“WE DON’T NORMALLY GET PEOPLE LIKE YOU IN HERE”
SAID THE JOB COACH.
I gotta be honest I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
My mind monkey had no point of reference and in it’s state of wanting to appear positive… is a high five appropriate in Newquay Job Centre?
Until this year I’ve never sat in a job centre in my life. Ever.
Since my accident I’ve always worked.
After being in hospital for 6 months, it was clear I went back to my job way too soon. I rocked up at the bank with my zimmer frame and shuffled around, before progressing to crutches and my very sexy “grandad” walking sticks. Most of the customers were more mobile than me and they were over 80 years old.
Not working makes me incredibly unhappy and anxious.
A “hard work” ethic is part of my belief system and my identity (something I’m changing as part of living a Slow Life).
It MIGHT be worth checking IN WITH YOURSELF WHILE READING THIS
- is hard work part of your identity too? -
Being signed off “sick” and all it entails is a new experience for me and not all interactions have been pleasant, like the time I had to sit through a job centre meeting while having a panic attack.
A stone-faced lady plodded through her computer questions like it was totally normal to have a grown and sane woman sat in front of her rocking and shaking with streams of uncontrollable tears free-flowing down her face.
How do we get so jaded with our jobs that the basics of humanity… connection and empathy are dissolved so completely? Despite the state I was in, my heart broke for her and I silently sent her some much needed love.
- also in that moment I realised I rub my knees during a panic attack… maybe she’d seen too much Vic Reeves and was concerned about my intentions -
Thankfully my new job coach is incredibly empathic which has been such a relief, though I’ve told her that I still feel violently sick every time I’ve got to see her and not to take it personally.
She laughed. I’m taking that as a good sign.
Despite wanting to vomit every time I’ve got a meeting with my lovely Job Coach…
or receive a scary, official looking letter in the post…
or hear the ping of an email notification stating “you need to read a message in your Universal Credit journal”…
This whole experience has been an AMAZING lesson that I’m really grateful for receiving. For the first time and first-hand, I’m able understand how “The System” works, especially for us non-comformists.
When a job centre worker asks me…
“What did you used to do before”
There’s always a distinct shift in their face, energy and manner when I answer them. It’s a positive shift that more than once has been followed by the opening words of this journal entry…
We don’t normally get people like you in here.
I’m not just observing them when this happens but also myself, my ego. I’m talking Eckhart Tolle’s description of ego not a big inflated sense of self-importance though sometimes that can be part of it too.
Why am I suddenly treated differently?
Why does it matter what my career was before this point?
Each and every one of us is equally important.
My mind monkey always feels surprise and also relief that I’m suddenly treated a bit more like a human being, followed by guilt and shame because it shouldn’t matter whether my previous role was a Business Development Consultant or a Shelf Stacker in the local super market.
We’re all guilty of it...…
There’s lots of reasons why we end up in a “job” that makes us feel varying crappy emotions (from fed up to completely miserable) but one of them is the prejudice we all carry inside us.
I’m not sure where this comes from but I have a feeling that it was seeded early on, while a teenager at school.
Young Children hold no prejudice.
I remember the shocked look on my friend’s face when her 6 year old daughter came home from the very exclusive, private school she attended and declared she wanted to be a “Waste Management Professional” or Garbage (wo)man.
Someone had come in to deliver a talk about their job as a WMP and she was totally won over by the whole idea.
I wish we all retained the genuinely open curiosity of childhood.
What happens when we think like children?
We let go of prejudices and open ourselves to new people and opportunities without judgement.
We forget the “rules” and release expectations both our own and other people’s.
We start to live a life of true freedom.
It’s like we’re playing Monopoly without the rule book and everybody else knows the rules by heart. Ever tried playing to your own rules? People can’t handle it.
Non-comformists don’t even get a mention in the Rule Book. We go off-script from the start of our careers, we pass GO and collect our $200 no matter what anybody else tries to tell us.
A life of freedom means preparing ourselves for confusion and frustration, not our own but other people’s.
Last time a job centre advisor spoke to me about my future she stated she had no idea what to do with me and that’s cool because I know exactly what I need to do and that’s what matters most.
Whether I can do it without breaking their entire “Rule Book” is another matter.
I’m going to give it my best shot.