Redundant at 36, until this point I had a career of sorts. I’ve worked in national museums, local museums and for archaeology units since I was old enough to do so. By pure luck I ended up working in the museum which when I visited as a seven year old child made me want to become an archaeologist (rather than a journalist) and pursue this path. Its been exciting, I’ve seen and done lots of brilliant things from digging up graves full of treasure to caves with early human remains. I’ve sat in fields wearing a hard hat and drinking tea, I’ve been behind the scenes at some of the UK’s most iconic national institutions. I’ve handled specimens collected by Darwin, Sloane, Mary Anning, Dickens and many, many other influential people. I’ve met all manner of people from celebrities to local eccentrics. It’s been challenging, exciting, fun and demoralising. I’m at the end of this journey.
It’s the end of my dream and my career because I have children and a family. Museums and archaeology are not the job for those who have to remain in one place. With three children the salary I could expect to earn by the time I factored in travel costs would mean that I would be paying to go to work. All around me my peers face the same problem, those who gave up their dream early going into law, banking, teaching, I.T and those who find themselves in my position going to work in shops or admin, wondering how on earth they could afford to do a P.G.C.E. or forced into teaching science or maths because those are funded. Its criminal.
I have my up days where I feel the future is full of potential, but there are quite a few lows. I feel written off, wasted. I wanted to contribute to society, make a difference and have a career. I feel stripped of all this, my ambition naked. Quite simply I feel a failure. I’m prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and be a loyal employee. I am virtually unemployable unless I work freelance. I don’t really want to work freelance, I want a career where the amount of effort I put in is rewarded with progression. I want to use my brain and my skills.
I know that a lot of my self esteem was wrapped up in my job, I didn’t realise how much. What am I now? Who am I? When people ask me what I do I find it embarrassing saying I am a mum and not much more really. Yes its a valuable job, but frankly anyone can do it, its something you fall into not something you have achieved. I don’t think people respect that.I’m not depressed as such, more fed up. Fed up with my lot in life. I don’t see much future other than clearing up after people, cooking dinners and being a slave.
When I was a child I felt as if I could do anything, now I feel as if I can do nothing. The world doesn’t want or need me, I have no value, I cant contribute anything other than bringing up my children. Its hard to come to terms with. I should have at least 28 years where I would have some value, where I could contribute to society. Instead its looking like 28 years of skivvydom. At the moment I wish I had chosen a different path, any path, just not this particular one. The careers advisor suggested I get a job in our local supermarket, I’m not putting down anyone who has chosen to work there, but if that is where I end up you have to ask: what was the point?