I have only had two jobs in my life – one in a fast food restaurant and one at a national newspaper.
Today I officially became redundant from the newspaper.
I spent a year doing NC Media – more of a farce than anything. I learned radio, television (video editing) and writing.
I then spent two years completing an HND in journalism. It was two year of ups and downs including a tutor who despised me and the fact that there’s a good chance the stress of your class resulted in one tutors early death.
Then there was university down in Sunderland – one year of pointless essay writing, where I think it would be safe to say I learned very little from what I already knew.
I graduated in June and by September, I had my first real job at a newspaper. Not just any newspaper, a massive national one, which despite a recent decline in sales, still commanded a level of respect.
I was there for just eight months – which admittedly was more than the six month contract I was originally offered.
Of course I had bad days – days where I was writing boring articles on topics I had very little interest in. Or days where I just wanted to stay in bed.
It wasn’t helped by my battle with depression and anxiety, which I was diagnosed with a mere three weeks before starting that job.
The tablets I was on left me in a constantly exhausted, zombie like state where my dreams were so vivid I could swear I had spent the night before acting them out.
Coupled with the constant anxiety that I wasn’t doing things right, and that various members of staff all despised me at different times, it resulted in three or four panic attacks in the toilets. Disappearing for 15 minutes at a time, I’m sure they imagined I had some severe bowl problems.
But I became better and slowly came off the tablets and work was good, it was fun and I found my rhythm and place at work.
And then one cold, wet Monday morning at work, redundancies were announced. And I just knew.
I was a temporary contract, expendable.
It was another three months of hushed discussions before I was asked into the office and told I wouldn’t be returning the following month.
I shrugged it off, downplayed my emotions to co-workers and assured them I was fine and that I was positive something would come up. I had a month after all.
But in truth, I was devastated.
In a way, I wondered if it was karma for felling so smug for getting an amazing job barely months out of university, when I knew so many peers hadn’t.
My last month was spent with varying emotions.
I feel sheer blinding panic at the prospect of being suddenly unemployed, a myriad of financial obligations already calculated on scraps of paper.
I despaired at the four page long application forms of jobs I knew I wouldn’t get.
And I mourned. I mourned for the loss of a job, and more than that, the loss of wonderful co-workers. Great people, whose sudden disappearance from my life I know I’d feel deeply.
Of course, this was mingled with moments of self pity, cries of why me.
When it came to my last day – today – I only knew one thing. I wanted to slip out of the office as unnoticed as possible, not exactly having a strong hold on my emotions the past few weeks, I didn’t want to risk it.
I made sure my desk was cleared out as much as possible the week before.
This morning I made my way into the office with steely resolve, which was cracked the moment I saw the card propped up on my desk. I couldn’t even read it at first, a lump already formed in my throat.
The day passed much quicker than any I can remember. Before I knew it, it was time to hand in my pass and say final goodbyes.
Quick hugs and words of encouragement were given before I left the office. I knew I was behaving rather stoically, but it was the only way I could keep myself together in that moment.
And before I knew it, it was over.
Eight months and my first professional job has come to an end. While I pray it won’t be my last, I leave this one feeling nothing but gratefulness tinged with sadness.
While I couldn’t have asked for better luck – walking into my first graduate job in that newspaper – the biggest bit of luck was the people I worked with.
Those who ungrudging gave me advice on how to be a better writer, whose lives I was blessed with getting to know. The wonderful writers who I watched in the office with awe. That is what I feel is the biggest loss today.
People really do make the place.