The best thing since Waitrose Essentials thick sliced bread

Hello again everyone!!

So things have been a little bit quiet on the Universally Challenged front for a while. Last you guys heard, Burly was in hospital after contracting the infamous Delhi belly while I was snivelling inside a duvet cocoon of self-pity.

Good news though, Burly isn’t dead! Hooray! In fact he’s been out of hospital for ages. Like over a month. I’m just been incredibly rubbish and never actually updated my blog. However there is a surprising reason for this. I am also no longer inside a duvet cocoon of self-pity. Why you ask?




Ahem. While I suppress my internal squeeing, let’s try to take a bit of a professional view on this for a minute.

So as probably most of you are aware by now, I’ve been struggling to find work since I left Uni around this time last year. Without going into too much of a rant, I was left pretty high and dry by my school, who seemed to be glad to just wash their hands of me and push me out prematurely into the world with absolutely zero idea of what I was going to do next. This caused me to become increasing disillusioned with my place in the world and slowly all my confidence and self-belief ebbed away with every rejected job application sent back to me.

Over the past few months however, I’ve been getting help from professionals who have begun to very carefully and gradually put things into place to help me on my way again. I’ve been attending regular meetings with an employment officer through the charity MIND. At first I was apprehensive about what she would be like as I’ve heard some horror stories off friends who have been forced into unpaid jobs in exchange for help. I knew that I would rather continue my lonely life of unemployment then have what little self-esteem I had left beaten out of me by such soul sapping work. Fortunately, the meetings with my employment officer are nothing at all like that. She’s absolutely lovely and completely respects my boundaries for what I feel comfortable doing. Just knowing that I was attending meetings with her gave me the drive to continue applying for work as I was eager to show her that I wanted to make a change, and all the time she praised me and pointed me in the direction of job adverts that seemed suited to my desires.

Unfortunately, and sadly predictably, all the animal related jobs that I applied for during that time rejected my application. With the help of my employment officer, I plucked up the courage to request feedback on my performance to maybe pick out areas that I could improve on. I was a bit heartened when they all got back in touch with me saying that my application was good it was just that so many people were applying for the jobs, but I still felt down because I was I ever going to get a job when the competition was always going to be this fierce?


One thing that I always knew would help me to get a job would be to get a job. I’m serious, that’s not a typo. Everyone always says that once you get your first job, finding others to follow becomes easier as you’ve proved that you can actually work in society. All of my references on my CV at the time were just lecturers who had known me very well at Uni and I had no employment referees. My last job was actually as a waitress in a pub restaurant when I was sixteen, which isn’t exactly impressive when you’re trying to get potential employers to take you seriously.

So, although I was getting help and support, I was still stuck in a rut that I was finding it extremely tricky to break free of.


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This is where my very good friend Pingue stepped in to save the day! Some of you may have already heard of him from the atrocities of April the 9th. Well, Pingue currently works at Southampton University and happened to hear about the possibility of temping work arising in another department. Obviously his down-and-out, unemployed hobo friend (me if you haven’t guessed) was the first person to spring to mind and so he sent me a message asking me if I’d like my name to be put forward. All he told me was that it was something to do with computers. I was feeling particularly care-free and brave that fateful day, and so I responded ‘Sure, why not?’.

A meeting was quickly set up for me to go along to Southampton Uni. I was told that it would just be for a chat so I didn’t really think too much about it and astonishingly I managed to keep myself calm right up until I entered the office.

I was then ambushed by a bunch of jumbled up cables and a computer and promptly told to set it up and connect it to the internet. This was no informal chat, this was an interview. Not just any interview, an interview with a surprise practical exam.


I managed to maintain a cheery smile on my face as I swore and panicked inwardly. I was going to bloody wring pingue’s bloody neck!! After taking a few deep breaths, forcing myself not to run instantly back out the door, I realised that the task was a lot simpler then I had first thought. I knew what all the cables were and where they should go and pretty quickly I’d finished the task.

Then came the interview that up until about five minutes previously I had had no idea would be happening. Again, by some miracle, I managed to keep myself calm and walked into the room with a smile on my face and my head held high. And it seemed to go extremely well! I kept smiling, I cracked a few jokes and I didn’t stumble over my words.  The job that I was applying for turned out to involve exchanging old hardware for new hardware on a contract that would run up until August. However, at the end of the interview I was told I might be more suitable for a different position. My positivity instantly deflated as I had thought the interview had been going so well and I felt my stomach drop with dread at the thought of what lesser work they might offer me. In fact, I was asked if I’d be interested in taking on the role of Welcome IT officer, a job that would involve greeting new students, assisting them in setting up their IT equipment and sorting out any problems they might have.  It would have longer hours (9-5 instead of 9-4), opportunities for overtime and the contract would run until the end of October.  Trying to stop my heart from actively leaping out of my chest, I calmly responded ‘Yes, I would be interested in that’.


The very next day I received an email informing me that I had been successful in my interview and that the role of Welcome IT Officer was open should I wish to take it.

For the entire rest of the day I was in celebration mode! Burly was actually taking a work from home day as he was taking me to an appointment with my employment officer later that day and I couldn’t wait to get there to tell her the good news! I was just so pleased that I had managed to get a job all on my own! Ok, ok, I give credit to Pingue too, however I had done the interview entirely by myself and come through alive! SO MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!!1

That lunch time Burly and I decided to pop out to the shops to buy a feast to celebrate. It was a choice between Tesco and Waitrose, but as this was a special occasion, Waitrose it was. I went around the shop in a frenzy akin to a contestant on Supermarket Sweep! We got pastries, Nutella, alcohol, ALL THE MEATS! At the very end of the spree, we doubled back to pick up the more mundane items. When we back tracked to the bakery, Burly’s eyes widened with wonder. ‘Thick sliced bread’, he whispered in awe, ‘we should get it as a treat!’. I grinned at him for a moment, thinking that he was being sarcastic, but when I saw his face I realised he was totally serious. Never in my life have I ever seen someone so excited over bread. But even in his ecstasy of bready wonderment, the ever practical Burly knew his limits. Bypassing the fancier brands on offer, he reached out and selected the Waitrose Essentials brand of thick sliced bread. We were truly living the dream.


But now I must bring you forward, back to the present day for the most shocking revelation of all. Make sure you’re sitting down for this one. Are you ready? Here goes…

I have just finished my first week at work.

I’m getting up and leaving my house every morning. I’m going to work everyday from 9 to 5. I’m meeting new people and making new friends. I really like everyone I’m working with because they’re all so helpful and friendly. I’m coming home in the evenings and having a nice relaxed time watching TV with Burly. And I’m going to bed and sleeping undisturbed.


In fact, even more miraculously, I’ve slept peacefully every night completely undisturbed by nightmares!

And it all just feels so incredibly normal. I feel like an actual normal human being doing normal human things and having completely normal human emotional responses to them. And I’m so ecstatically happy!!!

While I was unemployed I began to think about my time at vet school and how much I hated the work experience I did there. It was so incredibly stressful, always with people trying to trip me up or catch me out, always looking for the mistakes I made and never praising me for the good I did. Especially during my last year at vet school, the whole environment became extremely cut-throat with even the people I considered friends turning their backs on my pleas for help while they looked after their own interests. I began to wonder if it wasn’t the work that was the problem but me? What if every single job I had from then on made me feel that panicked and isolated? What if I was destined never to work but just languish away at home doing nothing? All that I ever wanted in life was to be a useful human being, to do something good. I started to feel like just a big empty void of nothing. Not only was I not making a good impact on the world, I wasn’t making any impact at all. In a lot of ways it felt even worse than making a bad impact. At least doing something that had repercussions meant that there was proof that I existed, but just having no influence on the world at all made me feel like I might as well not be here at all.

I’ve only been at my new work place for a week but I already feel so much happier and healthier. It’s given me a kind of closure. I’ve realised that it wasn’t a problem with me and that I just wasn’t meant to be working in such a stressful environment as Veterinary Science. And that’s absolutely fine! Lots and lots of people aren’t vets in the world and now I know I’m one of them. And I’m so much better off without it 🙂

So here I am, an actual functioning part of society. Just your average everyday person with an average everyday job. And I couldn’t be happier!

Maybe I’ll go out and get some thick sliced bread to celebrate…



About Universally Challenged

Just your average 80's child surviving depression through love, life and Quidditch.
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