I appear to have found myself reaching the end of another era. This one lasted for 16 months, let's call it going back to school. Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a reminder that it actually happened. I actually did quit my libraryland job of 12 years in February last year. I actually did go back to school. I actually did survive for 16 months without earning any money. 2 years ago I don't think I would have believed a word of it, but here I am, and I survived. Just.
In all honesty, it's been a weird old time. Despite being desperate to leave libraryland, when it actually came to it, it was a real wrench. I'd spent so long there, did a lot of my growing up there, had some really lovely friends...walking out the door for the last time was exhilirating and terrifying all at the same time. Studying at the same campus that I used to work at meant that I really didn't break the ties that bound me. I was still going to the same places for lunch, still seeing the same people, just not every day, and when I did return to libraryland it was as a customer who happened to know everyone who worked there. I have one more thing to do on campus and then that will truly be it. I will have no reason to return. It will be then, I think, that the era will be officially over. As in nail banging in the coffin over. I think I'm ready.
Going back to school was also oddly weird. I knew I would be older than everyone else, I didn't realise I would be the only 'home' student as we are called, all my other course buddies were international students from far flung lands. It's been a fascinating experience getting to know these people and I'm sure they would say the same of me. Some of them come from lands where women are very much second class citizens, they don't initiate conversations, they don't really get a chance to voice their opinions, they don't wear short skirts and skinny jeans, and they definitely don't have bright red hair. It suddenly became apparent to me how much I take my freedom for granted - it wouldn't even occur to me to think that I might need permission to go outside alone or walk down a street. Truly eye opening.
The work itself was enjoyable and interesting. The second semester well and truly kicked my arse with the group work element, I've never felt stress like it. But it was coupled with a lot of family bereavements and so there was a whole load of other 'stuff' to be dealing with as well as deadlines and group conflict. The final semester was lonely. Working on our final projects, it was entirely self-directed and so I was home alone. Often Wavey was away so I was well and truly home alone. There were times when I really missed people, and it was during those times that I would crave the work place camaraderie, but I always knew I had made the right decision.
The same couldn't be said for during the long summer break. It seemed crazy to me that we had 4 months off in the middle of this course. The summer started on a high as I found myself a job and I was really excited for the opportunity it was going to bring me. As it turned out it was a massive disaster and definitely chalked up one for the huge learn from your mistakes curve. The rest of the summer was me, trying to find a job, any job. I spent hours filling in application forms only to bang up against huge brick walls. It was utterly disheartening and I was miserable and felt defeated. The experience filled me with anxiety, and I was worried that I had made a big mistake. Luckily I have some really lovely people around me who helped keep me buoyant and made me realise that my next job hunt would be a very different time. I'm hoping that's true...
Overall, as an experience, it's been life changing I would say. I finally realised that you don't have to wallow in a job that makes you utterly miserable. There are other opportunities out there, you just have to be brave enough to commit to them. I also learned that it's possible to survive without money. Yes it's a bit embarrassing to have to admit that you can't afford lunch and will just have a cup of tea instead, but it's not the end of the world. I've always been frugal as have lived through some pretty tough times, financially. I do miss pay day though, I can't wait until I have my very first pay day again. I will feel so rich!
Funnily enough it was also a time when I became addicted to lotions and potions. Hard when you've got no money. I am now an avid fan of many beauty bloggers and YouTubers and it thrills me to pore over their reviews. I make wish lists of things that I'll get when I'm rich again. I've learned new make up tricks, think I finally have the hang of applying eyeshadow! More than anything I find these people really inspiring, they're in their mid-20s and they risked it all to do a job they love, in a highly competitive market place. Admirable.
Lots of people repeatedly told me how brave I was when I first started out in this venture. I used to laugh it off and say, ha more like stupid. But eventually I began to see that maybe I was brave. The internet is full of inspirational words that people pin and like and share, but the message that shines through is that you are in charge of your own life. Only you can make the change if something is making you miserable. I did just that. I made the change. And even though now, when I'm moving on to the next era, when I'm nervous that a job hunt could take a while, I know in my heart of hearts that I absolutely did the right thing when I walked out of libraryland for the last time. My life is changed. And I did that.
The end. (of this era)