Thursday, 22 January 2009

The fastest five years of my life

When I last lived in Paris, I was on my junior year abroad. I worked as an English language teacher at a French school, did some work experience at the British Embassy and tried to decide what career path I would follow. I was single, but in love with someone who didn't love me back, I didn't have enough of a backbone, I had lots of time to go to galleries and walk around, I was 20-21. I didn't realise it then, but I was so young.

How can five years have passed since then? It mystifies and scares me in equal measure. I feel like the same person in some ways, but I know I am different, that I have grown up. I graduated, studied law, have worked for nearly two years and will soon become a solicitor. I'm with a wonderful person, Marc. I have grown a bit more of a backbone. And yet time has passed so quickly, so incredibly quickly, and I hate it!

I think a lot of my friends feel the same way. I'm at the stage where I need to decide what I want to do with my career, with my life, and I am not sure that law is it. Or certainly not corporate law. I've seen the big deals and shiny conference rooms, big name clients etc. I've also seen the credit crunch, one of our biggest clients go bust, six months of not leaving the office before midnight. That is career-building experience, certainly, but it is not life enhancing. It's not what I want for my life or for my future family. I am quickly realising that it is not who I am. Oh, people told me before I went into it. But I wanted to do something practical, to have a profession. I also didn't want my degree to have meant nothing, to get a job that I could have got without it. I didn't want to earn peanuts. And I was told that law is supposedly 'transferable'. Transferable to what, exactly? I have no clue.

I did find an area of law that I truly loved: pensions law. But who knows if there will be a job for me in that department. So much is up in the air with this economy. Who am I, in times like these, in which those who have jobs should just count themselves lucky, to question my career? I find myself asking why I trained for so long only to leave. How much job satisfaction is enough?

I don't have answers to these questions, but I know that in 2009 I would like to find a semblance of an answer. I am someone who always looks and plans ahead and it's the first time I don't have a master plan. I need to learn to live with uncertainty whilst being proactive. A hard balance to strike, but a worthy challenge for 2009 and beyond.