Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Light dawns




Earlier this week I handed in my resignation, and my manager gave me her full support. My colleagues and HR congratulated me on the new job offer but expressed their sadness that I was leaving, and promised to stay in touch. Had I found a more suitable job role within the company, I would have stayed for the people and the amazing work environment, but I had to take the risk and move on to grow professionally. 

The light mood of change and fresh starts I was experiencing was brought down today when the new company ran into a few issues with my labor card. My HR had reassured me that the issues were minor and conquerable, but the new company panicked that I could risk losing both my old and new job if my labor card gets rejected by the local authorities. 

In the middle of this turmoil, so many realizations crystallized for me. I had been working in this job for over a year, making huge strides and contributions until I hit a plateau of routine and repetitive tasks in the last couple of months. Because of this I made the effort to look for new opportunities in my adopted Arab gulf country of 10 years because I know it better than my native birth-town of Iowa, USA, or my Malaysian childhood motherland. I've been an expat for the most part of my life, but I had gotten by and met a man and made plans. We've been so careful, mindful of expenses and budgets, respectful of our duties and work commitments. And while at first we were happy about the new job offer, this minor bump in the road is another reminder that life, in her own amusing way, enjoys throwing you a curveball once in a while to keep you on your toes. 

So it boils down to this: I will know in a month whether I will have a new amazing job, or if I will be unemployed again (naturally). 

Unemployment used to be the bane of my existence. It's all too fresh still, the experience of being desperate and looking, waking up at 5pm and spending the whole evening applying and searching until I passed out exhausted at 6am just as the sun came up. The nerve-wracking interviews, the pleading voice in my head that hoped for when I can stop the weird odd-jobs and start a proper job in a proper office with a proper boss soon was around corner. I did a few conferences here and there; I did a short stint at the United Nations; I handed out promotional fliers for Pif-Paf in a T-shirt with a cockroach decal; I babysat 4 girls between 4years to 17years for a full week alone (and survived). I even fed and cleaned up after a pair of exotic parrots who made it a habit to go on the spot I've just cleaned. I did whatever it took to get by, so when my first full-time job came I took it gratefully and threw myself into it. I was lucky that my first "proper" job was with a start-up company that crafted its goals and values around employee satisfaction and development. 

Looking back at that struggling proletariat that I used to be (chopping frozen whole chicken and ripping out the spine), I know I took a lot out of that experience. I wouldn't be as grateful or cautious today if I hadn't had those trials. And now, with the possibility of returning to those dark days, I am ready. I guess I've been working my whole life to never end up like that, so even though I might possibly find myself unemployed again, I'll have a few safety nets I crafted to land on first. 

The biggest lesson that I've taken out of the company that I'm about to leave is that you learn the most when you struggle the hardest. When there are no structures around you, you learn to make them; when your new colleague at your desk is the most annoying and obstructive individual in the world, you learn to have the patience and tolerance of a Buddhist, and the negotiation skills of an FBI. You learn and you succeed and you move on to bigger challenges. 

I'm ready world. Come at me.


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