For those who don’t know me, I am what is called a ‘trailing spouse’. Basically, I gave up my life in my home country to move halfway across the world with my spouse who was given an expat contract for an opportunity that we just could not miss. With that said, we have now been living in Europe since mid 2017. Before I left my home country, I resigned from my full time job in the finance division of a logistics company with no real intention of looking for another job while in Europe.
We have subsequently made the decision to return to our home country, South Africa, sometime in 2020. With the return, it would be logical for me to find a job, and return to my place in the workforce. Having been gone for a considerable amount of time, there are certain fears that have instilled themselves in my psyche as I contemplate how personal changes I have made to myself will fit into the work environment. The habits I have integrated, and the changes I have made to myself as a person and to what I represent, have instilled a fear that I will not find the type of job I am looking for upon my return.
As any ambitious person, while I would like to one day own my own company in the field of my choice, bills need to be paid, a roof needs to be put on our heads and food in our stomachs. I also need a specific amount of experience in order to complete my qualification as a Management Accountant. Finding the right culture in a company can be difficult. In my work history, I have worked for various industries from manufacturing, logistics, and retail and I have found that the biggest threat to a career is a boss who can teach you nothing. I have had all types of bosses, my favourite being the manager at my second place of work (where I met my husband). My manager there was the type who was never afraid to show people how to do tasks that were not in your job description. He cultivated learning and always wanted his staff to do well. My line managers at all of my other jobs were not like this, and in some cases, my peers were too afraid to show me how they do their jobs in case I was there to steal it. This often backfired when they wanted to take leave and were left with no option but to show me how to complete their tasks so that they would be done by the time they returned.
In some ways I feel as though leaving my career when I did gave me time to reflect on all the things I wanted and didn’t want from my career. Yes, there was a knock on my self-worth when I left because I was financially dependent on my husband, but I shouldn’t have been basing my self-worth on whether I was bringing money to the table or not.
Looking to the future, I know what kind of answers I want to give when asked to describe myself as a person, and what I hope to achieve in my career, and I know what vibe I would like my future workplace to have. My biggest fear is that I won’t find exactly the type of company I would like to work for. My other fear is that I won’t find balance in my personal life in terms of my routine. I plan to continue my blog and my studies as well as work and run the household. Women struggle so much when it comes to balance. As a housewife, I can basically do whatever I want, whenever I feel like doing it. I don’t really have to explain myself to anyone except myself. Once I have a boss to report to, all of that will change.
Another fear of mine is trying to explain why I have chosen not to work for the last few years. My initial plan was to take the first 6 months to settle in to our new routines and pursue all of the things that I usually never had much time to enjoy doing. Things like catching up on my reading and watching all the shows and movies I ever wanted to watch but never had enough hours in the day. Of course we know that all the plans I had were extended and I ended up spending a large majority of my time binge watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and now having to fit an insane amount of studying into these last few months that I have left with a large amount of time. On the one hand, if I explain all of this then I will look like someone who is lazy and no drive or work ethic. If I lie, well then I have to live with the fact that I lied. I suppose the right answer will come to me when the time is right although it does stress me out when I ponder on it.
While there are a lot of fears, I also have a lot of confidence about certain aspects of returning. For one, I will be earning my own salary again which is going to be thrilling. While I never want for much, it will be nice to be able to buy things for myself without asking someone to buy it for me. I will also be able to invest money into myself and things that will further my personal development and skills that will get me closer to who I need to be in order to reach my goals. I am also looking forward to meeting new people and learning how to interact with the skills that I am currently obtaining through personal development and pursuing my qualification. I am definitely a different person to who I was in 2017 and while change is scary, it is always fun to see the person I am becoming. My dream has always been to have an amazing career and to excel and climb the corporate ladder. It may not be for everyone but it is definitely what I see in my future when I think about my career.
Have you recently joined the workforce after a hiatus? Let me know what your fears and triumphs were. I look forward to reading them!
-The Uninspired Blogger