I was very upset at the time we had to choose A-Levels because I was not allowed to mix Maths and Physics with Art and English. These subjects gave me a lot of pleasure and still do.
I spent the years after my Engineering degree trying to keep my many interests going. Night school improved my French and German. Weekends I worked on my writing, drawing and painting. I even found time to design and build my own computer, to play war games. I got my MSc in Computer Science. Part time. And started to line up a PhD. It would also have been part time.
Then life took over.
I am now a lot nearer to incontinence pads than nappies. I recently rediscovered a reservoir of creative juice. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I worked as a Consulting Engineer for a few years after graduation, but I soon got bored. You just can't be creative enough in many Engineering jobs. So I switched to software. This too, has run it's course, for reasons which will become clear.
So why am I making such a dramatic career switch, do I hear you ask? Good question. At my vintage, career is not in the vocabulary. I really just want to do work that keeps me interested and motivated and happy and that will be appreciated and valued. This is just not going to happen. And it is coupled with an environment which is both hostile and unhealthy. I have had it with bosses. One really good one in 40+ years is not a great record.
And I have to do something that will not get me stressed, because really bad things happen to me when I am stressed. I am genuinely fearful that I will have a stroke or heart attack.
Reviving my art was going to be a long term thing that I could build up as a hobby. Something I could do when I am no longer able get up at 6am to commute. But I have spent the last 5 years with at least one boss who has actively and relentlessly interfered with my work environment. His lowest act was to install someone to sit next to me for several weeks, This person was his willing mouthpiece and a monitor. He manufactured leading conversations and then reported on me. While pretending to be mates. LinkedIn was the topic when I cut myself off from it because of targetted interference with my account. Another shameful period of interest attempted to discover if I had ever been diagnosed with a certifiable mental illness. Sick bastards.
There are numerous examples of manipulation and interference over the years. And many others have joined in. One, very obvious, tactic has been to get everyone to behave like they are my best mate. Like I can't tell it is artifical behaviour. This has made me a centre of attention, something that a devout introvert like myself totally hates. (And you probably don't actually understand what being introvert means, you just think you do.) It puts me in a position where I cannot trust, or believe, anyone. Not even my own judgement. It has really messed with my willingness to form normal relationships. And that makes me look odd. It also affected my ability, and willingness, to perform at work. This has given a false impression of me and what I am capable of.
The main, everyday, consequence of this treatment, has meant it has been open season on me. Getting people to be nice, and telling them things that should not have been discussed, makes me look pathetic. And folk being what are, they think they scent the blood of easy prey. Many believe they can do what they want. Like talk about me within earshot, as if I am not there, but clearly taking the piss. Sometimes openly taking the piss. Exaggerated "friendly" behaviour that is, quite frankly, ridiculous, but pretty aggressive. Attacks, and interference, on blogs and web sites. Multiple abuses of my email address by different people at different times for different reasons. Multiple abuses of my mobile and household phone numbers also by different people at different times for different reasons. To the point that I had to change my mobile phone. And renew my internet presence. Did I mention the passive-aggessive behaviour? And being watched? The list just goes on and on.
Messing about with my personal relationships is bad enough, but the same interfering and controlling behaviour has been governing my work content. Like the entire development team I was in taking themselves off to a 3-day development conference without including me. A clear message, if ever I saw one. Me getting shunted from pillar to post and being told by my boss that he has no control and can't make any promises, when it is clear that this is a lie. I have now spent years having my chain pulled. It is pretty obvious there have been machinations going on, which quite possibly, cannot be undone. Once you start with the bullshit and the lies it is hard to backtrack
I don't know what you can call it, but it certainly isn't management. Management is about creating an environment in which people can deliver their best. It is not about manipulating people or situations. You should be honest and open and build trust and understanding. You don't get others to do your job. You don't make assumptions. You don't decide you know what's best if you are ignorant. If you want to know something about an individual then you talk to them yourself. You should make an effort to understand individuals. If you never talk to them you will never understand them and you will struggle to get the best out of them. You have to get people on side before you start messing with them. If you don't listen you will never begin to understand. The bigger the company the more the whisper effect comes into play. In these situations a lot of people get information second hand. Opinion, rumour, gossip take the place of facts. It is open to abuse. You have someone who doesn't like you and it is likely you will be tarred and feathered.
It continues relentlessly. A significant incident happened as recent as about a month or so back. This individual, with whom I have never previously had a conversation, was pretending to be my best mate. And making a big deal of being buddy senior citizens. But he was obviously phishing, under orders. Trying to find out my pension and retirement plans. Whatever happened to the art of conversation?
I feel deeply uncomfortable and get very stressed about this kind of behaviour. It produces physical pain and anxiety attacks. Both reactions are legacies from my time at the Employer from Hell. There have been two major stress related incidents in the past month. On the first I had to have a week off ill because the pain was so bad. During the second one I was told it is my fault this happens. I am too sensitive, apparently. Empathy. Boy, I don't know.
Enough is enough.
So here I am. Welcome to my new career. Starting with art, something I have a better start with than writing. But I do want to write, too. I love the escapism that both activities provide. And the pleasure and satisfaction of creating something new. No doubt this time next year the turkey will have to be substituted by a dripping butty. But hey, musn't grumble. Besides, I like dripping butties.
Help and advice is appreciated. Especially advice from practising artists. I wish my little sister was still alive to tell me how she did it. She was a printmaker, photographer and painter based in Polgigga and Sennen Cove, her final resting place.
Anyway, musn't grumble....best get weaving. 2017 beckons.