ‘value for money’ or, more importantly, whether or not my bosses feel I am ‘value for money’.

And this fixation on ‘value for money’, the constant calculating and re-calculating of my current ‘value’ on the employment market stems from a paranoia that if ‘they’ discover I am not ‘value for money’ then ‘they’ will fire me. Of course, as we have already established, I am currently overemployed in low-paid work, so it’d be alright if someone did actually fire me. So, what exactly is the problem here? Why do I continue to turn molehills into mountains?

Well, here we come to the absolute end of the line, the absolute crux of the matter, which is that if they fire me because I am not ‘value for money’, then that must mean they think I’m worthless and if someone, out there in the world, thinks I’m worthless (leaving aside what I myself think on the subject, leaving aside whether or not I actually think this person is worthwhile and is capable of making such a decision on my worth and/or worthlessness as a human being), then it might very well be true. Leaving aside whether or not I actually want or care about the job, leaving aside whether or not the job is making me happy, being fired from a job means someone doesn’t like me/thinks I’m stupid/unskilled/unqualified/not VALUE-FOR-MONEY and therefore expendable. And, for whatever reason (probably my deep-seated and cripplingly low self-esteem issues… JOKES) I have decided that, in my life, it IS, and MUST BE possible for EVERYONE I EVER COME IN CONTACT WITH to like and/or love me UNRESERVEDLY.

Ah, its fun being me sometimes.

I obviously don’t have this problem as a volunteer, because I have yet to make such a disaster of a voluntary situation that it entirely cancels out the benefit of me working for free (though, I suppose there’s still time and really, if I was ACTUALLY serious about being value-for-money I would be on the lookout for any possible ways I could also potentially screw volunteer things up, just to be on the safe side and really make my life a living hell).

Anyway, before you start sending conciliatory messages, I’m not feeling sad or awful, I am analyzing the situation from a distance, which is ever-so-healthy and amusing. Because, you’ll find, if you do this yourself, that once you trace your anxieties back to their source and pin-point exactly what it is that is making you upset or anxious, you’ll realise it is so ridiculous as to be laughable. And then, once you’re laughing at it, the problem becomes a lot smaller and less significant (a mountain into a mole-hill, if you will).

Its rather like getting rid of a Boggart in ‘Harry Potter’.

Alan Rickman as a Boggart in ‘Harry Potter’. Found at http://www.ugo.com/movies/harry-potter-spells?page=4

That JK Rowling really is a very clever lady. And the next time I’m feeling anxious at work, perhaps I will imagine Alan Rickman in a green dress and an over-sized eagle on his head.

Maybe I’ll just do that anyway.

I mean, Alan Rickman is pretty awesome.



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Filed under Employment, Introspection, Unemployment

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