There’s a long answer and a short answer to this. Short answer: I wanted to. Long answer, see below.
If you know anything about A Levels and how they work, you might think it’s a stupid idea to get a job in May of Year 12. Frankly, you’d be correct, though my mother would disagree with you. In a misguided quest to teach me responsibility and workplace skills, she badgered me into doing some job-seeking. I applied for a few and failed to get any interviews, so I assumed she’d let me off because I’d tried and hey, I could do voluntary coaching and build up a career there!
Ultimately I was wrong. Mum and I had gone for an ice cream after a good walk, and woe betide, they were hiring. I agreed to go and ask for a form – I could always “forget” to fill it in on time after all – but within five minutes, someone had fetched the owner and suddenly I was being interviewed. In the middle of the parlour. In complete surprise. In my post-walk sweaty state. Boding well, of course. The interview was a catastrophe (school is not kidding when they insist you rehearse for interviews, being caught unprepared is torturous), but somehow I was accepted for a trial period.
Spoiler alert: I lasted five five-hour shifts. That’s literally it. They were spread over about a month, but that still doesn’t amount to a great deal.
Was it an awful job? No. Was it overly complicated? Not really (I was just a bit rubbish at it). My work consisted of serving ice cream, occasionally blundering over the till, clearing the tables and unloading the dishwasher – only ever unloading, I never got the hang of arranging all the stuff so it would close. I know what you’re thinking: clearly I’m the problem. And honestly? Yeah, you’re right. It wasn’t a horrible job, and it wasn’t impossible work. My anxiety wasn’t even too troublesome initially, to my shock. Nevertheless, it wasn’t right for me.
My first three shifts were quite quiet, and they were decent fun. I liked most of my co-workers, none of my bosses were mean, the shop wasn’t big enough for me to get lost in. It gave me a good opportunity to learn the ropes and the basics. However, this pleasantry did not last. The Isle of Man (where I live, obviously) hosts an annual festival called the TT – it’s a motorcycle event lasting two weeks, and it floods the island with excitement, noise and most importantly, tourists. Fantastic for our economy; atrocious if you work in any kind of retail.
As the influx of TT-goers began to pack the parlour, I quite rapidly understood what the actual job was: dashing around like a mad thing, weaving around the shop, and doing a million things at once correctly. Absolute admiration to anybody who can work in that environment successfully, because golly gosh I cannot. I knew I had to quit when I found myself hyperventilating by the storage freezers, trying to meditate myself away from a panic attack. I finished the shift, had a little cry at home, then quit the next day.
So is the moral of the story to just give up when you struggle? Of course not. Although, it’s not to never give up either. Truthfully, the aesop of this tale is that if you need to quit, it’s okay to do so. Maybe not for good, but just until you’re in a place to handle it.
My mental health has been in shambles this last few weeks. My next poem will give an insight into why, but as always, mental health is unpredictable; I’ve had a lot of unhelpful factors, and it’s culminated in a serious decline. I’m managing, but not completely. I needed to make room in my life and my brain, so I removed the job I knew I could. Like trimming a plant, pruning away the unnecessary leaves to help it grow. Sorry, I’m so tired, it’s been a long week and it still isn’t over.
To return to the point, I understand fully that for some people, axing your job isn’t an option for whatever reason. I don’t have to pay my own bills, and I have other avenues I can venture down that I’ll prefer. Not everybody is that lucky. However, I’m almost certain that there is something in your life you can afford to take a break from at least. It might only be a week or two, or it might be longer. The crucial thing to remember is that your mental state is more important than anything else, and you need to take that time to look after yourself and get back to your spirits. Also, it’s okay to do that. Cut yourself some slack 🙂
Wise words I once heard were “talk to yourself as you would a friend”. If you told a struggling friend off for attempting some self-care, you would not have that friend for long. In my case, I would never force a friend to keep a job that was adding stress they could opt out of, especially during an already-turbulent period. So make friends with yourself, because it’ll change your life in the long run. That’s something I’ve been working on this month.
I’ve done my infamous tangent-ing again, I apologise. But yes, I quit my job because it was the best decision I could make for myself and my mental health at that time, and that’s okay.
It’s always okay to look after yourself, as long as you’re not actively hurting anyone else.