The thing I have most enjoyed about unemployment (apart from extra sleep) is having a bit of extra time just to talk to friends and to make new friends and contacts. Conversations take a different course when you tell people you are career changing and there is a genuine outpouring of enthusiasm for your project which spurs you forward.
When I was stuck in the hamster wheel any conversation that touched on work would end abruptly after the question ‘And what do you do?’. My answer would be ‘I’m a Banker’….tumbleweed. I don’t think this was a media-driven hatred towards Bankers (although sometimes that was certainly the case), but in conversational terms it is a dead end. Now I say ‘I’m not working as I am in the middle of a career change’. ‘Ooooh, what do you want to do?’ people say, excited for you. After 15 minutes you have opened your heart and got to know this new person on a different level.
Luckily for me, my youngest son has just started in Reception at the local Primary School. Now, as he is what we call our ‘bonus baby’, I am easily the oldest Mum there and I was worried that it might be difficult to form connections and friendships with other Mums who are 10-25 years younger than me. I have heard some comments like ‘Oh you really remind me of my Mum’ and one child pointing at me shouting ‘Look Mummy, there’s Nanny’, but on the whole I don’t feel very different from the other Mums.
When my older kids started school I worked long hours, away from home for more than 12 hours per day and never had the chance to get to know the other Mums. This time around, being at the school gates has given me a real insight into what the real world has been doing while I have been locked up on a Trading floor for the last 26 years. The world of work has changed. Scratch beneath the surface and I am surrounded by very inspiring people, many who run their own business and many who have been through their very own career change. Thankfully they don’t seem to mind me asking questions, because I am fascinated to find out just how they homed in on their business and ‘found’ their new skills and passions. Invariably their stories involve an element of luck, a twist or turn that they didn’t see coming. Surprisingly, not many involved redundancy, more a burning desire to escape and improve their lives. Many have found ways to build a business that allows them to enjoy being parents. They all have a great story to tell and although they are at the gates every morning and every evening, they have found work they love that doesn’t involve selling their soul to the Corporate world.
I am starting to wish I had done this a long time ago…