Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Change. How do we cope?

Life throws some odd things at us sometimes doesn't it. You are lulled into a sense of "things are going well at the moment aren't they" and whammo.

Sometimes it seems you've had an inkling that something is afoot, and a small part of you is hesitantly mentally prepared, and you cope reasonably well. But at others things seem to come out of the blue and confusion reigns.

Then there are the other changes that we know are imminent. We try to prepare ourselves mentally for the change, and sometimes fail dismally (although I use the word fail loosely, as I don't really accept the notion of failure as such). Perhaps it would be fairer to say we struggle with change that doesn't fit with our desires in the scheme of things.

Illness, being made redundant, the change of job or returning to the workforce after a break. These are the kind of issues faced by many people at some stage in their adult work-life.

When I first began working with people who had been made redundant I was mentally prepared for anger, bitterness, confusion, grief and loss. The emotions that I hadn't expected to encounter quite so often were relief, joy and excited anticipation. Some of my clients were simply delighted to be able to leave an unsatisfying job easily, and with a bit of a payout.

One gentleman had emigrated to Australia some 30+ years ago from Greece, and hadn't managed to squeeze language lessons into his early years here. He was initially embarrassed about his limited English. He'd worked in the one factory all that time, and was very hesitant discussing his career options with me. He then, with a twinkle in his eye, began talking about his dream - to buy a caravan and head off around Australia. Couldn't wait to get started. Why on earth would he want to retrain with the whole of the country waiting to be explored? Change dressed as anticipation.

Others were just happy to have the opportunity to change direction. They saw their redundancy as a chance to do something for themselves. The government offer of a short training course was gratefully accepted, and they planned to use their payout to extend training into an area of interest rather than working in a mundane job through necessity. Change as challenge.

Many of these clients had fled war-torn countries years ago. Had escaped with the few possessions they could carry, and left behind satisfying careers in universities, in the medical professions, as teachers. I simply can't imagine what they suffered on so many levels. but to add insult to injury to be forced to work in menial jobs as factory fodder once safely here must have been ghastly. So much change, adjusted to through necessity.

One sweet young slip of a girl, newly pregnant, sobbed uncontrollably. It was the only job she'd ever had, and with her limited English, she had little prospect of further employment. For various reasons, the retraining being offered was not practical for her. The baby would now be born. I wonder how she's going. Painful change.

There's no "one size fits all" scenario, we simply do the best we can at the time, with whatever resources we have to hand.

Change continues, we adapt.

Life goes on.


Boonsong said...

I enjoyed this. Thanks.

All the best, Boonsong

sue said...

Thanks Boonsong, enjoy the day.