So what does it take to make a person complete, happy? Is it a beautiful home, or a nice car? Is it the security of a professional career? Is it the expensive holidays? Money surely makes the world go round but does it create the peace of mind and the contentment of our being that we all inevitably strive for?
You know must of us struggle with our lives and the decisions we make along the way. Why do we feel the need to go to College and University in effort to follow the big money careers if ultimately what will bring us more pleasure are the simpler things in life. Most of us will have to work but why not choose the less stressful options that allow us the time to explore ourselves and our world.
All my life I wanted to be the old fashioned girl. I wanted to get married and have children. I knew this from the age of 16. I never had any drive to become anything more. Yes I went to College but it soon became apparent whilst there that not only was I wasting my time but the education board also. How can you force your self to do well at school if you have no love for what you are learning? I thought I could tell myself to do well, after all I can prove to be quite a bright student when I put my mind to something; but I found that I would continually shut down and select distractions to use as excuses for not wanting to follow that path.
I was told by my parents from a young age that I had to do well in school if I ever wanted to get a well paid job and do well in life. My parents, who always had to struggle as far as money was concerned. Yet they always seemed so happy in their life, theyíve always been very much in love with each other and theyíve always had food on the table and a roof over their head, isnít that far more important than big money? Perhaps for them money would have been the icing on their cake and so they assumed that the idea of good schooling leading to a well paid job is what they should instil within my brother and I.
So I tried to follow that path, but failed, my heart wasnít in it. My AíLevel results werenít that bad but I had no intention of going the extra mile and going to University. I thought I was being lazy at first. Then I thought I was being greedy, explaining to my mother and father that I wanted to go out and get a job and earn a monthly wage packet. What I should have done then is join an amateur dramatics club, painted scenes from the local park, took a course in dress making. Practically anything creative would have met my needs then. Yes I could still work but perhaps part time in a local shop or in a pub to make ends meet, but my parents words still rang in my head, I had to have some kind of career and earn money to be happy. Iím not blaming my parents you understand. They simply told me what they thought was right and best in their experienced opinion.
So I got a job, selling encyclopaedias. Hey, it was a job ok? And I thought it was pretty cool, at first. There were about 10 of us altogether, some would sell, some would deliver and some would administer the entire operation. We would travel throughout the UK and Germany knocking door to door of Army, RAF and Naval married quarters. The reasoning behind this was that it was generally assumed, by the operation, that they would all be young families in quest for education and in need of books.
To my surprise, I found that the operation were correct. Most of the people I spoke my rehearsed introduction to were in that position. The average age was between 20-40, most had 2-3 children and the majority wanted to buy our books. Great! I soon got my demonstration down to a fine art. First we told these families that we were conducting advertising and marketing within the area and asked them if they would like to take part by giving us their opinions on the products that we demonstrated. Hmm, sounds a bit suspicious doesnít it? Well it was mostly true but there was an ulterior motive behind this. You see, as far as they were concerned, at first, we werenít selling anything. True to our word, we showed them the books and asked for their opinions, most people thought that they would genuinely value and appreciate these books. By the time this part of the demonstration had finished, we had them on our side, they were relaxed and we were no longer a threat to them. We told them that on the basis of their feedback that they were the perfect type of family who we would like to use in our advertising campaign. They would be able to buy all the books shown, at a special reduced price, on the basis that they drafted us a letter of satisfaction, which we could use in future campaigns. Now that part, I donít think was true but I was never told otherwise and I certainly never seen any of these letters used but nonetheless the offer was very good. What they actually bought were the full set of encyclopaedias at retail cost but they got about another 50 or so books free. Ranging from nature books to childrens books to a set of ĎThe Classicsí etc. The demonstration was set to inspire the people that they were getting a good deal and ultimately they were.
Anyway I was employed with this company for about a year or more, I got to the point where I couldnít sell these books anymore and Iím certain anyone who has sold encyclopaedias before will confirm this. For 2 weeks I sold my books but all my orders cancelled the very next day. Had I become so arrogant within my demo that I was scaring these people into buying and they were coming to their senses when they woke the next day? It seemed so. I left the company disheartened and disillusioned with my sales capability.
My next venture was as a Telephone Receptionist for a photocopying company. The reception was downstairs and the offices and staff sat upstairs. I shared my reception with the Sales Secretary, Diane. Diane was a real character and over the next 18 months, I came to love her energy for inventing fun. Together the pair of us created immature havoc within that reception. This included breaking our diets on a Friday by buying 6 doughnuts, eating them and then running around the showroom until we felt we had burned off the extra calories. It was lucky that the showroom had blinds from which to hide these antics from the world! It also included buying a certain packet of chocolates, eating all but the one that looked a funny shape or didnít have enough chocolate and writing to the manufacturer complaining about it. This led to the manufacturer issuing us a £1 voucher off our next chocolate purchase. Brilliant!
Another character I remember from this time was faye, a mature woman, never married and who insisted on wearing clothes bought from the local charity shops. No one really knew what she did there but she had been there for years and had grown to be part of the furniture. I think she may have talked a lot and drank lots of coffee, Iím sure I even seen her tidying the showroom once but for the life of me I cant think what she was employed to do.
My time at the office grew short with the impending amalgamation of our office and the more productive office several miles away. They kept me employed within the service department but it wasnít the same without Diane, I soon got bored amongst the middle aged (remember I was only about 20 at this time) and I moved on.
I still hadnít found anyone to marry or more to the point anyone who wanted to marry me so my search for my career continued. I found myself back in sales but this time in a more professional capacity. I was an area sales representative with my own company car. Wow! Not bad, I thought I was finally on track. That was until I discovered that I worked for an alcoholic wretch of a woman, Liz. I later found out that this was her first chance at being given a management position and I believe it may have been her last. Her excellent de-motivational skills and her brilliant patronising way of talking to me, led me to be, in the end, the worst area sales representative ever. Before the year was out I found myself spending my time sitting in Asda car park taking a snooze or sitting in cafťís reading the paper, anything but selling.
Once I had left, I would sometimes ponder upon the notion of harm coming Lizís way, but then I reaslised that she was just a sad old lady whoís only enjoyment in life came from alcohol and taking her misery out on others. Harm had already been her way.
My final plight in my career epic was to join the customer service team of a big finance company. Here was good. Ok so I wasnít an executive or anything but the management were really nice and the people I worked with were honest and genuine. This company seemed fair in workload, their expectations werenít unreasonable and the salary was relatively good.
I have many a happy memories of the 3 years that I held my seat within customer service and only moved on to another department when a career opportunity came my way as a Senior assistant in the Collections department. I excelled here. I found that I had a good rapport with the customers, I was able to reason with them and resolve issues quickly and effortlessly.
It was also my fortune, during my reign as a Senior assistant, that I got married. Finally!
My husband is the ambitious sort. He gave me the encouragement to drive myself to go on and become Supervisor of my own team. Which is where I am now. My husband thinks that I can have a family and my newly set career albeit at junior management level. And as I sit here now expecting the new arrival of our baby Son, only 15 weeks to go, I realise that he is right. The world is what you make it. And I think I have found my icing on the cake. The road to get there was long but I found my way.
I have my husband, whom I love very much, we have started our family and I have a good job waiting for me when I return to work after maternity leave.
And I realise that recently Iíve had feelings of being bored and restless but if Iím bored its with the washing up or the ironing, the mundane chores that we all have to do each day. And if Iím restless its because Iím not used to being content. Its been difficult to stop the searching that I have become so used to.
Money doesnít make the world go round. Our friends and our families do. They are the ones that give us the wonderful memories we carry with us until the end of our days. They alone create the happiness and contentment that we all deserve.