Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited but goodness I was nervous. A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares about being late on my first day. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic and scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe and by the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it. My team took me out for lunch.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved. This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking. I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

10 interview tips

I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time surfing the internet in search of interview help before I went along to my first one yesterday. I was a nervous wreck of course and it would have really helped to have some comforting advice all in one place. Some of these things I found out and knew before I went, some I wish I knew, either way, I’m glad to know them now and to be able to share the knowledge.

One – Remember that the person doing the interview wants nothing more than for you to succeed. If you’re perfect for the job and they can hire you, their job is done. Bear in mind they may already have a heavy work load and interviews could be keeping them away from it. They’ve advertised a role because they want to fill it and they’re probably pretty keen to fill it quickly. They need you as much as you need them. So do them a favour and be perfect.

Two – Confidence is everything. Make sure you feel confident in what you’re wearing and think the outfit through in advance. Black and white is safe, but a colour can be nice. A blazer is good. As a couple of my trusty friends told me, you can never be too smart.

Saying that, don’t try too hard and make sure you’re comfortable more than anything else. I’ve never been a make-up kind of girl, but before my interview yesterday I was so worried about looking my best, I caked it on. Then I got so ridiculously stressed over whether it looked alright, I took it all off and started all over again. In the end I went with what I’m comfortable with. A light splattering of mascara and some lip balm and I felt so much better for it. Simply stick to what you know and you’ll be fine.

Three – Reserach the company. Practice answers to all the predictable questions. Particularly: Why do you think we should hire you for this job? What do you think we are looking for? Tell us a little about yourself? Whether you have a friend or loved one who has the patience to listen or not. Sit in front of a mirror if you have to. Practice until talking about yourself feels completely natural.

Four – Be Prepared. Take a bottle of water. Plan your journey, work out your travel time and leave extra early. Take tissues. Take a pad and pen. Have contact details for the person interviewing you in case you get delayed. Know who you’re calling when the interview is over to debrief.

Five – Expect the worst. If your ideal interviewer is a man, imagine it’s going to be a woman. If you hope the interview doesn’t involve any practical aspects, presume it will. Make sure when you get there, you’re ready for anything and you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

You probably will be. My interview yesterday was really enjoyable. No-one ever tells you that if you’re interviewing for a position that you actually really want, you’re actually very likely to enjoy meeting the people, seeing the office and getting a glimpse into what could be your future. So get excited, not just nervous.

Six- Remember to ask questions. This isn’t just an opportunity for them to figure out if they want you. It’s a chance for you to decide if you really want the job too. Be sure to get a feel for the surroundings, the people and the working environment.

Seven – Reread the application you submitted before you go. Remind yourself who you are on paper. Remind yourself of everything you’ve learned from every job you’ve ever had. Remind yourself what you did and didn’t include. Pick holes in your history as if you are the interviewer. Try to figure out where the holes are and come up with excuses for things they might question… Low A Level Grades, 3 months out of work etc.

Eight – Be ready to show them that you are the person specified. Save a copy of the Job Description before the closing date because there is a high risk of them taking the online vacancy down afterwards and removing any trace of the job description with it. This is bad because you want to be able to reread the person specification before interview and ensure that you fit. Have examples of times when you have done exactly what they say they want you to of done. If they say they want you to be organised, make sure you can think of an example of a time when your organisation really paid off. Also, use the job description for interview clues. They’re likely to base their questions around it.

Nine – Remember you’re only human and they know that. Don’t freak out if you can’t do everything they said they want you to be able to do and if you aren’t everything they said they want you to be. Be aware of the things that might hold you back at interview, but don’t be discouraged by them. Be ready to recognize your faults at interview and show a keenness to improve, challenge yourself and learn new things.

Ten – Believe in yourself. You’re going to have to talk a lot about what you’re good at and how amazing you are. If you don’t believe it, they never will. Hold your head up, smile and be proud.

The Common Cold. Cough, Sniff, Sneeze, Repeat.

Last week was great. Exhausting, but great. I was at the restaurant all day every day except Thursday, training along side a really lovely team of people who I already feel like I can be my weird and wonderful self around. I still can’t carry plates or trays confidently, but hey, everyone else seems confident I’ll get there. I hope they’re right. That aside, all’s well and I can’t wait to get stuck in again this week. Friday night we went out as a staff team and all had such a good time. I’m so excited for the restaurant opening. As well as a little nervous, of course.

Thursday, Dave and I and his family went to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford. They played much better than they did against Chelsea today, thank goodness. It was a really great match, well worth the trek up there and back. We won 4-1 and a couple of the goals were absolutely brilliant!

Yesterday was a lovely day. I caught up with one of my best friends over coffee. We had fish and chips from the chip shop for dinner. I watched Strictly live, for what will probably be the last time this year. (Saturday nights will be spent in the restaurant from now on.) Dave came over later on. We stuck Bicentennial Man on my TV, managed about ten minutes and then fell asleep.

All that’s great and wonderful aside, I’ve got the worst of colds and I feel very sorry for myself. My head literally feels the size of Jupiter. Seeing as, for the near future, I’m going to be working in a school and a busy restaurant, I’ve a feeling I need to get used to fighting off the common cold. Problem is, every time I have a cold I’m convinced it’s the worst one I’ve ever had.

This one is the worst. Honest. The pile of tissues next to my laptop is pretty sizeable. All day I’ve been devoted to mission 101; get rid of cold before training week number two. I’ve drunk lots of coffee, water and orange juice and I’ve eaten and eaten and eaten. Here’s hoping I’ve done enough.

The only way is up

I’m in the kitchen with my mum. Bacon’s in the frying pan, I’ve got a cup of tea in hand, I’m a happy bunny. I’m wearing my roughest jeans and a hoodie and I’ve definitely got that Sunday feeling.

Work last week was better than I ever could have imagined. I went back into the school on Monday a nervous wreck of a Bronwen, but when I left that afternoon I’d found my confidence again. Honestly, just like that. It was like something clicked and I finally got over the fact it was all new and it started to feel familiar. Nothing’s more comforting than familiarity.

I knew I was comfortable when I found myself singing everywhere I went.

This week’s my training week at the restaurant and I’m so excited! Will be great to meet everyone more than anything. Feels so productive to be working again.

This evening I’m off out for a curry with some old friends from school. My brother’s home from uni this weekend and I’m stealing as many hugs off him as possible before he leaves again. My mum’s still promised me a teeny tiny roast at lunch time. (Can’t ruin my curry but don’t wanna miss out on roast either. Especially when roast lunch is going to be a whole family occasion.)

My mum found out she’s finally got the job of her dreams this week. She’s wanted to be a LSA for as long as I can remember, but she’s had the worst luck. I was so happy when she told me that this time, the position is hers.

I’m more addicted to The Walking Dead than ever, so studying has kind of gone out of the window. In a way though, I felt like I was studying all week at the school. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I couldn’t help thinking about the ways Music Therapy could be applied everywhere I went.

The butterflies only flutter occasionally now as if to remind me they’re still there, but they’re manageable. Peace has been restored. Everything is on the up.

Brown paper packages tied up with string

It’s Sunday again. The whole house smells of roast beef and I can’t stop smiling. Sunday’s are my favourite thing.

This week’s been a good’un. I’ve had a Cadbury creme egg with breakfast almost every day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I didn’t wake up until eleven on Monday morning. It’s been what feels like an eternity since I slept in that long and I felt so good for it.  I jumped out of bed and headed downstairs to find that my grandparents, who’d been over for Easter Sunday, had stuck around. We had lunch while listening to Heart FM, who claimed to be playing the 100 happiest songs of all time.

That night I met a few friends for dinner. I had Bruschetta, BBQ Chicken Quesadillas AND a side of fries and discovered my eyes were most definitely bigger than my belly. We headed for cocktails afterwards, simply because none of us were ready for the night to end when we left the restaurant. Tuesday we went bowling. I was the only one in velcro shoes, as per, and I ordered a slush puppy for old time’s sake. I got a couple of strikes, but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I very nearly beat one of the guys in a game of pool afterwards though. Wednesday I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in literally years. I had a singing lesson that evening and surprisingly, considering I really didn’t sing that well, I came away from it feeling like conquering life.

One of my bestest friends and I made it our mission to get fit this year. We joined a fitness class in January and much to my surprise, we didn’t drop out after the first couple of weeks! Our instructor’s been amazing and, much to our dismay, she’s upping and moving to Spain. Wednesday night we went along to her leaving dinner. I ordered fish and chips when I definitely should have ordered the lasagna. That aside, we had a great evening. Here’s hoping whoever takes over is as good at kicking us into action as she was.

I met two lovely ladies for lunch on Thursday. The sun was out, and I wore my sunglasses and that made me ridiculously happy.

That afternoon I had a job interview. Yep, that’s right, a job interview! It went really well and I’m hoping I’ll hear from them very soon. I’m venturing into the world of Primary School education. For a while I’ve been considering a PGCE. I spend so much time ranting and raving about how the education system is going down hill, how I’d love to inspire and encourage the next generation and how teachers are the most amazing people on the planet, I figure I really should step up and at least try it. I’m applying for Teaching Assistant positions, planning to get some experience first of all.

I’ve started scrapbooking too! It’s not going very well, but I’m enjoying it all the same. I started in a pad I found in the cupboard. I’m considering it a draft. I want to buy one of them snazzy Paperchase ones when I finally get another job.

This week has been conclusively better than last week. Sometimes, it takes hitting a bit of a low to get you moving. How can you pick yourself up if you’re already on a high?

My mum just called to say roast dinner’s ready, bang on cue. Onwards and upwards from here.

Part time Sale Assistant, full time student

The first week that I had to juggle lectures and work shifts I spent so focused on getting to where I needed to be that, once I’d got there, I forgot to enjoy myself. Then, when I got back home I felt like I’d done everything I needed to do: I found food, cooked it, ate it, collapsed in bed and normally very quickly, fell asleep. Perhaps I did need sleep and perhaps I had done all I needed to do, but my first Sunday free of work or lectures was spent reminding myself what it was I wanted to do. I realised the bits of university life I loved and still love most are the night clubbing, book reading, essay writing (yes, even that), music studying, opera singing, film watching, friend seeing, takeaway eating bits. Even if it’d only been a week I realised I’d missed that.

So, at the risk of becoming very slightly sleep deprived, I rediscovered my evenings. Week two, I got back in from work or from lectures, ate food and then spent the evenings doing what ever it was I wanted to do. Whether that was to head to an awesome friend’s house and eat pizza, get distracted by social networks/YouTube videos and get some of my music essay written, head to a night club, or curl up in pyjamas with my head in a book to cover the history reading for my next seminar. Late nights and early mornings are just about manageable when I can guarantee myself a ridiculously long lay in on a Sunday morning.

The week just gone was the most hectic week so far. Right now I’m trying desperately not to wish the rest of the year away but very much looking forward to working my last shift Christmas eve.

I’m trying to stay positive, but this is more testing than I could have known. I feel like my heart never stops beating too fast and the butterflies are back with a vengeance and that maybe this job wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Powering through. Now the countdown to Christmas has begun I’ve a feeling things are going to get a little easier. I’m glad I’m making the time for the things I love at least. It’ll be worth it in the long run.