Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

New Year, New Job

A couple of weeks ago I started a new job.  After nine-and-a-half years working as a housing officer – well, aside from two maternity leaves and a secondment in another department, so really more like seven years as a housing officer – I’m now working in the training department of a local charity.

It’s been quite an experience, starting a new job in a new organisation.  The first week was crazy, trying to work out what my job involves and what my responsibilities are, and meeting lots of new people, most of whom seem to be doing a different job, or are about to start a different job, to what they’re shown as doing on the organisational chart.  And just trying to work out exactly what the organisation does, and get used to a different perspective, working in a new sector.  And, of course, learning all the new social etiquette that comes with a new workplace.

The first week was a classic honeymoon period.  I loved my job.  I was so excited about what I was doing.  My new colleagues were lovely.  It was a really positive workplace culture.  Everything was great.  I had no doubts about the change I’d made, even though it felt like a gamble.  It’s easy to feel you’re doing well at settling in when you have no expectations other than remembering where the toilets are.  (I totally aced that one, by the way).

This week, not so much.  I’ve felt anxious.  Do people like me? Am I annoying them by talking too much? Am I doing well enough at my job? Are they wishing they’d offered the job to someone else? Am I hitting the right level of independent working?  This week I’ve been researching things I know very little about and it has made my head hurt.  I’m used to knowing what I do and how to answer questions – about dog fouling and noise nuisance and trees and fences – and although not everyone I worked with liked me, at least I knew mostly where I stood with people.  This week it’s felt strange and uncertain and almost too difficult. However, I’m pretty certain this is a normal response to a new and challenging situation – reality hitting after a good start.  Things are always changing in the organisation I work for, and apparently it’s not unusual for new people to look like a rabbit caught in headlights for a while.

I applied for this job when my old post was at risk of redundancy. It did seem sensible to try to apply for things which might be suitable for me, in case I did lose my job, but in reality, my new job just felt like something I could really do.  Filling in the application form felt like spending a couple of hours talking about how brilliant I am (I’m actually not brilliant, but I’m good at sounding like I might be) and the interview and presentation, though hard, was a really positive experience.  The day after my interview, trudging round a housing estate getting rained on and looking at rubbish left in people’s front gardens, I thought, ‘If they offer me that job I’ll take it’.  And I did.

It’s not a perfect situation.  Leaving a permanent well-paid job with lots of holiday and a good pension for a one-year fixed term part time contract felt like a gamble.  But it almost feels like a positive incentive – if I work hard and do a good job, my contract will almost certainly be extended, and I like the idea that what I do will have a direct impact on my ongoing ability to pay my mortgage.  And, for the first time in a long time, I’m happy to live with the risk.  Yes, it may all go belly-up and that would be unpleasant, but I am confident that I would survive.  Feeling able to live with the uncertainty, and being able to move onto something new, is one of those markers of progress in my own journey which I like to see.

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