I (perhaps rather stupidly depending on how you look at it) decided to get my education in reverse. I suppose circumstances dictated it. I left school having hated most of it and after several poorly paid but interesting jobs and two years at college acquiring one of the most useless qualifications in existence (a BTEC) I landed on my feet when I discovered I was a pretty good PA. I was happily and permanently employed in a number of office positions for more than 10 years. I got a shed load of positive work experience, learnt a hell of a lot about organisation, work ethics and money and rose to a pretty respectable salary to boot. I'm pleased to say that in my entire life I've only ever spent 6 months signing on for jobseekers. And that was 20 years ago so I think I've had a very lucky escape to date.
But I sacrificed it all in 2009 for a belated University education in Lincoln and now, having completed my three years, I am trying to run my own business. Office work, whilst lucrative, was always a stop gap not a career. It was however a pretty long stop gap and I could see my life rapidly disappearing in front of my eyes. Sound familiar? It scared me more than taking the risk and it got to the point where I had to make a decision. I made a lot of sacrifices to get here. Has it been worth it? I'm not sure yet. I'll have to take a rain check on that one.
So I was interested in the Guardian article I mentioned at the start of this blog. It rings true for the most part although I didn't agree with the bit about my 20s and I certainly wasn't a typical student. I was far happier financially in my 20s if nothing else, and that has to count for something. I'd be happy to go back and do them again with some of the hindsight I've picked up over the years.
My 30s have been more of a struggle that's for sure. And there's no doubt that making big changes in your life when things are supposed to be getting easier and you're meant to be settling down is a risky business that you may never recover from in times of recession.
Thankfully I've never really been the settling down kind, which is undoubtedly why I was able to make those risky choices which allowed me to do what I wanted with the employable years I have left. I may have had a lucky escape from that fate, but what lies ahead is far from certain.
So, here I am, mid recession, setting up a business and kind of wondering where the next pay packet is going to come from. It's scary. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I was thinking. But three years ago, with a student grant, my outgoings streamlined to the last penny and thinking that it would probably see me through the recession it seemed like a phenomenally good idea. Now I've been let loose into the big grown up world again and the recession is most definitely still here I'm getting a little shaky.
Perhaps I should string out my education for as long as I can, but post under-grad where would I get the funding? Should I quit whilst I'm ahead and go back to office? Well sadly it doesn't work like it used to. You have to jump through hoops just to get a week's temp work because the standard of staff has become so bad you can't trust agencies (so I was told). Plus the fortunes that were thrown about for temporary staff just aren't there anymore and everyone is watching their budgets. Besides which this is not really going to be an option. I didn't come all this way to default back to where I was three years ago. And whilst moving to a bigger city with potentially more jobs has it's appeal do I really want to quit now?
It's not all about money. But everything sure looks a lot rosier when you have some. Money can't buy you happiness but I'd rather cry in a Ferrari.
And you know what. I would.