As part of last week’s introspective which I posted to this blog I wrote about the way in which I felt motivated to make a change and to try something a bit different now which will help to prepare me for a future career at the end of my training contract.
After much searching around I have managed to secure myself a position as a writer for the Wiener Library. The library is a registered charity in the UK, and is the world’s oldest archive of holocaust and genocide paraphenalia. Whilst their collection mostly focusses on Nazism and anti-semitism, it is also a collection for a wider range of studies on the subject of genocide, including acts of violence perpetrated in Armenia, Rwanda, Serbia etc.
I am charged with writing one piece a month for their website. I’m hoping that this will be a manageable enough contribution (I’m sure it will be), and I’m excited about writing for such a well established and respected institution.
Needless to say, the role incorporates two things I am very much interested in. Firstly, writing: Whilst having this tumblr account is good for me, there is no obligation to write, and consequently, as with many blogs in the past, you find these long stretches of inactivity pockmarked with catch-up blog posts - not ideal! Hopefully writing for the library will ensure regular structured writing.
Secondly: the subject of genocide. My broad plan for the next few years is to move into the third sector, and this gives me suitable experience of the third sector, whilst structuring my own learning through research, improving my own writing, and increasing my knowledge of the holocaust and genocides. Somewhere in my future plan is a masters, perhaps related to genocide and holocaust studies, or conflict resolution, and I’m hoping that this gives me a good grounding. I’m sure that it will help me to improve my confidence in writing to an audience, and my competence in discussing such sensitive issues.
My first post will be published in the month. I’ll be sure to share it around. Wish me luck.
The Wiener Library - http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/
All thoughts and motivations in a person have a root cause or origin – whether it is easy to pin these germinations down to a source or not, they stem from something, and it’s good to remind ourselves sometimes of what that root is; to reconcile ourselves more closely with the motivating seed inside. It was something as insignificant as a Christmas clear-out of my London bedroom which helped me to gain some recent perspective on myself.
This month marks the half-way point in my graduate training contract – and upon the realisation that I’ve come this far (and the haunting realisation that I still have a long way to go), I’ve begun thinking in a lot more depth about my plans for the future. A future where my individual agency in the job market will be restored, and I will be free of financial bindings written into my contract. In eighteen months everything will be up for review, and at this point I can decide whether to stay or to go.
As followers may or may not know I sort of feel as if I ‘sold myself down-river’ a bit, by applying to these jobs in the financial services industry, when my interests, and perceived talents, lie within more arts-based competencies. I know that my closest friends realise it, and I don’t think that my justifying platitudes really convince them that I’m doing the right thing. They certainly don’t convince me. The date of my contract review is a long way off, but I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early to begin planning for the future, and that the more planning you can do, the better chance you stand of fulfilling your goals. It’s sort of cheesy, but it’s true.
So, now, at the half-way point of my contract, and with the bulk of exams under my belt, I feel as if I finally have the small bit of leeway I need in order to begin improving myself further outside of work. I think this is also evidenced by the fact that I know have time to think properly. My mind isn’t continually troubled by work demands or issues, and I can feel like that true part of myself is being given a bit of space to breathe, and the corporate veil which I wear on a daily basis can at least be set aside now and then, to reveal what I think of as a truer and more honest face.
I’m not a particularly tidy person, I like to think that I am organised and composed, but the state of my living space tells a different story. I get through a lot of notepads with both work and non-work stuff and they continually clutter my floor. In December I decided to have a clear up, and I went through each book ripping out pages I wanted to keep and filing them in some vague and inconsistent order. One of the pieces of writing I found dated back to my first month in work, eighteen months ago, in which I had scribbled down a series of thoughts, ideas, and plans relating to work and life outside of work. Looking back at this note I can remember the writing of it, and knew that it was written at the point where I could (already) perceive what a slippery slope having a career can be. A career becomes like a living creature, which, once it has the taste for it, leeches more and more of your precious personal time.
It was this note which made me realise how far removed my daily and prevailing identity is, to the real person inside. I still find it inconceivably bizarre that a person can feel detached from various mental versions of themselves, and this is something I’ve discussed before. Sure, if you change your haircut, your glasses, your style, the detachment is palpable, even recorded in history, in photographs. Mental detachment is so different. How easy is it to get perspective on your own thoughts and feelings when these things blur so much over time? Without writing confessionals is it even possible to experience any kind of perspective on our previous selves? How do we demarcate the beginning of one thought process and the ending of another, identification with an ideology and a subsequent departure from it? Not possible – the mind and its content is too diffuse to be internally categorised.
Nonetheless, if you write, then you have at least some sort of indication of previous thoughts and feelings, a record of them, a history of them, a trail of breadcrumbs leading to a former shadow of oneself. The points I made in this note were a sort of self-analysis of who I was and what I valued. I think that at this time it was important for me to get this down on paper as I could already feel myself to be a fish out of water. The note also involved some vague guidelines regarding what I wanted to achieve in the three years ahead of me. I think that my main and overbearing worry was that I didn’t want to emerge at the end of this whole thing as a one trick pony. I didn’t want to be the sort of guy who had forsaken himself by being a total finance boffin for three years and nothing else. If my time was going to be used well I had to ascribe the appropriate value to it, and use apportion it to things according to that value. The value of my time rises and rises as the career takes hold, making my use of time more and more important.
I think that when you find an old note, or something else of that ilk, and find that on the one hand your immediate feeling is overpowering identification, but on the other hand an acknowledgement of how different your perceived identity is; you are compelled to try and close that gap, to cast away masks and facades and reconcile yourself to who you really are. I think that in some ways it’s ironic that as an accountant I am reputedly, or historically, considered to be a paragon of truth, prudence, and honesty; and yet the corporate mentality imposes a mask on me which is fundamentally untruthful to my own identity. I’m sure this is not the case for everyone, but I feel at times as if I am two different people. There’s the corporate me, who is incredibly outgoing, confident, friendly, direct, and then the real me, who is kind of quiet, bookish, reserved, and fundamentally indirect. This clash of identities, although it has no palpable mental effect, cannot surely be healthy.
Upon re-visiting this note things have been put into a more acute frame of reference, and I’m happy that a small thing like some scribblings in a book can give rise to this whole thought process. Now is the perfect time for me to begin branching out and working towards preparing myself for what comes next. I have plans, lots of them, and I need to work on cutting these down to a few achievable tasks and experiences. The difference is that this time I have the time to take my goals seriously. The perspective I attained scared me, and I can’t think of a much more jolting or effective motivator than fear.
So Good at Being in Trouble - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Living Architecture: India
Images from the book by Andreas Volwahsen published in 1969. [via]
The lights go down and he is plunged into darkness.
He gropes around for some kind of reference point in this void but it eludes him.
Suspended in space he takes tentative steps
His hands outstretched like some cataract christ in search of his cross.
Am I as much as being seen?