If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know how hard things have been for the last four months. Actually, probably more like four years, but let’s keep this in perspective and deal with the here and now. I would consider this week to be my rock bottom point. Everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong, including being locked out of my own blog. I got access again, obviously.
But this morning I woke up at 4am after a really weird dream, which I can’t even remember now. I got up, got a drink and then when I lay back down, I had a quote I heard years ago floating around my head.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” J. K. Rowling
It’s unlikely, although not impossible that I will ever reach her level of success. I wouldn’t say I’m a particular fan of her either but in amongst all the wizards and mythical creatures she comes up with some really deep and meaningful shit.
So, for no real reason, I decided that today I would go out and get myself a job. Paid or unpaid, it doesn’t matter. Once I finish writing, I’m going to put on a suit, straighten my hair and get some war paint make-up on and venture out. I’m going to convince someone I’m worth taking a chance on. And I’m not coming home until I do. It will be a fresh start.
Wish me luck! I’ll post an update on how it went tomorrow.
It’s almost a month since I turned thirty-eight. Having a summer birthday can be difficult, depending on your stage of life. When I was at school, and because I lived in a rural area, my birthday would always pass mostly unnoticed by my friends, who were on holidays. In the part of my life I refer to as my “freedom years” in my twenties, this wasn’t the case. There’s obviously no long summer break where people don’t see each other every day when you’re working in a nine-to-five job. Now that I am a full-time writer and work-at-home mother and my life has gone back to being on a school-type timetable, there is this feeling that everything stops during summer. And so my birthday has taken on that weird vibe again because it falls right in the middle of the no-man’s-land that is July.
This year, we had just returned from Spain. All my birthday presents were purchased at the duty free shops so I had received them already. I had some bad news in the morning and learnt that my second-cousin had passed away overnight at a young age, so the idea of celebrating anything seemed a little off. However, I did have a very pleasant day. I took a long walk in the morning and then sunbathed most of the day. Alex made a delicious lunch of salmon, asparagus, broccoli and cous cous (all my favourite foods) and in the evening I went to Nando’s with Alex and Luke. We played crazy golf afterwards and somehow Luke won. My little man certainly seems to have a natural ability for golf.
I set myself a list of goals for the coming year, just as I usually do on my birthday and as I have done every year since 2000 when I turned twenty. Last year, I did not achieve even one of my goals. This year, just one month in, I have already ticked two of them off the list. For the sake of accountability, I am listing them here. They really don’t have any relevance to anyone else. Although I try to provide value in my blogs these days, there is no value here for anyone but me. These are mostly writing and blogging career goals, mostly involving producing new work and reaching more people.
Goals To Reach Before 26th July 2019 (My 39th birthday)
Reach level 40 on Pokemon Go (this means walking a LOT)
I have already achieved two of these. On 6th August I felt the fear and did it anyway but tackling the big slide at Soar. This is a ceiling to floor helter-skelter type tube that costs £1 to use and shoots you down at a terrifying speed. I don’t know why I felt so afraid of doing this, but when I was helping Luke to use it I felt more than trepidation. It was the kind of fear that leave your muscles rigid and makes your pulse double in speed. That’s why I knew I had to do it. I don’t want to feel that kind of fear and as soon as you tackle it, you become a stronger person.
Then on 14th August I reached my Instagram goal. For those who say the number of followers you have don’t count, try having a large number of followers. Since I passed 1K I have been approached by a fashion brand who want to enter into a paid partnership with me and asked to participate in a BBC documentary. My blog’s hit counter has doubled and my if that continues I will start making money from it again. As for book sales, I’m not sure if it will affect those, but we’ll see. It’s worth a try.
I spent many years building a Twitter following and maintaining relationships I formed on that channel, but it never yielded the results that one week of a substantial following has provided. Some people say it’s vain to seek out followers, but they’re not selling books. Their livelihood doesn’t depend on it. Mine does. What I don’t want to do is forget about the readers I’ve already got so I am making an extra effort to keep in touch with them. Having a small following means a community organically emerges and I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of having a low following on platforms like Facebook.
Do you ever set goals on your birthdays? What traditions do you have?
This year, I am determined to get a new job. I have set myself a target of finding suitable employment by Easter, which seemed realistic and do-able, until this week. I went for my first job interview in a number of years. Over the last ten years, I’ve only been for two, including the one this week but in the course of my working life there have been plenty, both good and bad. While this week’s interview was by no means a disaster, it did inspire me to share some of my horrendous interviews so you can learn from my experience, and hopefully laugh at yourself the way I can now laugh at some of these.
Don’t stare at the interviewer’s distinguishing facial features
My first ever job interview was at the local Gala Bingo in 1998. The man interviewing me had three eyebrows. I kid you not. He had the normal two and then another separate from them right in the middle of his forehead. I spent far too long looking at it and wondering if it was a hairy bindi, some kind of piercing or if he was just unfortunate enough to have been born with three eyebrows. I didn’t do well on the questions and then I got a letter the very next day telling me thanks but no thanks. I don’t blame them, to be honest.
Don’t leave your handbag open
My last long-term job was at a firm of solicitors. At my interview I somehow left my handbag open, dropped it and out popped my feminine hygiene products, in full view of everyone in the very busy reception area. The male junior turned around, looked and then looked away. He probably doesn’t even remember that but I’m still cringing so hard.
Don’t put up with too many personal questions
I used to work at an office that won the prestigious Law Firm Of The Year Award. So you would think it’s a great place to work, right? Wrong! During my interview at that delightful office, I was asked way too many personal questions. Do I smoke? Because he doesn’t employ smokers. Do I live with my parents? I did at that point. Good, he liked that. Do I have any ambitions? Because he doesn’t hire people who aren’t ambitious. Do I have a boyfriend? I did. What does he do for a living? What do my parents do for a living? What do my siblings do for a living? STOP! That should have been a red flag right there and I ignored it. If people do this at your interview, they will continue to do it while you’re working there and unless you like people watching your every damn move, it’s not going to go well. I left four years down the line because when I had a UTI, he started making a note of how many times I visited the toilet and for how long and criticised my mannerisms when I eat, amongst other things. Don’t be afraid to walk out of an interview if this happens.
Don’t get honesty tourettes
While it’s never a good idea to lie during an interview, there is such a thing as too much truth. I have this strange condition which I like to call Honesty Tourettes. Sometimes I say something thinking it’ll be acceptable and only realise when I see the look of horror on someone else’s face that I thought wrong. Like the time that I went to a law firm for an interview and the woman asked me about my hobbies. I proceeded to tell her all about my creative writing and how I used to staple little sheets of paper together with Care Bear stationery when I was 7. I then went on to tell her about a minor car accident that had been my wake up call and I had to start dedicating my life to writing. I might as well have told her my dog sings Bohemian Rhapsody because she looked at me like I was that weird. Nobody else would have this problem because they’d just say they like cake decorating or something like that.
Don’t turn up to someone else’s interview
This sounds like a pretty basic thing but seriously, I think I may have done it. I was at an interview in an estate agency firm back in 2007. There was something amiss from the start but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There were two interviewers, one male and one female and the female initially called me Carol-Ann. I stumbled my way through correcting her (I think I may even have apologised for her mistake?) and then she nodded, checked her notes and started the interview. She didn’t seem to know any of my work history, despite having my CV in front of her and calling me in for a meeting. Half way through, the male interviewer came in and shook my hand.
“Nice to meet you Carol-Ann,” he said.
“It’s Sharon, actually.”
“Sorry! Sharon-Ann,” he said.
“No, it’s just Sharon.”
“Well Carol, this job was actually for a junior position and you look a bit older but for the right person, who knows!”
It was then I started to think there may have been a mistake somewhere down the line and I had been called for someone else’s interview but I just carried on and when they were finished I thanked them for their time and got the hell out of there. I sometimes think about Carol-Ann and wonder if she got the job. And what her first day was like.
Do you have any disastrous job interview stories? Share them below!