Choose Lagos: My Last Night in Portugal

Choose Lagos: My Last Night in Portugal

Around three months have gone by since I last updated in here, which just goes to show that the best laid plans don’t always turn out the way you expect. I’m sure if I re-read any of those previous entries I would find some kind of written commitment to update ‘on a regular basis’, probably even a promise to keep track of what I did over those three months. Alas – I failed, although I did more or less do what I expected to do over the summer – go to Lagos, party, hit the beach a lot, get a tan and have a good time. See that picture up there? That was my last night in Lagos. I’m in the yellow top. I’m sure I was pretty drunk already when that picture was taken.

Anyway, I DID write while I was there – a bit – I just didn’t blog. Or tweet much. 

The rest of the plan which I so confidently wrote about back in May has not worked out quite as I expected. I’m not saying that as a bad thing at all, it’s just that I have to now eat a bit of humble pie and tell you that instead of going straight back to Spain and embarking on another intrepid year of teaching and learning Spanish, I came home to England instead.

It’s a long story. Or, it’s kind of a long story. There were many reasons for coming home:

  • Homesickness,
  • Financial bits and bobs,
  • Other obligations. 

‘Other obligations’ covers a lot, believe me. Since I got back I’ve filled in tax forms, had a dental checkup (with much trepidation beforehand as it was long overdue and I was fully expecting a mouthful of cavities – happily, my teeth are fine), sorted my finances (somewhat and only temporarily), gone to Notting Hill Carnival where I ate Jamaican curry and danced like a loon, made it to my friend’s leaving party (my friend has moved to Scotland to start a new job), watched season one of Gossip Girl and Dollhouse, lounged about at my parents’ in Somerset for a while, and – oh yes – launched myself into job hunting with a vengeance.

The job market in England being what it is at the moment, I am gritting my teeth and not allowing myself to be disappointed when I get a ‘no’ back, or when I don’t get anything back. When I was working as a receptionist before I went to Spain I was trying to keep my options open by looking for another job at the same time. I applied for jobs, but I didn’t really try. I wasn’t submitting enough applications and I got way too down on myself when I didn’t get any results.

I think I was wallowing, just slightly. I admit it. I let myself off the hook, gave up because I wasn’t getting anywhere. I’m dealing with it differently this time – methodically submitting applications as frequently as I can manage, looking for jobs from many varied sources (most of them online), not being so darned fussy, constantly revising my CV and template covering letters, tweaking them every time I apply. I invest a lot of effort in my applications, especially in the covering letters. It’s partly because in a sick, twisted way I actually enjoy the process of crafting a cover letter, even if it is just one out of a hundred I’ll probably write before I get anywhere. It’s also because I know I could do better each time.

I’m a relentless self-editor and spend a lot of time re-reading pretty much everything I write and retouching it. From this blog entry to each and every one of my cover letters, nothing I start writing is the same once I’m finished with it. The only exception is when I’m writing in my diary, which I do by hand. I find it interesting to read over old entries because they are so raw and unpolished, usually a stream of whatever is in my head at the time that needs to be let out. Sometimes before I start writing I think of a phrase I want to use or how I want to start, and usually within the first minute I’ve gone off in another direction entirely. That’s what I love about the creative process, the way it takes hold of you, the way you can lose yourself in it entirely. I love the fact that for whatever I write that gets polished – if not to perfection, then at least to a passable imitation – there is always going to be a page of raw handwriting somewhere which reflects what’s going on inside. That’s why I think of myself as a writer, and probably always will, whether I get published or not.

So relating that back to writing cover letters, maybe one day I will write the perfect one. Either way, I hope that this time around my patience and upgraded tenacity pays off in the hunt for a job. The market was reported to be picking up a bit according to BBC News the other night, but I’m guessing that it’ll still be a while before it gains any real momentum. At least things are looking up, anyway. For now myself and the millions of other unemployed people in the country will have to stick at it and bring back the old British stiff-upper-lip while we weather it out.

Not that being unemployed has to be completely unpleasant. Right now, for example, I am sitting in an armchair in my parents’ house in Somerset – Blackmoor in the Blackdown Hills, to be exact – listening to The Shins and the sound of the little waterfall in the garden pond. I’m cat and house-sitting for the weekend, but I’m not complaining. This weekend is exactly what I needed, another mini-holiday (although don’t worry, I’m not slacking off, I’m definitely job hunting while I’m here!). I’m in the countryside. The weather is glorious. The view from the kitchen window is breathtaking. The sunrises are spectacular. The days are relaxing and I’m thinking a lot, writing a lot … it’s amazing how content I feel here.

There is room here to reflect, and I have found, through reflection, that actually I’m not worried about being unemployed and back in England. I came back for a reason and I do love my country, but apart from that, it’s okay that my grand plan for the year hasn’t exactly, well, gone to plan. So I didn’t make it back to Spain, I didn’t end up teaching for another year. I’ll deal with it! I got a lot of very valuable experience from being in Spain and Portugal, and let me tell you, I’m milking it on my CV. It wasn’t just work experience that I gained, either – I had an immense amount of fun, took hundreds of pictures, made some really good friends and learned a great deal about myself along the way. I would love to do more travelling and possibly more EFL teaching abroad, so I’ll just see what happens and when. For now though I’m happy to be back home for a while with my family, my friends and my cats.

Speaking of my cats, I think it’s time I went and fed them (as I write this it’s 17.05, their usual feeding time, although of course I will probably upload this onto my blog a few hours later), but I just wanted to say hey. I’m still here, I’m still going to update  – Drifting Astray is not dead, nor is its author. I’ll keep you posted.

— Rosie