Monday, April 21, 2014

A life update

It seems to have taken me an age to actually write this post, but I am pleased to say that I now have myself a job in Canberra, and am going to end the crazy commute to Sydney. I only just made it within the deadline I set myself last year, when, realising that the route I was taking to walk from work to Balmain was not going to be overly sensible in the dark, I said to my colleague, I have to have stopped this by the time daylight saving ends, and decided that was the time-frame I was giving myself. So, I had the new job before daylight saving ended, and I just had to work out my notice for a couple of weeks after it.

Strangely, the logistics of the Sydney commuting, rather than getting easier with time, were actually getting more and more complicated. First I was staying in a house in Balmain where I basically had my own room, and could leave belongings in it, and was going there with my work colleague in her car. But then the lady who owned the house got inspired and turned her house into an Air BnB, so I had to start carrying my sheets and towel etc backwards and forwards with me as other people used the room, then my colleague started staying with a friend where it was cheaper, so I needed to get to Balmain and back again with my stuff on my own, and then often the house was full of random BnB guests (eg the other week there was a lady and her son from London in the front bedroom, a guy I never actually set eyes on in the next room, me in the back room, a visiting Irish niece and boyfriend sleeping in the lounge room, and the lady who owned the house sleeping in the dining room – and one bathroom and me trying not to keep them all awake with that rotten cough I had), which, on one hand, was all part of the adventure and I have met some interesting people there, but on the another, after getting up at 5.30 am and travelling and going to work all day, it can be hard work having to meet and greet and share house with strangers. The whole thing was becoming a big effort, and because I didn’t have my car with me, and Balmain isn’t great for public transport, I wasn’t really making the most of the time in Sydney to do other things either, as that just involved more effort, and it was well and truly time to stop.

Some time ago I applied for three jobs in the space of a few days, the first of which was with a Christian organisation. I was offered an interview for this one. Maybe I shouldn’t write this on the internet, but after thinking about it, before the interview I had more or less decided that I wouldn’t be able to accept the job, if offered it, mainly because it was classified as “administration”, and so I knew the salary wouldn’t be grand (just because I know that award isn’t grand, not because I thought the organisation wouldn’t be paying what they should) and I thought it wouldn’t be heading in any direction I thought I ought to be going in (but I had applied for it because, while I know there are pros and cons to this too, I did like the idea of working for and with a Christian organisation again). But then I had the interview, which went for an hour, I really liked the people and felt like there was a good rapport with them, and I liked what they told me of the work, which included two days of one thing, two days of another thing, and the fifth day is a bit of a surprise till I begin, and I came away thinking I would actually really like the job. But then the next day, before I had heard anything from that position, I was invited for an interview for another one of the jobs I applied for, a rather more “advanced” position at the Australian National University, so of course I said I would go to that interview at that point. But then the day after that I was offered the first job, which I gladly accepted. Then I was in a conundrum about attending the second interview, which was over a week later, but decided I should go along anyway to see what happened, though was rather hoping I wouldn’t be put in the position of having to decide (as it would have been difficult to say no, in one respect, as the salary and conditions were so far beyond the other position). Well, after that interview I knew there wasn’t much danger of that, because that was one of those interviews where you just know it’s not going well, and while the position title had “editor” in it, it turns out it was more project management work, which is not altogether my cup of tea. I’d also found out in the interim that they had called someone else I know in for an interview, who didn’t actually apply for that position but had applied for a different one earlier at ANU, and knowing their experience I couldn’t see that I would outshine them in any way. But I actually think I was out with the first old chestnut of a question of “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”. I mean, what are you supposed to say? Are you supposed to look at the superior interviewing you and say “I’d like your job”? I don’t think I’ve ever had a satisfactory answer ready for that question. I feel like saying, I’m an INFJ, I don’t make five-year plans, and I’m not actually even interested in five-year plans ...

So, while I am excited about the position I have accepted (I’m one of those people who is still wary of putting where I go to work every day on the world-wide web, which is why I am not naming it, so you know), I admit to having had moments of panic about the “administration” thing, and what sort of trajectory I am putting myself on, plus the salary and the limitations that might come with it. It has sent me off philosophising about work, and what it’s for, and what should motivate one to do it. I actually went to Sydney for a conference, mainly featuring Kathy Keller, after accepting the job but before the second interview, and really appreciated the talk by Katherine Leary Alsdorf on Faith and Work, which I added into the pondering (and relevant blog posts kept strangely appearing while I was considering all this also). And I’ve realised that, being that INFJ personality, it inspires me in work if I both believe in the cause, and have good relationships with the people around me, which this new job holds some potential to fulfill. I was dissatisfied with the sense of working to make profits to fill the pockets of the shareholders in my previous work, and with how many steps there were between what I did and where that benefitted the human race in any way. So I’m looking forward to the new role. To deal with some of my concerns I’ve implemented a plan to keep doing some freelance editing from the company I now work for, on the products on I had responsibility for until my replacement is up to speed, and then with another section that has a more constant and voluminous supply of freelance work, both a) because it will be good to keep the skills up, and it’s always good to have something you can do from home and b) because it will also supplement the new income. I’m hoping it will all work out nicely.

And that is life from the last few weeks. I am pleased to have it all sorted, and to have come out the other end of my last week of work in Sydney. I’d been with that company for eight and a half years, so there was lots to sort out (and you should have seen my desk drawers – my goodness!) and farewells to be said. I don’t think you can ever really appreciate what it’s going to be like to not be going back to a place till you’re not going back to a place. I now start the new job on Tuesday. I would have liked to have a holiday in between, but I had to give four weeks’ notice to my old workplace, and they wanted me to start as soon as I could at the new, so I will plan a holiday for some other time, and it’s been great to have the Easter weekend in between.

I might find myself blogging more often again, though with doing the freelance work as well I will have to see how time plays out. These days I don’t set goals or make plans for blogging either ... :)


CharlieK said...

Hi Ali,

Was reflecting on life and read your post, when I should be writing an Essay :-(. Big changes indeed ! So I wasn't 100% sure, but you have accepted the Admin job with the Christian organisation ?

Also, the job is in Canberra, since you've moved on fully from Sydney ?

I wish you all the best. I hope your personality type can handle the new job, based on you expressing some concerns...

Meredith said...

Such a lovely post, and such great news. Congratulations. Such a very good post that instead of waxing lyrical here any further, I have written you a letter, which I will post tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow, I hope day one goes well. Will be keeping you in my prayers.

Ali said...

Hi Charlie,

Sorry, there wasn't meant to be any ambiguity about it. I have definitely accepted the job with the Christians, and it is most definitely in Canberra. And thank you for the best wishes. My concerns were primarily about doing "admin" and the whole career trajectory thing, not the job itself, so it should be fine.

And Meredith, how lovely, I shall very much look forward to the letter! Thank you, and thank you too as always for your prayers. In anticipation, Ali xo

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing your news and the process behind it. It must be such a relief not to be spreading life out so much. Also, glorious autumn leaves yay!

I think I'm an INFJ and I make 5 year plans. Because I like something to anticipate. Not so much in that job-interview sense about ambitions and stuff. More in the "in X years I shall do X lovely thing" and then enjoy waiting for it.

Karen said...

Congrats on the new position, Ali, hope that eliminating the Sydney commute helps you find time for more blog posts and for showing us those gorgeous photos of the four seasons in Canberra! x

Ali said...

Thanks Jess. Yes, I wonder whether my lack of planning is where I wander over into "P" territory. I could probably benefit from setting more goals for myself, but the idea makes my eyes glaze over. Anticipation is definitely a good thing though!

And thanks Karen. I am hoping I have more time for taking in the sorts of things that result in blog posts, but we shall see!