On staying put (sometimes bravery is overrated)

I suppose it’s normal to start a new job with feelings of trepidation and uncertainty. You’re nervous but hopeful, not sure what to expect but keen to give anything a go. You wrote about your dedication and enthusiasm on your CV so you’re going to make damn sure they don’t see through the lies exaggeration. You smile and nod like the dog from the Churchill advert and hope you’re doing enough to make a good impression. And if you don’t like something? Tough. You’re the intern. That’s your lot.

When, on my second day at work, my supervisor circled four consecutive weeks on my desk calendar and told me I’d be leaving Paris to go filming for all of them, I grinned enthusiastically and diligently noted the dates down in my diary. “Oh, that’s so exciting!”, people would chorus when I told them about my upcoming adventure. Of course. Silly me. It was exciting. And so I proceeded to spend six weeks telling people how excited I was, all the while swallowing my thoughts of I Really Don’t Want To Do This.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to travel around France and see places I’d never been before: I did, and I do. It wasn’t that I wasn’t completely and utterly intrigued to see what life is like on a TV set: I was, and I am. It wasn’t that I doubted my ability to do my job properly. I just really, really didn’t want to leave Paris.

(I’ve been here for six weeks and that’s the longest I’ve spent in one place so far in 2016. January in Leipzig. February in England. March in Lyon. Paris since the start of April. All of this moving around has made staying in one place seem incredibly appealing. The simple things.)

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It was only really this week – a week of evenings spent meeting up with friends and running along the Seine – that I realised just how much my “I’m so excited” attitude was a facade. And so, faced with a choice between The Brave Thing of just going anyway and The Other Brave Thing of trying to get out of it, I chose the latter. On what ought to have been my final day in the office for four weeks, I admitted to a colleague that I didn’t want to go at all.

I’d imagined I’d probably be fired on the spot and spend the next six weeks embracing (f)unemployment, perhaps finally writing my year abroad essay in Parisian libraries and trying not to spend any money at all. Either that or I’d be laughed at and told I didn’t really have a choice. What actually did happen came as a complete surprise: they smiled, and listened, and understood. Arrangements were made for someone to replace me, and I was assured there would be plenty for me to do in the office instead. I wish I’d asked sooner.

My year abroad ends in six weeks and I am so delighted to be spending all of them here in this lovely city, in our wonderful little flat with friends to see and things to do. I’m a wimp, yes, but a happy wimp.

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One Comment

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  1. Loved your post. You’re so fortunate that your boss listened to you and understood. I recently experienced a heartless, horrible boss who fired me cause I needed to go to court even though I had told him in advance and he approved. However, now I have time to go to Paris If I want to. Cheers!


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