“Watch out for snakes” three people told me on the first day of my new job. “Be careful where you walk” okay, fair enough. “We think there’s a big tiger snake that lives underneath the building near the pathway” said a third person.
Okay, now, I was starting to get really nervous.
I thought at one stage I’d have to swap my sandals for gum boots.
I guess that’s the price you pay for working in one of Melbourne’s most beautiful recreation and riverside parks. At least that’s what I thought but it turns out there were much bigger vipers around.
At lunch time on 27 March, my first day of work, I remember stepping out for a walk into 32C humidity. It was a blustering hot day but within minutes the temperature plummeted.
Suddenly we were enveloped in what felt like a mini tornado. All around the trees swayed ferociously and we were stung by flying twigs, dust and leaves falling on us, forcing us to bolt back inside.
It was the quickest walk in history and was so intense that it felt like an act of God. We had literally walked into the eye of the storm.
I’m not superstitious but looking back I wonder, was it a sign of things to come?
Back in the office that afternoon, I immersed myself in learning new and complex computer systems.
That night, back home after heavy rain, I walked inside to a flooded laundry and a dirty runaway Harry that desperately needed a bath. I remember it all because I journalled about it.
That was day one in my new job!
Now, five weeks on, it turns out the big tiger snake was the least of my problems. It transpired that the manager (the one and only person I worked with) had unrealistically high expectations that I was never destined to meet.
I consider myself an optimistic and positive person, determined and capable and I was giving it my all, but sometimes our best simply isn’t enough, at least to some people.
My probation period was supposed to be three months but today I walked in and was told that “with two heavy months in front of us we don’t think you’re going to make it.”
Really? Whatever happened to giving someone a chance?
I calculated it and, with Easter and public holidays, I’ve worked there a total of just 18 days.
I remember when I found the job. It seemed tailor made for me. But sometimes if something appears too good to be true it is.
What I hadn’t countered on was the hard manner of my boss and her unrealistically high expectations that I would just “get it” with minimal training.
It was shattering and, as I sat in the office this morning while they told me “I would not make it,” all I could think of was, “but you’re not giving me a chance”. But they’d made up their minds.
I refuse to think of myself as a failure. However, it took every ounce of strength not to break down and cry while I was sitting in the office. All I could think was, “I have huge dental bills coming up, we have a big trip planned, this felt so right, this could have worked”. But I kept that all inside and I steeled myself.
I did give them my honest feedback though and I told them what I thought of their so called “training”. I walked out of there with my head held high.
I tell myself it’s their loss but, to be honest, it was like a kick in the guts and it hurt.
On the way home, feeling numb, I stopped at the shopping centre. I needed to be around people and sure enough, I discovered that when we’re open there’s no shortage of kindness around.
Three strangers in totally different scenarios, obviously sensing my low mood asked me how I was. And instead of saying “okay” I told them.
What a difference it makes when we open up, when people reach out to comfort us, when strangers understand, with words, a touch on the arm and expressions of hope.
Words like “something better is waiting for you”, “you’ll be okay”, “maybe you could look at doing something completely different” helped me realise this job isn’t the be all and end all. I will find something else.
At least now I don’t have to worry about those snakes!
We live and learn don’t we? Life is a continual journey of highs and lows, setbacks and successes. This job didn’t turn out as I’d have liked but I’m trusting that there’s a good reason why this happened.
I do believe that I’m stronger for this and that something better is waiting for me and that, perhaps, I’m right where I’m meant to be.
I read something by Susan Jeffers the other day that rang so true for me. In her book Embracing Uncertainty she says:
“Yes we all hope life gives us more good than bad. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But when we come to the realisation that we can make something good from the bad, we also come to the realisation that THERE REALLY IS NO BAD! Instead there is opportunity after opportunity to improve the quality of our inner lives by using all that life hands us to make us stronger and more loving people.”
So that’s what I’m doing … I’ll dust myself off and put myself out there again. When life knocks you down there’s only one way to go and that’s up.
Here’s wishing you strength and peace and more good than bad in life.
I like to think that through all our setbacks we learn and grow and ultimately become stronger and more resilient.
Trust, let go and know that, however we might not understand it, life’s all happening perfectly.