From Unemployed to One More Chance

bakers boy hat, pink, job

Towards the end of 2016 my contract at work came to an end. It was only a year contract as it was an apprenticeship and that was made very clear, even at the interview stage, but there was still an inkling of hope in me that I would ‘win everyone over’ and they ‘simply couldn’t bear to let me go’ (and a slightly bitter taste when one of the five ‘apprentices’ WAS kept on, I digress). I applied for a job that I cried over as I wanted it quite badly, I didn’t get it. I did some promoting work to tie me over for christmas and then began to apply to several other jobs into the new year.

Rejection after rejection, I soon realised I had to sign on otherwise I would run out of money for rent and be homeless (I’ll start revealing: one of my faults is a fierce independence that stops me asking for help and putting myself around people at all for fear of being a burden, I’m sure my brother would have had me or my boyfriends family but alas I must weather these storms alone, apparently!) so I did.

I had weekly appointments at the job centre where I had to provide evidence that I had applied to jobs everyday making up to 35+ hours a week. I applied for any and all jobs equating to 40+ hours based on my age and skill. I felt horrible, as the government intends, to even be using money from a system I had paid into since I was 16 (alright I’m not 50 but you get me). My first benefit amount was £28 for the month. I cried to and had to borrow from my mum until the amount raised to £500. It’s here I point out how I’m extremely grateful for even being able to get any benefit at all but I do also wonder how families and less able survive, especially as if you miss an appointment (say for being sick) you are immediately penalised and lose money (I missed a deadline by one day for an application to ASDA set by my advisor and was fined).

My mental health took a nose dive, I was computer and home bound but couldn’t even clean my flat or feed myself properly. How did I get here? No degree, nor internships at top theatres could even get me a job at Ben and Jerrys scooping ice cream. I felt shit. I felt lost and disparaged. I was barely blogging and had already declared the phone bill worth of adsense I was making on youtube. I couldn’t do this forever, I didn’t WANT to do this forever. I wanted to be a success. That’s all I’ve ever wanted really, to be this super selling creative machine that could fly her family and friends to cool places but for all the dreaming I can do (have you seen me daydream? It’s trance like) I couldn’t put anything into steps of action.

job, lemonade,

Come one fateful day in May I googled ‘Administration Jobs’ and a job as a receptionist at my old high school came up as number one. Everything about it was perfect from the hours to the location. I applied straight away. I made sure to add in every last basic skill, like use of a franking machine and having an excellent telephone voice (despite hating making calls). I made it to the interview, I was the youngest candidate by some 20 years, made sure to smile and chat (but not too much) to my potential colleagues and thankfully my headteacher from 8 years ago still recognised me! They said we’d hear back by the end of the week. I thought it went well. My boyfriend is a teacher so I asked him what things to say though, slightly felt bad to be ‘encroaching’ on his turf but by this point I was desparado for a job. The week rolled and I hadn’t heard back. I usually would cut my losses and carry on elsewhere but decided to email asking for feedback. I received a phone call apologising for the late response and that all the candidates were great but… they wanted to offer me the job! I was delighted! Ecstatic! and all of a sudden my life seemed to be on the up, in fact it all tumbled at once: I moved into a flat with Alex (massive shout to Momz, and Alex’s fam for the help). Went to my friends hen and wedding (shout out again Momz for helping me pay for it, weekends like that really lifted my spirit) got a cheeky tax rebate on my birthday in July, given I was unemployed for the best part of 5 months, that alex and I used to buy myself a designer bag and sunnies from Bicester Village.

A few months into my new role, seemingly out of the blue, the job I had apprenticed for was being offered to me on a permanent basis (So I DID win them over!). It was quite the tipping point, more money and quite frankly a career prospect that being a receptionist doesn’t always offer. Weirdly though, I wasn’t squealing with glee. In fact I was crying all the more. I felt better for being in demand but honestly not great, as can be witnessed here. I still felt as unsuccessful as I had before, why hadn’t I achieved any of the things my slightly younger self had gone for to begin with? Why do I give up so easily before deciding ‘omg I could have been xyz by now’? It didn’t feel, for my wellbeing, right to take the job- even though my stable headed, independent self was screaming internally that risks are for 18 year old’s- I want to be happy as much as I want to be successful. I kept asking Alex if he’d be annoyed if I didn’t take the job. I think I was looking for someone to tell me what to do. In fact I asked everyone I know but the decision was always going to lay with me.

I didn’t take the job. I decided I want to give acting, writing and blogging one more solid go. Basically the jobs people don’t consider real jobs, require reptile skin and are really hard to earn a consistent western world, 21st century girl, wage. I just have to do it. I have to at least say I really tried and my receptionist role pays me enough for bills and is part time. As if by magic, once I made that firm decision I got my first ever sponsored blog work, paid real dolla from people who like my work. I applied to a part time drama school and have just found out I’ve got in and will be starting in January. This time I won’t let anyone elses feelings about blogging, acting or writing make me stop. I’ll become so successful at it I’ll fly my family and friends to cool places. Look, there’s no moral to this story because it’s not the end and God knows where I’ll be but I would say that things do work out even when at they’re at their worst so… like… don’t give up.

I hope you enjoyed this post x


  1. 23rd December 2017 / 10:57 pm

    God is so good, keep pressing💙

  2. 24th December 2017 / 12:00 am

    Congratulations on perusing your dreams and getting into drama school. This was an inspiring post.

  3. Delores
    24th December 2017 / 12:08 am

    This is a nice “journal” if you will! And I look forward to the promise your young life charts. You go Zahra!

  4. 24th December 2017 / 1:24 pm

    I loved this blog and can relate. The soul destroying experience of applying for benefits and feeling like you’re begging to be helped! I’m so glad things are on the up for you, you deserve it!

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