Category: Welcome to The Real World

6 Ideas for Selfcare Sunday

So Selfcare Sunday is by no means a new idea however it is something new for me.

I usually wait until I am close to tears before I decide “That’s it. I need a break.”

By picking a specific day, I know I am going to actually make time for me and I swear it makes the work week easier. Here are 6 ideas on what you can do to carve out some time for yourself. Also side note- it might say Sunday but you can (and should) always make time for YOU!

  1. Enjoy a warm beverage- For me this is either hot chocolate or a second cup of tea/coffee. Nothing brings me more comfort than the feel of a warm mug in my hands. (Often I end up drinking lukewarm tea because I was too busy using the mug to warm my hands).
  2. Journalling- Get out all your thoughts before the week begins so you can start the new week clearheaded and free. Bonus points for writing out your to-do list for the week so when the morning rolls around, you know exactly what it is that you need to do.
  3. Coloring- Coloring is an excellent destresser and a great way to calm your mind.
  4. Have a spa day- Whether it’s just a face mask and moisturizer or a full-on facial, take the time to treat your skin. It’ll feel amazing AND your face will be glowing by the end.
  5. Go all out for breakfast- Treat Yo self. And your tummy. You deserve to be spoiled and what better way that to start your day and your week with a breakfast that you’ll love.
  6. Escape into a book or TV show- Now this is something you all know I love. Watch some Netflix or catch up on your reading. You can escape reality without even leaving your couch.

Do you participate in Selfcare Sundays? What are your Sunday selfcare tips? I’d love to know below.

Luck and Stuff

I hate talking about my job. Both on this blog and in real life. I know it sounds weird considering I spent months complaining about my lack of success at finding a position in my field. However everytime I’m asked about my job, I get a wide goofy smile on my face and I have to mentally slap myself (“You’re a professional! Act like it dammit”).

That being said there are several days when I can’t believe my luck at finally getting the job.

And that, my friends, is where the problem starts. I keep telling myself how lucky I was to get the marketing internship especially since our company hasn’t had any internal positions in the entire three years that I’ve been there.

While several marketing internships have administrative tasks only, I get to learn new things everyday while also actively learning about paid media.

So yes, in that case I was really lucky. And I really do appreciate it. Except I forgot a vital part of the story up until I overheard a conversation between my mum and aunt.

My aunt was telling my mother how excited she was for my new job and how I was “so lucky”. My mother agreed and then said I worked hard for it.

At this I was mildly confused. Sure I worked hard at my Customer Care job but it wasn’t a tough job. But then my mother continued, “She was always studying and doing things online. She really wanted that job.”

I felt like she was speaking about someone else. I had forgotten about that. I had spent early mornings, late nights, lunchbreaks at work and even a few leave days working on Digital Marketing courses and assignments. It seemed like in the few months that I had the job, I had forgotten what exactly it took to get me there. The months of saving to pay for those courses (my father had paid for my university degree and I wouldn’t let him pay for more studies since there was no guarantee it would pan out), the times with friends that I sacrificed and even the one week leave I took to ensure I had adequate time to complete assignments.

I felt proud of myself but also a bit disappointed. It wasn’t luck. I worked hard and the right opportunity presented itself to me.

I am still so grateful for my job but the one thing I’m taking out of that conversation between my aunt and mother is that no matter what studying further IS important. You never know when the right opportunity would come your way.

We Need to Talk About Toxic Work Environments

Why does no one talk about toxic work environments? We need to talk about the feeling of dread and despair in the bottom of your stomach when you realize it’s time to return to work.

That feeling of being so exhausted no matter how much sleep you try to get. Eight, nine, ten hours…it’s no use. You’re still drained. Emotionally, mentally, physically. Sleep. Diet. Exercise. Nothing seems to help.

You don’t have the energy to do anything but no matter how much you try to “rest”, your body is still exhausted. It’s like your body decided one day to just give up.

We need to talk about that feeling of walking on eggshells, of working constantly and hoping that nothing you do or say will get you in trouble. That feeling of being watched, that feeling that someone is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can pounce on you.

That feeling of hoping that with all the hours you put in, all the exhaustion you’re feeling, you DON’T make a mistake because if you do that could cost you your job.

We need to talk about watching our friends and colleagues being forced out of jobs and fired. That feeling of heartbreak for them and their families. And then wondering, is it better to be forced out? Is it better to be left without an income but with your mental health scarred but not totally damaged. No, not yet. Or is it better to have money and watch as your mental health declines and slowly by slowly you lose all sense of self?

That feeling of seeing friends leaving jobs they’ve held for years and years just because your job has turned toxic. That hurt in your heart knowing that it was not supposed to be like this. That something somewhere has gone terribly gone.

But you don’t know what the issue is or how to fix it. So you sit quietly and you drag yourself to work. You walk on your eggshells and you hope for the best. That something someday will change.

Welcome to The Real World 4: The Interview that Never Was

The 4th interview was for a Human Resources position at a call center. Apparently they some sort of database at the university and they had picked up my information from there. I don’t know how true that story was but it made absolutely no sense for them to call me.

I had completed a single Human Resources module. I was not qualified for the job. I knew it. And if they had read my CV, they should have known that as well.

The company’s offices were a mere five minutes away from my house. So I got dressed immediately and went in for an interview.

They had me fill out a form and asked me to wait. I agreed. I waited an hour. Then another. I watched as the receptionist called someone who they had previously offered a job to. They had found someone who was a better fit so they called him to let him know that he didn’t need to report to work the next Monday.

My heart fell for him. Imagine thinking you’re going to start a new job and all of a sudden you have to learn that “we’re found someone else, sorry.”

After three hours of waiting, I was finally shown to a room with a frenzied lady who was in the phone of a phone call.

She asked me a couple of quick questions about my background in Human Resources and looked surprised when I pointed out that I had just graduated. She was even more surprised when she learnt that I had no knowledge of Excel. Apparently they were unable to hire me but they would keep my curriculum vitae on file.

I was stunned. They had made me wait for THREE HOURS? For something that could have been confirmed by simply looking at my CV or via phone call.

The receptionist took down my details and my list of skills but I highly doubted they would call me again (I was right. They didn’t).

I went home incredibly annoyed and tired. I had missed my nap because of a job interview I didn’t even have.

Happy Two Year Work Anniversary

Today marks exactly two years since I started working in Customer Care. Fun fact, I will be moving to a different department soon and I absolutely CANNOT WAIT.

But what I want to talk about is my move to Customer Care two years ago. Basically my manager at the time had me assisting the Inbound Customer Care line and when an opening came up, I immediately asked to apply.

However originally when I started my career, there was nothing more terrifying to me than speaking to customers on the phone.

In fact that was the main reason why I didn’t want a job in the call center. But my manager who knew that I was scared of the phone pushed me and eventually it became one of my favorite things.

It may not be my dream job but when time comes for me to leave, I will definitely cry like a baby.

Moving to Customer Care was one of the best decisions in my life and so I leave you with this quote which should be words to live by:

25 Life Lessons I’ve Learnt in 25 Years

On the 1st of July 2020, I unfortunately turned 25. I saw it coming but it was still a shock. When I imagined 25, I saw my life in a completely different direction. Nonetheless here we are. The damage has been done. The 25 years may not be what I expected but it has been a great learning experience.

Here are 25 life lessons that I learnt:

1) DO NOT tie your identity to your job

2) Money is important but it is not the MOST important

3) Surround yourself with those that you love

4) Network. You never know where it may take you

5) Also- always try something new. You never know where that might take you

6) Always carry a spare tire in your car

7) Ensure you have savings- for a rainy day, for retirement. Just make sure you have money available.

8) No matter your best intentions, life rarely ever goes as planned

9) Do NOT make decisions when you are emotional (unless those decisions are food-related like what to buy to make yourself feel better)

10) Also, do not make purchasing decisions when you are emotional

11) Leave work at work. There’s a reason you have “working hours”. And leave the office on time

12) If it doesn’t affect your pay, don’t let it affect your day

13) No, you do not need more books (but buying a few more doesn’t hurt anyone)

14) You don’t go to the gym to go to the gym. You go to the gym for the feeling you get after the gym

15) Take time out for yourself no matter how busy life gets

16) Keep moving forward (thank you, Disney)

17) Tea is always a good idea. So is any warm beverage

18) Live within your means. Live below your means if possible. This is especially relevant in the Corona era

19) Time is the most valuable resource and it’s one you can never get back. Use it wisely

20) Stressing about something accomplishes nothing (though in my case, it keeps my brain occupied so I allow it within reason).

21) It is always a good idea to learn a new skill be it work-related or personal

22) Not everyone is going to like you. You are not R100. Some people don’t even like R100 (I am one of these people. R100 disappears too quickly. R1000 is a good amount).

24) A car is a deprecating asset (and a damn expensive one) so there’s no need to pay a ton of money on an expensive model especially if you don’t have that money.

25) Spend more on quality in the first place so you don’t end up having to pay more to replace something cheap (like when it comes to repairs for the above deprecating asset)

What lessons have you learnt in your time on Earth? I’d love to know below!

Learn to Give Yourself a Break

Back when I was a young, naïve college student I wrote a blog post about the importance of taking a mental health day. It’s funny because looking back, I was under the impression that all jobs allowed a mental health day. After all how could you be expected to function at a job if you’re not at your best? However, this is the real world and sometimes mental health days are just not an option.

Girl with headache
Real life depiction of the position I am in as I type this

A few days ago (a week to be accurate), I came home from work with a headache. This wasn’t unusual as I normally have headaches during the weekend (it’s my blog/study/writing time).

However by the time Monday rolled around, I didn’t feel any better. Plus I had my sinus acting up. By Wednesday, the pain was too bad and I eventually started crying before begging to be taken to the doctor.

I had a feeling I knew what the cause was but I hoped he could help. Nope. He decided it was a tension headache. From what little I knew, I knew tension headaches were stress-related. I didn’t know how not to stress. But I was in horrible pain and I was already behind on my studying.

I took medication and went to sleep, hoping to return to work on Thursday. No such luck. I woke up with an awful sore throat and my head still hurt. I dosed myself with large quantities of flu medication, home remedies and spent most of the day asleep. In fact I was only awake for 4 hours.

I felt horribly guilty and ashamed. I was behind on all of my work all because of a stupid headache.

I managed to rest enough that it was fine for me to return to work on Friday.

My head still occasionally hurts like hell but I’m trying to make a concentrated effort to remain calm and not stress (a difficult feat for someone with anxiety).

So the point of me sharing this story is simple. Learn to take a break. You don’t want your body deciding all of a sudden that it needs a break. Because trust me, your body will definitely pick the most inconvenient time possible/

5 Useful Skills You Pick Up as an English Major

English majors are always portrayed as struggling to find a job. While majoring in English may not be the best idea financially (especially in South Africa and especially now), there are some handy skills you pick up that you are able to make use of in any job.

Graduation
  1. Reading (and actually understanding what was read)- This sounds like something so simple but you would be surprised at how many people cannot read. It’s not that they never learnt or lack the ability. Their minds are incapable of reading and making sense of what it is. As someone who works in Customer Care, this drives me crazy and leads to lots of (unnecessary) back and forth emails. Another perk related to reading is that as an English major you probably developed the skill of speed-reading. Yay you!
  2. Research Skills- Always necessary in any field whether you’re looking for information that is academic in nature or even just information on basic skills such as Microsoft Office.
  3. Effective communication- As an English major, you learn how to communicate effectively via both verbal and written communication.
  4. Working with deadlines- Being an English major means learning how to manage large chunks of work in a short amount of time. Since graduating uni, I always say that deadlines are not a thing for me. It’s now a habit for me to get things done before deadlines.
  5. Understanding other’s point of view or opinion- As an English major you learn that 1) there is never one correct answer and 2) how to see things from other people’s point of view.

7 Life Lessons I Learnt from “The Bold Type”

I discovered “The Bold Type” during a tough time in my life. I had just screwed up an interview for a job that I knew would have been perfect for me and I was in desperate need of a pity party. Now, a year and three seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort for me. Whether it is personal or professional, there are tons of great life lessons I picked up from the show.

The Bold Type
  1. Stand up for what you believe in– Kat is one of the most outspoken females I have ever seen and does not shy away from confrontation. She is always comfortable expressing herself and her beliefs no matter what.

2. Failure is a thing. It happens. Move on– As a perfectionist, this really hit home. In life, people fail. It is just a part of life. Onwards and upwards. Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you can’t try again or there’s something else out there for you.

3. Find Yourself a Mentor– Watching the amazing Jacqueline Carlyle motivate and support the girls of “The Bold Type” has really made me appreciate the great female leaders in my life. I specify “great” and “female” because I have only just realized both how rare and amazing they are. Find yourself a kickass mentor who will help you to be your best self.

4. The Importance of a Support Group– Kat, Sutton and Jane support each other through everything (the girls even accompany Jane to a mammogram which is both over the top and against the rules). Get yourself friends that are there for you no matter what. Everything is a million times better with a great support group. Take it from me. 2019 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girls.

5. Do it if it scares you– My former manager is always saying that “nothing grows in comfort zones” and this is something I believe in 110%. If something scares you, you should seize the opportunity and do it. There is so much that you could learn and so much growth that you can experience.

6. It’s Okay to Be Undecided About Your Career– Over the course of 4 seasons, Sutton has gone from personal assistant to fashion assistant to aspiring designer to stylist. She admits that she is undecided but is also willing to try out new opportunities to see what suits her. As the girl who decided on her career path at 12 years old, I love this!

7. You have to start at the bottom– From season 1, I loved that the girls knew where they wanted to be and they were on the way there. However the flashback episode in season 3 showed us that Jane started as an intern, Sutton was a temp and Kat worked for someone who had no clue how to make hits on social media. I loved taking this look back and seeing where the girls started. This was a great reminder that everyone- even in glamorous TV shows- starts at the bottom.

Do you watch “The Bold Type?” What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt? Let me know below.

Welcome to the Real World 2: The Weakest Link

In December 2016, I found a job teaching English online to Chinese students. I applied and waited impatiently for a response. I was convinced that this was it for me. The perfect job. I had the degree. I was a writer. There was no better job.

I made it through two series of interviews without any problem. The interviewer was impressed at my background with Media and writing as well as the fact that I had driven to the office the day before to ensure I didn’t have any issues finding the place.

Unfortunately when it came time for training, the interviewer (aka the manager of the teaching center) was NOT who I needed to impress.

The day after my interview was over, I received an email with a list of items I needed to purchase because the business had a dress code. So I headed to the nearest mall and purchased formal-wear in blue, black and white (colours that the business required).

Excited about my new job, I chatted to the sales lady who seemed to share my enthusiasm especially about the fact that this was not a call center job. I confided in her that I had been so worried that I would end up in a call center because it was so tough to find jobs.

Now remember, at this stage I had only been out of college for one month but sure, I was young and naive. I didn’t know much.

I turned up to training, uncomfortable in my formal clothing and slightly nauseous. I hadn’t slept the night before and was exhausted.

And that was when I met her. The head trainer was a no-nonsense (and possibly no patience) woman. She was tough and demanding and assured us that not all of us would make it through training let alone the second day.

I was scared but I still felt pretty confident. Hello, girl with years of writing experience? English was practically the only talent I had.

But as they laid down rules after rules, I started to have doubts. I was about an hour into training when I phoned my mother in tears. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure.

Let me go over some of the rules for you: 1) You must use make-up (understandable as you’re on camera), 2) you have to use the colours required by the business, 3) you absolutely cannot take toilet breaks until it’s your designated time and 4) you cannot tell the students “no” or that they’re incorrect.

This last thing drove me crazy. When we practiced our lessons, I was marked down for things I did wrong but never given any guidance on what I could have done right. It was just “don’t do this, don’t do that”.

Looking back it was clear from the get-go that the trainers didn’t like me. It sounds petty but I remember the trainer asking me what did it mean if a girl had her a good head on her shoulders and then shouting the question back at me when I was unable to articulate my answer properly to her.

At the end of the day, they called me into the office and told me that they didn’t think the job was for me. I was too quiet, too much of an introvert. They told me to go try something else and I could come back when I had more work experience.

I was emotional. I teared up. I asked them if they needed me to complete the rest of the training (there was an hour left) or if I should leave immediately.

They assured me I could leave immediately. I thanked them for their time, said goodbye to the other trainees (who didn’t believe that I was leaving and thought I was joking), cried a bit in my car and drove myself home.

I was sad that I didn’t fit in but I knew if I had, it would have been a disaster. From what little I did see from the work environment, it looked awful.

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