No, You Are Not Better Than Me. You Are Just Being a Twat – Day 218

Saturday 13:54, Shoreditch Grind, Old Street, London

I’m about to moan so consider yourself warned.

One of the things that used to irritate the hell out of me at university was other students’ notion of superiority. These students were everywhere. There was Julie and her arty friends from the Musical Society, who air kissed themselves like there was no tomorrow and who made it perfectly clear they were it and you were definitely not.  There was that annoying, spoilt third-year medic, her name escapes me (thank goodness), who boasted about her research project. I vividly remember the whole thing as if it were yesterday. ‘This is what a real research project looks like‘, she mocked us third-year science students as she disappeared down the corridor with what must have been a printed edition of the internet. And then, of course, there were those annoying students who claimed they never did any work whatsoever but somehow, miraculously, ended up with top marks.

Fast forward 20 years and you would have thought that this behaviour, utterly demoralising to us mere mortals who have to work out asses off to get top grades, would have died out. But no. It’s still lurking around, like some foul smell, poisoning our minds with supremacy, delusion and malice.

Like the other day. We had all submitted our essay on managing marketing. And as per usual a bunch of us moaned about how boring/underwhelming this module had been. When I asked to predict our scores, everyone low-balled it, claiming that they would either fail or get a very low mark, but lo and behold, top marks again all round. And to add insult into injury a fellow student claimed she only spent 30 minutes on her research proposal and scored 7/10. Yep, the same research proposal I spend days writing. Days!

What’s the point of all this? Why do otherwise intelligent people turn into complete knobheads when it comes to academic work? Is it an English thing? Or does this prevail in our entire civilised world? I just don’t get it.

As professionals the notion of appearing better than everyone else will get you nowhere and is a sure way of alienating yourself from your team and peers.

Nobody likes it. So stop being a twat.


… And For My Next Trick – Day 213

Monday 11:26, Old Bethnal Green Road

On Wednesday it will have been 5 weeks since I left my now ex-employer. It has been a roller coaster of a journey, lots of highs but also the occasional low. From a personal development point of view, this is what I’ve learnt so far:

Don’t look back... There really is no point dwelling on the past and asking myself why things came to an abrupt end. Over the years, the lyrics from Baz Luhrmann’s epic song Sunscreen have helped me understand the unusefullness of worrying. ‘Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum’, the song goes and for me this is the crystal clear truth.

… but allow yourself to be pissed off. When the professional rug has been pulled under one’s feet, it’s bloody hard not to feel like you’re going to trip over. Subconsciously I’ve probably switched on over a dozen coping mechanisms and I feel that I need them in order to help me on a daily basis. But it’s also important to allow myself to be pissed off. I joked with a friend of mine that I should write a letter to my ex-employer, telling them exactly what I feel – and never send it. I have yet to do this. I blame yoga and being Swedish for my ineptitude of being able to express anger. A decade of yoga has probably given me too much mental stability, and being Swedish, well, we’re know to have the same facial expression whether we’re happy, sad or angry.

Be resourceful. I’ve always been very resourceful, both personally and professionally, and now it’s time to explore what’s in the box but also what’s outside the box (and what’s not even a box!). During my 14 years in STM publishing I’ve developed a large network of ex-colleagues and peers and everyone I’ve spoken to have been immensely supportive. Some have even gone completely out of their ways to help me find my next dream job. I’m a practical and analytical problem-solver by nature and resourcefullness during this time will be key.

The luxury of choice. One of the unexpected benefits of being made redundant has been that I’ve allowed myself to take a breather and really think about what I’m really good at, and what I enjoy doing professionally speaking. I’ve had the luxury to mind map my strengths and talents and to explore new professional fields that I would rarely have explored if I were still in my old job. At the moment, I’m pursuing three different (but related) fields, and I’m curious to see where I’ll end up.

Don’t panic! One of my coping mechanisms that I’m employing is to keep my cool and avoid panicking. One the day all of this happened, my world came crashing down and a myriad of personal, professional and emotional consequences played out before my eyes.   But by day two, I was back on the saddle again and calmly riding into the unknown. Some days it’s hard not to panic, or at least it’s hard not to be the normal, upbeat happy me. But it’s on those days that it’s particularly important not to panic.

Old habits die hard. Now, where does this all leave my MBA, you may be asking yourselves. Well, I initially thought that all this newly found time would enable me to go back to more normal study/sleep patterns. I mean, why wake up at 5.15am to study when I have nowhere to be at 9am? But much to my surprise, I’ve failed miserably. For some reason I can’t seem to force myself to study during the morning, or at lunch time or at any other time during the day. For the last 7 months, my main productive streak has been 5.30 – 7.15am, and having all the time in the world has proven a particularly unexpected disturbance. I’m contemplating going back to my pre-dawn ritual, as it was an effective and efficient habit, but this really seems completely ridiculous to me.

My next trick