As I see it, I’ll spend roughly half of my life working. Give or take improvements in average life expectancy and of course retirement age by the time I get there. Well, that was my logic when I got my first “proper” job after college at 18.
Like many I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do at 18, but I was determined to find my way and find something I enjoyed doing, then at least I’d be happy in work. I also had quite a vibrant social life too so obviously being able to fund this was also on my radar. I started off in admin and fairly quickly developed a flair for computers, analysis and project management. Recognising the importance of qualifications in getting promoted, higher paid jobs, more exciting roles etc, I studied in the evening whilst working full time. I received a First BSc in Business and IT followed a few years later with an MSc in Health Science when I started working for the NHS.
For risk of sounding like I’m trying to sell my CV – why am I telling you this? Because I enjoy working. I always have done. It’s what keeps me ticking, interested, constantly developing and learning. Granted you can also do this outside of work – which I also do – but it’s the length of time you invest in your work. I personally think it’s so sad to think people just exist in work, and see it as a means to pay the bills. I get that people might not be ambitious or have aspirations or would like nothing more than an ‘easy life’ which in turn I’m sure will reduce your stress levels. Or that people may not necessarily want to go “all the way to the top” – and quite frankly neither do I. But there’s a happy medium and everyones is set at their own scale and pace and one that has to be respected. But regardless of this EVERYONE has something to give, to offer, to contribute and being part of a workforce that drives things forward for the better, whilst using your expertise, is such a good feeling.
A crucial, and often underestimated influence in making your work/life balance achievable and career goals respected and delivered is having a supportive line manager. I cannot stress this enough. They can make or break you and I have witnessed on too many occasions this happening to other people. If they are breaking you do something about it! Luckily for me I’ve not experienced this first hand. I have been incredibly fortunate (on the whole) with my line managers through the years and are still friends with some: Elliot Pearson at the CIS, Rob Bowles at Ventura and Claire Jones at the NHS:
My current line manager Helen Dowdy (no pic. She’s camera shy 😊) is amazingly supportive, honest, trustworthy, respectful, caring but at the same time has a similar thirst and ambition for work as me. We’re both doers, but we have a mutual acceptance that I’ll have to do things at my own pace, in my own time when I’m well enough to do things. Although this is incredibly frustrating it is totally understood, respected and a non-issue. It’s been nearly 3 months since I went off work for my surgery. I’ve of course been back since then, but to not have the added pressure of my work life being a problem is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
The bald(ing) bunch 🤣
Along with Helen, I’m also incredibly lucky to work alongside some amazing people in NHS England North Region, and the support I’ve had in the office has been overwhelming. I do feel very at ease at work and from a self-confidence perspective too it’s important to feel comfortable and respected regardless of what headgear I might be wearing or not as the case might be below 🤣. I wasn’t aware before of how many colleagues in the office were thinning but seized the opportunity to take a pic for this post. A bit of moral support goes along way and you can’t beat a bit of office commaradery. I’ve been getting tips on head moisturisers, best SPF and alsorts from the blokes – love it! Granted a few people haven’t recognised me but then again I still find myself taking a second look in the mirror some days without any hair.
A nice distraction?
Maybe so. But I’ll have the BRCA2 gene mutation for life so I can distract myself as much as I like but it’s not going to go away. It’s far more about accepting it’s part of my genetic makeup and who I am. Prevention is key for the future and I am in control of that. I have already reduced my chance of getting breast cancer in the future by 90% from having a double mastectomy and I will also have a hysterectomy (BRCA2 carriers also have a 45%-65% risk of ovarian cancer +40yrs) in the near future once I’ve taken a breather 🙂.
Anywho, that’s enough from me. I need to get back to work 🤓.
Liz Spice, 20th September 2017