Monday, February 19, 2007

Waiting for my line

I haven't been talking much lately about how the job search is going because, frankly, I'm not doing too much in that direction. That job that I said would be so great for me? I still haven't sent off my CV and in the meantime I have found two others that I should apply to. But I'm not, and so I have been spending a lot of time thinking about why that might me.

I can't decide what the big thing is holding me back. I think part of it is liking the laid back lifestyle that we have right now. There is no real stress for us in the mornings to get out of the house and in the evenings, we have a nice routine, with Ella in bed by 8:30 so that B gets to see her and we still get a nice evening alone. I don't know how much money it would take to make me feel like it was worth it to dash around the house in the morning getting Ella and myself ready and then rushing home again at night to pick her up from creche and get dinner ready, all the while trying to keep the house together, organize vacations (which can be a part-time job in and of itself quite honestly), and keep in contact with our friends and family. I know that really I thrive on chaos and love to organize my life into neat little 15 minute blocks of time. But then so many things in my life have changed that maybe this old habit has fallen by the wayside as well.

Maybe I'm just scared about failing. I've not really worked in an office for so long that I think deep down I am a bit freaked out over the idea of being up to it. I know you have to go into interviews and really brazen it out, confidence blazing, convincing them that you can do the job. That's how you get hired. I can go in and do that, but once they seem won over I am immediately gripped by the fear that I have gotten myself in over my head and I better do some serious back-peddling before they actually hire me for this job that I now know I really shouldn't be doing. One of the problems is that I am quite specialized in a field that doesn't have many specialists, so recruiters are thrilled to find me, for the most part. It doesn't take a lot to convince them that I can do the job, considering my age and my 'years' of experience (it doesn't really seem like very many to me). I feel much closer to a debutant than a seasoned expert.

Which leads us to the next possible issue. I like doing things well. Doesn't matter if it is a small inconsequential thing or a big thing. Its not competitive, its not to show off, and its not perfectionism. I just feel bad if I finish a job and think that I could have done it better. There is a good side to this, obviously, since it balances out the part of me that is incredibly lazy. But the down side is that generally I prefer to turn down a project if I don't think that I will be able to do it right, for whatever reason. I'm a bit too conscientious. I am beginning to think that for a lot of things, I put the bar quite high. Too high.

Going back to the lifestyle thing, B and I actually get along tons better since I have stopped working. Looking back on things, we used to live very separate lives. Our hours were so different that I wouldn't see him in the morning, and since he wasn't here when I would get done with work, I would make plans to out lots of times with friends. Then I would get home so late that it would be straight to bed, and again, we would hardly see each other. Then he would be at work all day Saturday and on Sunday too tired too move from the sofa, so its no wonder that we grew apart. The simple fact that we now have a baby would make it difficult to go back to a routine where we each kept to our own corner, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a bit difficult for us. I think that he really likes being the bread-winner, the Man of the House- even though I doubt that he would ever admit to that. Before, with separate bank accounts and the way we split the responsiblity for the bills, we were a bit more like roommates than a couple maybe. I think I am surprised at how much I actually like being taken care of by B. And I like seeing him enjoying taking care of me.

Something that I have noticed about myself over the last few years is the way I have a certain idea of "me" and how sometimes it is a million miles from the reality of "me". Its easy to see in other people- the way they try to live up to labels that they were given as kids and just won't shake off. The Fuck-up, the Party Girl, the Nerd. You want to grab them and shake them and tell them to look around. They can change any time they want, but its hard to change, isn't it? I find myself, on occasion, sort of talking to myself like, "OK- what would Nicole do in this situation?" as if I am some sort of character. But the place that I find myself in right now is so far from anything that I imagined that there is a bit of disconnect and I haven't quite found the way to settle the difference.

That takes a lot of thinking. A lot of quiet moments that I don't have but I hope to have while laying on the beach on holiday. Lately, I've been using my spare moments to imagine being happily back at work. I am a big believer in visualizing things- I almost always do an imaginary version of a conversation before I have to make stressful phone calls, for example. If I go through the motions often enough, I feel like I already know how things end (well) and I don't have to worry.

Right now, I don't think I quite know what my ending is, I haven't gotten my script.


Jennifer said...

I feel so much the same way! I am no longer the breadwinner, in fact, I make no contribution to the finances here, and I feel guilty about it! And I feel something is lacking because I don't have work to do. I have one of those type-A work ethics and that has been very hard to shake. Moving to France has been a huge adjustment, and more changes are on the way, I know. It's quite an adventure!

Anna said...

I have many of the same issues as you about work. I am currently not working and spend quite a lot of the time (a) feeling bored (b) wishing I had some money of my own to spend as I liked. But then I think about all the things I would have to forfeit if I got a job: a relaxed lifestyle with minimal stress, plenty of time with my daughter, the freedom to come and go on holiday several times a year, lots of time to look after my apartment and to cook. And I can't for the life of it think of any amount of money that I am reasonably likely to earn in Paris (and, like you, I am well qualified with a career track record here) that would be compensation for all the aggro. I suppose I would like to work about 1.5 days a week for a huge amount of money! No chance, unless I write a bestselling novel and the Brit-in-France thing has been done to death and no-one has anything interesting to say about it anymore. So I'm waiting until my little girl is in full time school, in September 2008, and will think again then.

Nicole said...

I think that this might some sort of mid-life crisis for women, except it happens around 30-35 when you are trying to figure out the balance in your life. You spend years figuring out what kind of career you want and trying to make it happen and then something like babies or a move forces you to reevaluate. It seems like I have dozens of girlfriends all going through this.
Anna, maybe instead of book about the expat experience you need to write about this?

afoos said...

I love only working 12 hours a week right now. THat will change next year when I am at school full time for education classes and student teaching, but then after that I'll only be working 18 hours a week at most.

As it is right now, I only go into work 2 days a week, sometimes 3 which leaves me 2-3 weekdays to get caught up on stuff at home, study, and be relaxed about life. I find it's the perfect balance between work and staying at home. During the 2 and a half month maternity leave, I often got aimless and bored and things paradoxically piled up. Now that I'm working some, I find that life is a little more on track.

Maybe you could try out some part time work? Or, what about what the french call 3/4 time work, having your Wednesdays off? It's not uncommon to find that type of employment as a mother of a small child.

Anna said...

Having just spent one week on holiday with my two stepsons, I am reminded just why I need to stay at home with my daughter. Both my stepsons have development issues linked directly to the fact that their mother does not spend enough time with them and that they spend most of their hours outside school with a moronic nounou and/or their fairly limited grandparents. So I feel reassured that I am making the right decision to spend my days developing my daughter.