Working nine to five (thirty)

Because I couldn’t make a jam sandwich, let alone consider the hulking world of work, I briefly believed the comment made by a (probably well meaning, but excellently misinformed) fool that it would be, “silly to expect a return to full time work”.

That’s a shame, I thought. I’m fond of a tea round. I like a Christmas party. I’m partial to the bi-weekly slice of birthday Colin the Caterpillar. Sign me up for a brainstorm. Book me in for a HR meeting. Review away. I love it all. I’m fairly certain nothing equates the euphoria of the weekend alarm switch off, after five glorious armpit nestling commutes. In fact, if I thought about it for too long it didn’t feel a shame. It felt utterly bewildering.

But here’s the thing. I’ve just completed three solid months in a full time role.

I’m not saying that I haven’t wanted to weep nine times before nine AM on several days. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed hands once or twice rendered useless after particularly frivolous typing and I won’t deny that I’ve felt relief come Saturday morn and the realisation of two days of rest. (This is partially a lie. There have been absolutely jam packed weekends too). Some days I feel that I’m just about functioning, and others I’ve felt positively thriving. But all in all – I’m happy as proverbial Larry to be back in a swivelling chair.

Ironically, there have been days that I have felt acres more frustration than I ever did whilst recovering at home. (Likely due to now having 150 other humans to compare against, rather than two dogs. One of which is likely deaf and has a severe limp.) I’m annoyed that I’m not always showing the best of myself and my capabilities. This is when I’ve been grateful for a quick wise pal reminder that, despite appearances, rarely will everyone passing by my desk feel as chirpy as they outwardly seem. I’m likely not the only person in the office not feeling on dazzling form. Still though, I had my probation meeting two weeks ago, which was preceded by a sweaty night’s non-sleep as I rehearsed how best to graciously accept marching orders. (Thankfully my exit music didn’t have to be put into play.)

Things that have helped the work life adjust; reminding myself not to go hell for leather, prioritising spending on food that will fuel (as opposed to Zara), getting into bed before I’m fully burnt out (leaving a bit of fuel in the tank) and being really nice to pals so that they let me stay with them close to work, before finding a room of my own to rent* (that commute will really get you).

And the thing that has surprised me the most?

That the best thing about being back to work isn’t having to keep up the pretence of being a shift working policewoman in my local Sainsburys. (The checkout lady asking “no work today love?” for the fifth time in a row led to what seemed at the time to be a small, embarrassment saving embellishment on what was actually two years of unemployment). But is, in fact, feeling capable once more. Turning up to work each day – on my own two feet (or the one-time-only-four-uber-wheels when I was feeling very Beyonce) – is the hugest confidence boost of all time.

Tiny tasks once the source of despair – tying shoelaces, carrying a plate, answering the phone, climbing stairs, standing up from a seat, sitting down on a seat, moving the seat – I do a multitude of times a day without a second thought. If that sounds like a brag to anyone that can’t do those things, it isn’t meant to be. When I was told I wouldn’t get back to work, I started this blog. And through it I learnt about those that had; army officers, CEOs, travelling anthropologists, yoga hunnies and sponsored athletes. All terribly unwell, and then terribly successful. Not just coping, but at the top of their game. (And often hunky as hell, with professions reliant on peak physical fitness.) Having those examples stopped me sobbing into my porridge in front of Jeremy Kyle five mornings a week.

So if you’re feeling less than perky, I hope that you understand my well meaning gist. I’d neglected this blog for a little while, mostly because writing takes concentration (and recently that has been better spent on making sure I’m headed in the right tube direction), but also because I’ve been feeling a little guilty about how I have so far recovered, whilst others inexplicably are doing so at a much slower pace.

But, essentially, the point that I’m really making, is mostly to that excellently misinformed fool, whose high hospital tower office I will definitely not grace again…
I’m working full time sucker! Wonders will never cease.

*More of this another time. This blog provides all the thrills if nothing else.



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