The Rat Race

Originally published on October 12, 2011 as my entry to the3six5 project. Reproducing here as the3six5 site no longer exists.

I felt the person to my left shuffling uneasily. The train was pulling into London and I could sense the purpose in the passenger I was sitting next to. Everything about his body language shouted at me ‘I’ve got somewhere to be’. I sensed this non-verbal tension and shifted my legs so he could join those already queueing at the train doors, all seemed eager to hurry off to their destination.

After making my way to a coffee shop and opening up my laptop, the headline that greeted me seemed ominous given the purpose of my visit to London. It read: ‘UK unemployment hits 17 year high’. ‘Great’ I mused as I thought back to early September, when I made the decision to leave a well paid job, move city and try something new.

It was no accident I was in London looking for a new job, there was no redundancy or firing. There had been one simple motivator. Fear. Fear of mediocrity and a resolute refusal to settle. During the twilight weeks of my last job, the need for change grated at my subconscious.

But this was London. It had higher prices, higher expectations, and a bigger talent pool. ‘Can I compete here?’ I thought as I hurried to meet a recruiter, mentally rattling through the key points I wanted to get across from my résumé.

‘Tell me about your previous role’ the recruiter said with a warm smile. I began telling the story. My story. After a few minutes, I realized I had a lot to talk about and I’d barely got started. Self doubt started to fade away and confidence flooded in.

I left the meeting with the promise of a call back and a sense of belonging. I looked around at the hustle and bustle of the city and started to believe I’d found a place to thrive rather than struggle.

The evening newspaper I picked up reiterated what I’d read earlier – 1 in 10 Londoners were out of work. The irony of my quest no longer seemed worrying – I had belief. It might not be today or tomorrow but, sooner or later, a job offer would come. I could feel it.