Why Doing What You Love is Never as Simple as it Sounds

“Just do what you love.”

I get this advice a lot. Being underemployed means I spend a lot of my time searching the internet for full time work. I’ve applied for a tonne in the last couple of months, had one interview for a job (which I was told yesterday I did get), a handful of rejection emails and a whole lot of silence. I’ve applied for anything and everything that doesn’t require a formal qualification (there are a lot of jobs for health professionals, accountants and lawyers in my area currently). And all people keep telling me is “just do what you love”, as if that in itself is easy.

Firstly, the things I love to do are hardly marketable. Sure, I enjoy writing and sewing, but the brutal truth is that I am not good enough at either of those things to make a living from them. And secondly, I don’t know what I’m really passionate about, enough to want to do it for a job. I’ve long since resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a job I love, but at this point I’d settle for a job that pays enough to survive on.

Some people love their jobs. I have friends that studied and are now working their dream jobs. J know people who got a job that turned out to be exactly what they wanted. And some people are just plain positive all the time, and would be happy working any job at all. Me, I would love to own a book shop. I would love to be a musician, playing in small venues to chill crowds all singing along. I would love to write books, or be a travel writer, or just get paid to travel. I would love to review films for a living, or hell, even star in films. And I’ve always kind of wanted to be a mortician. There’s a lot I would love to do, and a lot of reasons why I never could.

I know I’ve said this before, but I envy those who know what they want. And envy even more those who know what they want, and love it. I wish I loved my job, but the reality is that going to work makes me miserable. And since doing what I love isn’t going to make me enough money to live on, at least any point in the near future, I have to settle for any job that will actually employ me. So wish me luck, guys. And I hope the employment gods are listening, because a particular little misanthrope down here is starting to get desperate.


Common Things I Hear as a Shoe Repairer

I’m currently back working as a shoe repairer. Also a watch repairer, and a qualified engraver. And since I’ve been back, I’ve begun to hear again, all the things customers tend to say when they approach my counter. Some irritating, some funny, and some that leave me speechless for one reason or another.

“Do you repair shoes here?”
No, that wall of shoes behind me, and the giant sign out front advertising that we do, in fact, repair shoes, is all just there to trick you. This question always gets me, because its akin to walking into a coffee shop, and asking the barista if they serve coffee.

“Are you going to do a good job?”
Firstly, yes. Secondly, I’m very good at my job, and I take pride in my work, so to reiterate my first point…yes. This is one of the more regular questions I get. For some reason, when handing shoes over, people get paranoid that their items will come back in a worse shape than when they dropped them in. But the whole point of my job is literally to do the exact opposite; I’m a repairer, not a destroyer.

“But I only need one heel.”
This question often arises because people think it will be cheaper to only replace one of a pair. Whilst often one heel is actually more worn than the other, I have to repair them by the pair to make sure they’re an even height.

“Can’t you fit my shoes in? (I’m only here for the day)”
Sure. If you wanna call the ten people who brought in shoes ahead of you, and explain to each of them why you deserve preferential treatment, I will happily do your huge, time consuming job today. My biggest frustration with this question, is the sense of entitlement some people have. I don’t mind fitting in smaller jobs here and there, in between doing other shoes (while I wait for the glue to heat for example), but so often people come up, and as a result of their own poor time management, can’t wait around. They then get mad at me, because I genuinely don’t have time to do the work they require in the timeframes they demand.

“You’re a girl”
Yes. Yes I am. I generally get this from middle aged men, who still live in a time when women were deemed incapable of doing anything. I had a customer the other day who I assume meant to say this very thing, but fumbled his words and instead, ended up asking me if I was a girl.

“Do you actually work here?”
Yup. Hence the uniform. And…y’know, the whole standing behind the counter thing. This is a combination of asking if I repair shoes, and commenting that I’m a girl. Implied in the question is that I can’t possibly be employed as a repairer, and that I must simply be here to serve customers.

But don’t you need a man to supervise you?”
Well, now that you mention it…no. I have nearly three years experience, and managed various stores in the city, so I’m fully qualified and perfectly capable. Further examples of people not acknowledging my skill, on the basis that I don’t have a penis.

“Did it take a lot of training?”
People are always fascinated by how one gets into a job like mine, and because of the skills involved, are equally curious about the training it took to get to where I am. With the company I work for, it was mostly on the job stuff, with an assessment at three and twelve months respectively.

“That’s very expensive. Can’t you make it cheaper?”
This, I imagine, is common of many retail stores. Most of what we do has set pricing, standard across all stores. It takes into account time required, materials, and skills involved. There are always special circumstances and exceptions, but it’s not a regular occurrence.

But that’s not what the other girl said”
I’m sorry to tell you, but I am the other (and only) girl. And FYI there is no way I would ever say that the $80 repair job you have can be done for $15. This is another one particularly common in retail. Customers assume that a) you don’t communicate with your work mates and b) that you’ll take them on face value. In some cases, I concede that one customer may be given conflicting information by two staff members, but more often than not in my experience, it’s just a case of the customers thinking were dumb. We’re not dumb.

Do you know where the toilets are?”
This one comes up a lot, because I work in an open kiosk, in a busy shopping centre, and I guess I’m an easy point of access for questions unrelated to my job. Though sometimes, I can’t help but have a little chuckle to myself when they ask where the supermarket is, because my shop is literally right out the front of the supermarket.

I could honestly write a book about all the strange things I hear at my job. But for now, I’ll leave you with just a blog post!

Never my Type

I got asked out for dinner the other day.

A guy approached the shop, and made casual small talk. He asked about what I do, the hours my shop is open, commented that he liked my lip piercing. Nothing all that different from conversations I have every day. He walked away, after asking my name and giving his own.

Perhaps ten minutes later, he came back. He asked a few more questions, including what I do with my spare time. He suggested that, if I don’t do anything, perhaps he and I should hang out. I was saved from answering by a customer approaching the counter. The guy with all the questions once again walked away.

Another couple of minutes went by, and Question Guy returned once more. He finally said what I (finally) deduced he had been edging towards from the moment he first approached the shop; he asked if I would have dinner with him.

Now, first thing I should point out is that I am unused to being flirted with, and so didn’t really pick up on it until the second time he came to the counter. And second thing is that,in my perpetual social awkwardness, it didn’t occur to me until far too late to tell him that I’m not typically attracted to men. By the time I thought to mention it, it would have sounded to anyone’s ears very much like a bad excuse.

Suffice to say, I politely declined. He asked again, and I declined again, ever so slightly less politely. He was not rude, he was not creepy. In fact, he was certainly nice enough, but nice only goes so far when persistence becomes uncomfortable. He kept telling me I ought to give him a chance. I kept telling him no. Finally he conceded, and wrote his number down in case I changed my mind. (Spoiler; I didn’t) It was an awkward five minutes, and I was happy to see him walk away.

I called my best friend immediately after because I had to tell her all about it. She found the whole thing, and my social incompetence, highly amusing, and suggested that being asked out by a seemingly nice guy would be a dream for a straight girl. The problem being that his efforts were entirely wasted on a raging homo like me. I’ve had the odd spot of male attention in my years, but never once have I been approached by a pretty girl and asked out for coffee, or dinner, or something. Go figure.

In all fairness, it takes a bold person to approach a stranger and asked them out. But next time, if I’m gonna be flirted with, I wouldn’t mind if it was someone…y’know, more my type.

Introducing Amy.

Good morning, folks. I would like to introduce myself. For many of you, you may have been around long enough to have read my last ‘about me’ post, but I feel that it’s worthwhile to periodically reintroduced myself, so that people who may have forgotten, and any new followers, can get to know a little about the person behind the keyboard.

My name is Amy. I am 25 years old, and I live in sunny Australia – though you wouldn’t know it if you saw my pale complexion! I am not especially remarkable. The kind of person you wouldn’t pick out in a crowd, to be honest. Slightly below average height, a little chubby, brunette, bespectacled and with a killer resting bitch face, or so I’ve been told. I am the second oldest of four (older sister and two younger brothers), I’m addicted to peanut butter chocolate, I’m single, and I can’t wait to get a puppy. I think marriage is weird, and I never want kids. If my domain name didn’t give me away, I’m not a big fan of people in general. Bill Hicks said it best when he said we’re a virus with shoes. The man was a flippin’ genius.

I have an eclectic taste in music, but often leaning more towards the alternative and Metal side of things. I love horror films, and will happily sit and watch ten episodes of Law and Order: SVU in a row, but my favourite movie is Ten Inch Hero (it’s not what it sounds like, I promise!). When it comes to books, oh anything and everything; but my favourite authors are Chuck Palahniuk, Gillian Flynn, Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman, with a special spot reserved for Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series.

I am a self taught sewist (not technically a word but I roll with it), I own four instruments that I still can’t play, I used to fancy myself a writer but these days I think I’ll stick to blogger, because to be honest, I haven’t written anything else decent in…well, longer than I can recall. I am a terrible cook, but not a bad baker. I love a good green tea, but I can’t stand the taste of coffee. I used to be scared of spiders, but I grew out of it. My favourite colour is red, but I rarely wear anything but black. And I have absolutely no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Sooo, that’s me. I’m really interested to hear from you guys, so shoot me a comment and let me know a little bit about you!

Hello Mediocrity, my Old Friend…

I am having some kind of keep-me-up-awake-at-night existential crisis/drama, and I’m having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that I am exactly where I was 12 months ago. See, 12 months ago, I left my job as a shoe repairer/watch repairer/engraver in the city, to work in a call centre back home. About four months ago, I got out of that call centre and found work in another one, working as an Ambulance call taker in a different town. It was a great job; it was fascinating, and challenging, and incredible. The six people I trained with are amongst the most amazing people I have ever met. And then I failed my assessment. And I failed it again. And I tried really hard. And then I didn’t have a job anymore, and so my buddy and former employer hired me back two days a week to get me by until I find another full time job in the town I now call home. So, when I say I am back where I was 12 months ago, I mean I am literally where I was 12 months ago.

The sounds of screaming children in the playground beside my work kiosk are slowly edging me towards a homicidal massacre. The same calibre of customers I thought I was rid of are slowly draining my will to live, and to hold back the seething anger I feel every time a late middle aged man makes a joke about how I need a man to supervise me. Because I’m a woman, and very clearly we are incapable of doing anything without male supervision. (insert withering sarcasm here) And I have spent the last few weeks applying for mediocre jobs, because that’s all someone without any official qualifications is eligible to apply for. I mean, honestly, some of the requirements for job applications these days are bordering on unattainable. “To be eligible for this position, you must have several university degrees, nineteen thousand years experience in a similar role, the ability to fly a dragon single handed, and no problem doing the work of three people for $12 per hour.” Ok, so that might be a little dramatic, but the job market is disheartening, to say the least.

I think about the future, and what I think I might like to do, and come up with nothing. I am miserable in the present, and the notion of the future makes me even more so. I envy those people who have their lives all sorted out, because I am floundering in mediocrity here, and I’m not sure how much longer I can stand it. After a long string of failures and disappointments, I’m trying to think of things worth sticking around for, and coming up short.

Someone bring me some chocolate and a puppy, please?

Quick DIY for the Home

So, my new house has quite a bit of space, and I have many plans on how to fill that space. Of course, most things must now go on the back burner until I find a new full time job (different story for a different time), but in the meantime there are a few little things I’ve done to make the house feel more like my own home.

I get antsy without a project. I’m midway through a dress at the moment, but after the first fitting it was too big, and then some life stuff happened, and getting out of bed has been really hard lately, and so all motivation to finish it went out the window. But I digress. Because of all this, I haven’t done anything creative for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday my creative urge came back with a vengeance.

I have this old, tired corkboard/whiteboard in my bedroom that I’ve literally had for years. And yesterday I decided it was time for an upgrade, to a fresh new message board. So, I got myself a new corkboard and a frame, and set about my quick afternoon project. It’s really quite simple, and no sewing required. First, I removed the original aluminium frame from the board. I cut it to size, to make sure it would fit within the frame. I then cut a piece of fabric the same size, plus a little extra on each side to wrap around the board. Once in place, I used a hot glue gun to secure the fabric, set it inside the frame, replaced the backboard and screwed it all in place. The end result is a suave new board to hang on my wall!

The other simple DIY from a few weeks back, was a quick sewing project. Basically, I have a tendency to hoard fabric scraps. Mostly because I convince myself I’ll find a use for even the smallest bit of discarded fabric. Often times, that’s not the case, and my collection of scraps was getting out of hand. So, I decided to make a door snake. I measured the width of the bottom of the door, and then I cut a rectangle length of fabric to match (adding a little extra for seam allowance). Using just a simple straight stitch, I folded the fabric in half, right sides together, and ran a single line of stitching along the raw edge at the bottom, and along the long side, leaving one side open. I turned it inside out, and stuffed it with pieces of scrap fabric until the snake was full. Then I turned the edges on the open side in to hide to raw edge, and sewed the opening closed. Simple, quick, and a good use of discarded fabric! Winning all round!

Anyway. My next project will be a curtain for the toilet window (there’s construction going on behind my house, and the last thing I need is a tradie walking past when I need to pee!), and after that…well, like I said, I have a lot of space to fill!

The Altered Reality of Hospitals

Hospital waiting rooms are like small universes of their own. Everything seems slightly removed from reality, like the real world is there, just slightly beyond the veil. When you look around, there are people being supported and comforted by their loved ones. Each all in the same situation, each suspended in an endless moment, each waiting for something to happen. It’s a strange thing, sitting in a waiting room alone, surrounded by groups of strangers. When you spend so long doing things on your own, you sometimes forget that not everyone works by the same solitary rules.

When people get fired from their jobs, they take ‘support people’. When people go into hospital for admission, they bring along someone to be there for them. When people travel, the go in groups, or with friends. But not all people.

Humans are companionable by nature. There is an inherent, unexplained need in us to be with others; to interact, to seek comfort, to feel less alone. But being alone can become a way of life, so ingrained that it becomes almost impossible to comprehend the idea of other people coming into that singular, solitary circle. Sometimes, asking for help is too hard, because you become so used to relying on yourself, that you forget to trust others. Sometimes, you consider trying to break that habit but you get too scared, and really, isn’t everything easier on your own anyway? And sometimes, you end up crying silently in a hospital bed, because you realise that it’s not always easier, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Hospitals are weird, man. It’s that whole altered reality thing that brings secret things into sharp, scary focus. Or maybe it’s all that too bright lighting, and clinical atmosphere that changes things. There’s the lost time, when you’re present in body, but not in mind, and you’re poked and prodded and exposed to strangers in lab coats. There’s the knowledge that hospitals are a place you go to be healed in some way, but the fact that the healing is a by product of the pain that gets inflicted to treat The Thing you’re there for. Whatever it is, there’s something about those places that just creeps me out. And it’s one of the few times when doing things on your own can be the greater of two evils.