Last October I could no longer deny the truth: I was not happy. I woke up every morning to a feeling of absolute dread. The ensuing conversation I had with myself in my head as I went about my morning routine did nothing to appease that feeling. Nothing would dissuade the growing sadness and desperation from engulfing my body as I stepped onto the Dart to go to work. I always wondered whether it was visible to those around me on the carriage that I was carrying my fragile soul around chipped and marked with deep cracks that I feared would never be mended. Counting down the stations until Dun Laoghaire was a frantic fight against the inevitable. It was work that left me feeling painfully bored and utterly despondent about the future of Europe. Surely nobody’s job could be as bad as mine.
The day I handed in my notice I thought I would feel euphoric. Mostly what I felt was relieved. It was a deeply unhappy place, where no one could be accused of being content with life. I left in January 2013 to start a six month unpaid internship in a small publishing company. I had done the research, set up a profile on LinkedIn, stumbled into Twitter and contacted every single publishing company in Dublin. I was 32 and starting all over again.
I found myself in South Dublin in a publishing company that produced non-fiction titles that I had never heard of. I was thrown in at the deep end, checking epub files, creating typesetting specs, using the very intimidating Photoshop. I never realised how computer-illiterate I was until I was asked to use a computer. I once tried to insert labels into the back of the printer to the bewilderment of my colleague, and managed to pawn the mistake off on the printer for being too outdated. Three months in, there was near-revolution, and people started to quit. I was given responsibility for the publicity and marketing department, I think because everyone else was busy. I didn’t know the first thing about publicity. I had just mastered Twitter, kind of. I was still working for no pay, but now I was expected to put together publicity campaigns and line up interviews for the authors on local radio. I don’t think I had any major successes in this area; it’s not so surprising to think that groping around in the dark won’t get you to your desired destination. As with all internships, I carried out some pretty mundane tasks: photocopying, scanning, going to the post office. To this day I can pick up a package and guess the weight with surprising accuracy.
Just when I thought I would uncover some great entry level job in publishing that existed only for me I found myself applying for and accepting a semi-paid internship at a larger company in August. Baffled about why I was still doing interning work I trudged into the building and up five flights of stairs on my first day to be met with the quietest office I have ever been in. The first week was slow. I was worried I would be bored. The first week passed and I figured out how blogs work to advertise books. I did not really figure out much more. Everyone was on holidays and I was trying to work out if ILoveEverythingAboutBooks was receiving review copies. Then week two came, to my relief. With this came the editors, managing director, administrative staff and a work load that would have easily kept two people busy. I was an intern who needed an assistant.
Not once during this tiring year did I think I had made the wrong choice. I worked for free for most of it, and had to work in the evenings and weekends to pay my rent and eat. Whilst trekking across Dublin in rain, hail and sometimes sunshine to get to classes I never questioned whether I was embarking on a fool’s errand. The feelings of dread were gone, to be replaced by nervousness, overwhelming stress, curiosity, triumph, and a pride in my work I never thought I would discover. It is incredible what happens when desperation and defeat take over. They can be two very productive sentiments.
I am now on the hunt for full-time, paid work in Dublin. But, isn’t everyone! As tough as this year has been, I have learned so much, met some wonderful people and according to the business experts on LinkedIn, made some very important contacts. Now, if only one of them would hire me. This has been my chaotic year, how was yours?