Back to Work
Just like thousands of other people in my country, I lost my job to Covid way back in March, a week before St Patricks day. I had been on a 6 month contract, and I wasn’t due to leave for another month. As a marketer I had had a few ideas and even a few plans started for Paddys Day. I had a list of things my friends and I had wanted to do ourselves that day, and we were pretty excited for them. Through no fault of my work place, I lost my job. They had to make serious cut backs, and I was the obvious first choice.
I laughed ironically to myself as I walked towards my car that evening and drove out of the car park for the last time. All the jobs I had been interviewing for, I had been giving them a start date of a week after my finish up here, because I had realized in the four years since I had left college, I had never given myself a break. I had gone between three jobs, and one of them I had finished on a Wednesday and gone into the next job the next day. The previous one I had finished on a Thursday, worked my second job Friday through Sunday, and then started a fresh job on the Monday. I had wanted to take a break for once. And now here I was getting one, one that was going to be far longer than I had bargained for.
The first two weeks were definitely in my favour, all I did was sleep in, walk my dog with my friends, and apply for Covid payment. With the immediate worry of money out of the way, I let myself relax. I think two weeks is a perfect amount of time for someone to rest for. It’s enough time to unwind, but not enough time to get bored. Which is what we started to do. My two best friends and I were in very similar boats, but also very different ones; I had lost my job altogether, our youngest friend is a hard-working college student (we’ll refer to him as Roman from now on), who’s college is in another county, so he came home, mostly just doing his revision and exams. Our other friend (we’ll call him Oswald from here) was told to go home shortly after I was and he would be brought back in once the worst of this blew over. We didn’t really expect everything to carry on for months. After our two weeks of relaxing, I saw my friends and I wilt visibly, as more and more places closed down, we ran out of things to do, things to keep occupied. And I noticed my dark thoughts started to creep in, I started getting out of bed later and later, and I set myself less tasks to do for the day. My local shopping was the only thing I did to leave the house at one point, and there seemed no end to this torture.
My better half (let’s call him Newt now) had said that he would love to go to the zoo, and I tried to book him a ticket but they were full up until well after his birthday. It was while I was standing in a queue in a supermarket that I saw the most beautiful plushie giraffe that I bought on a whim, and decided that if I couldn’t bring Newt to the zoo for his birthday, that I would bring the zoo to him. I thought about this for a week before I finally sat down with my two best friends, Roman and Oswald, and we started to plan what will probably be the most elaborate birthday plan for someone else I will ever do. We had a month and a half until his birthday, only the two euro shops were open, and the odd craft shop. For that month and a half, we got up every day, made an elaborate breakfast, and worked solidly from around 10am until 4 or 5 pm. It was a scavenger hunt all around the areas we lived (within our 5km would you believe!) ending with a big surprise party with as many of his friends as we could bring in… all hosted outside of course. And for that month and a half, I was a project manager and leader, no idea was too crazy or too time consuming, and all of us involved had so much fun.
And then it ended. Roman went back to college, Newt had been working this whole time (as he would proudly announce every time he could work it into a sentence, he was an essential worker!), and I still couldn’t find work.
I stopped getting out of bed before 11, I was failing to find anything to do with my day. I would sit and watch drivel on my laptop, and feel awful at the end of the day because I would feel like I had achieved nothing. I was getting tired just sitting around, and when I did manage to get up, I would find myself crawling back into bed in the afternoon and taking naps. I wasn’t eating anything more than oven pizza and some fast food when I was bothered to go outside. There would often be long periods of time where I stopped bothering to even look for jobs because nothing new was going up, and even when it did and I did apply… I was getting no answers.
Somewhere along the line I started painting again, and I would try and persuade myself to get a painting out a day. But if I failed to do that I would come down on myself like a tonne of bricks because it’s not like I was doing anything else with my day. Then Newts sisters birthday was coming up and I wanted to get her something special. She is a huge Disney fan, so it was an obvious choice on what to get her… but she has everything Disney that I could think of. So I decided to make her Mickey Mouse out of socks, just like I used to make Sock Monkeys with my mum when I was in college and couldn’t afford fancy presents for any of my friends. So I made a hilarious looking Mickey Mouse. And suddenly all I wanted to do was make Sock Monkeys again. Socks counted as an essential item so I was able to pick them up easily enough to make as many as I wanted. After having made about 5 of them, I started up an Instagram account, and I was averaging 1 unique sock monkey a day. I was starting to feel good about myself again, I was leaving nice comments on other peoples sock monkey pages, and I was looking at their designs and getting ideas. People kept suggesting that I sell my monkeys, but I keep saying no, because while they look sweet and they’re very unique… my stitching isn’t quite good enough for me to sell.
And then came through an email that I had an interview for a Golf Club as a Marketer… just like I had been looking for. On the day I had that interview, I got another email for another interview for another place looking for a marketer. And then I got a phone call saying that the HSE had gotten to my application and they were looking to take me on as a contact tracer, and I agreed. I didn’t get the golf club job, but to go from no response to three in as many days, I was blown away.
I have yet to hear back from the second place about being a marketer, but currently I am half way through my training to become a Covid Contact Tracer. I had a meeting this morning at half 9, as they introduced us to all the systems they use and how they talk to people. I had a nightmare last night about not waking up for my meetings on time and just missing everything and how it was the end of the world. I find myself swinging wildly back and forth between “I’ve got this” and realizing my time isn’t as free to do what I want anymore. I have wanted a job for months, I have been dying for this, and now that it’s here, I’m terrified. What if I don’t know how to work anymore? What if my work ethic is just completely gone because I have been working off my own schedule for the last eight months and now I will be part of the work force again. I’m scared that my energy levels won’t live up to what they used to be, and I won’t handle anything well. And if I’m honest, I’m scared I won’t be able to produce as many monkeys as I have been for the last few weeks.
I have so many mixed emotions going back to work, and I know there have to be tonnes of other people out there who feel the same. I was told it would be a good idea to record how I feel each step of the way, as nothing like this has ever happened to me before and it would be good to have somewhere to put my feelings down. And if someone else finds this and relates to it, well then at least they know they’re not alone…