So You Want to Be a Girlboss?

all photos by Rebecca Claire, libfemblog.com (CANON EOS 700D) // all rights reserved


University was the best three years of my life but I’m not afraid to say that doing my degree made me realise that I don’t want to be a journalist or a freelance writer. I need more structure and guidance than that sort of career could ever give me and I decided that writing would always be a hobby. I still haven’t set in stone my dream career but I know I need to do something where I’m helping people and where I’m engrossed in conversation all day long, too busy to realise that eight hours have passed.

I graduated with a 2:1 and went into a high-commission, high-pressure sales job and I was great at what I did but I found myself so so stressed out and overworked that I just couldn’t handle it any more. Although I’ll always miss those 4k pay slips, I never miss the genuine contemplation of stepping into traffic on my walk to work so I could break every bone in my body and get 3 months off.

Since then I’ve been contact centre based because surprise surprise as an avid writer/blogger/journo-grad I’m pretty decent at communicating with people and selling them stuff. The problem is that I’m kinda shit at doing the same thing over and over again. So when it comes to ticking every compliance box, I actually find it really bloody difficult.
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Three years on from graduation and I’ve now been at current workplace for a year. I kept telling myself I’d only be doing this role a few months because the progression opportunities here were so good but here I am doing the exact role I started in. Why? Because I am incapable of being a robot.

I did actually manage to progress within a few months and since October I have been in a coaching role which means giving 1-2-1 sessions to help new colleagues improve at their job steadily for their first few months in the business. I am actually really bloody good at coaching and feel fulfilled and happy in the role but I still have to do my old job for a couple of hours a day and those couple of hours a day have shat on my career plan.

I got too bad with my engagement and my ability to repeat the same task over and over and so I let my thirst for knowledge and progression and doing new things steer me into too many responsibilities. I was taking working lunch breaks, trying to multi-task and doing hours which tbreach my contract. Was I getting paid any more? Nope.

Firstly, I became lost in a sea of never ending scanning, admin and user guides. Secondly I lost all capabilities of being “compliant” at my CR role and last of all, work took over.

That’s when I realised that I need to do a job that is simple. I’ve been trying to simplify my life in other areas, why am I incapable of doing a job that requires me to turn up, help some peeps and then go home at 5.30pm and enjoy my actual life? I can’t remember what it feels like to come home and have more than a couple of hours before bed. I can’t remember what it’s like to be able to book a holiday from work without masses of complications or what it’s like knowing which shifts I’ll be working in a fortnight.

 

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It can be very very hard to stick at something that you’re good at when that thing doesn’t fulfil you, challenge you or offer you any variance. It’s all well and good picturing yourself coming into work, putting your head down and getting on with it, but in reality it can actually be really damn difficult.

And so I took a small but worthwhile leap. I did some research into internal roles and I put in an application for Claims First Responder and I only went and fucking got it. I figuratively cried about 3 times that morning and literally cried about 5 times the week before.

I knew I’d done pretty well because I’m normally a nervous wreck when I go for a job interview and this time I was confident and myself and actually wanted the job really badly. Saying that I still convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get the job in order to handle the possibility of disappointment. I even said to Ash when he told me he was sure I’d get the job that he’d feel like an idiot when I didn’t. Oh how naive I was.

My point is that sometimes it’s worth it to take a side step. To re-analyse the direction you’re heading in and evaluate what would actually make you happy at work. Everybody thinks that becoming a leader/manager/girlboss will make them happy but when they get there, is it all that? The answer can often be no.

In my workplace, I had a few jealous and petty people who tried to get in the way of my progression and decided to pick up every tiny thing I did and report it to a manager. One time I said that I didn’t like my old role on the phone with customers and it ended up getting back to the head of department. Another time I commented on a Facebook status about my hours at work taking the piss and it got sent on to a manager. There are always gonna be snakes in the grass but like Mean Girls taught us all “calling somebody else ugly doesn’t make you prettier” and trying to make someone else look bad doesn’t make you look good.

 

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We often value ourselves based on how hard we work and how quickly we achieve things but it’s often proven that slow and steady wins the race. Maybe I shouldn’t have jumped at the opportunity to take on extra responsibilities at work for no extra money. Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed myself to go the extra mile and instead focused on the very basics of doing my job right. You may have seen my New Years Resolutions a few weeks ago where I vowed to concentrate on doing the core parts of my job role properly, I just wish I had started doing that much sooner.

I am so glad I not only figured out that my job was wrong for me but also why. It involves doing the same thing over and over and over. I hate the repetition. I hate the customers. I feel like a robot and I feel like I cannot do it right. My new job involves communicating with customers and being the first person they speak to when making a claim, this could often be directly after a big accident so it offers a challenge too.

The pay is much better, the hours are a dream (hello 8 week rolling rota with only one weekend, no late shifts and actual lunch breaks) and I can forget about the million and one things I had to read back in Retail Operations.

So if you’re miserable at work, ask yourself why. Is it your work/life balance? Do you feel challenged? Are you doing too much work for how much you’re getting paid? Are you moving in the wrong direction? Because it’s better you realise now than when you’re fifteen years into your career, 4 promotions down the line and trapped in a 40k lifestyle where you’re totally bloody miserable.

 

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