I haven’t been having a good week. On Saturday I did something funny to my foot and since then walking – that most necessary of tasks – has become a subtle yet painful nightmare; Southern Rail continued its running streak of mega delays and overcrowded trains; I’ve had a bunch of dull meetings where it felt like nothing got done. Oh, and my contract has been extended and I’ve had two offers for job interviews. Yes, you read that correctly; I’m putting a job and the promise of two more in the bad column of things that happened to me this week.
I recently wrote a blog about how I’m about to be made redundant, but it’s OK because I’m excited for what’s in store (if you haven’t read it, it was super good and you should go read it now. I’ll wait for you to come back…Have you read it? Great! Let’s move on.) A lot of people seemed to like what I wrote because in the face of the great unknown, I was being positive and hopeful and trusting in God’s many different plans for me. Yet while I completely stand by what I said, I have to admit something: that wasn’t the whole story.
The very next day, once the buzz of all the Facebook likes and shares had worn off, I was miserable about my future. In fact – and I don’t like admitting this but it’s pertinent to the story – I was in tears. I was sobbing because I had to go through the laborious and soul-crushing slog of job-searching (again). I was sobbing because I didn’t just need any job; I needed something that was part-time but still permanent and really well-paid so we could get a mortgage. I was sobbing because I’d just written all about how excited I was for this big open future of mine, but now – hypocrite that I am – nothing felt like it was falling into place.
But then things did start falling into place: my manager called me into a meeting and asked if I would like to stay until February. The next day, I had an email about a job I had applied for, offering me an interview. Then I received a second interview offer for a job at my current company. Whereas a few days before I had no options and nothing lined up, suddenly all these roads were open to me. But, like I said, I counted this as part of my “bad week”.
The problem is I don’t like making decisions, but now I was faced with a thousand “what-ifs”. I could stay in my current job and hope they carry on extending my contract forever, but then what if going from temporary contract to temporary contract means we can’t get a mortgage? What if I get offered one of these new jobs and I have to let my team down? What if I take the new job and I hate it? I kept running through these “what-ifs” (there were more but, trust me, you don’t want the whole list!) I was grumpy, I was stressed and I was complaining about all these potential decisions I would have to make. But then James said: “I know this is difficult, but I think you should remember that a few weeks ago you were in tears because you didn’t have anything lined up at all.”
He was right. I was moaning about having to make a decision, but a few weeks earlier I hadn’t had any autonomy over my career at all. Do you do this? Do you forget how bad things used to be as soon as they get a bit better? Do you ask God for help and then not notice when he does, because life and God are a lot more complicated than the answer to prayer you had in mind? Do you look at the gifts you’ve been given as stressors, as chores, as yet another thing you’ll have to deal with now? In an entirely selfish way, I hope I’m not the only one!
One of my new favourite humans, Michelle Obama, is about to go on a tour of Liberia, Morocco and Spain to promote her Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to help the 62 million girls around the world who aren’t in school to get an education (Yes, I heard about this via Carpool Karaoke – don’t judge me!) The First Lady will be documenting her trip on Snapchat so that we Westerners, who so easily take our education for granted, can see these kids who, in Michelle Obama’s words, would “move mountains” to have the opportunities we have. That certainly puts my too-many-jobs “problem” into perspective.
The fact was that I had been given a gift. I had been given choices. I had been given a safety net of six more months with a team I love. I had been given opportunities to potentially have a permanent contract with a lot more money. Who was I to complain about this situation? I so often do this; I get stressed out by decisions I have to make, when actually the fact I get to make those decisions is a precious gift that many people, and in particular many girls and women around the world, don’t get. At school I didn’t appreciate my opportunities for education; I used to complain about having too many subjects to choose from because I was too good at too many things (Yes, you’re right, I didn’t have a lot of friends in High School!) These days, I complain about how busy I am, when there are really lonely people who would love to spend as much time with friends as I do. I complain about my food intolerances keeping me from eating all the foods I love, when other people struggle to put food on the table (and I live in a country that has hundreds of free-from options!)
Now, I’m not saying that the fact we live in a privileged part of the world means our problems are not real problems – knowing someone else has it worse than you doesn’t mean that you’re not going through difficult things too – but I think a lot of us could use a change in perspective. We could complain about the things we “have to do”, or we could see them as choices, as opportunities, as gifts. We might have tough decisions to make, we may be scared of taking the wrong path, but no matter how big or stressful or confusing they are, the point is that we have choices. That’s not something to complain about; that’s something we should absolutely be grateful for.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett.