Today I had a lovely time with a mentor/friend. What made it nice for me is it didn’t degenerate into a mission to get me a job. When I see so many people in my chosen field at the moment any conversation turns into “Have you tried *insert person or place here* yet?” or “Why don’t you…?”. Well, in most cases I either have already tried the suggestion being made and not been successful or is something that I just do not want to pursue. Now, before you start thinking me to be a horrible person, I am aware that people only make suggestions to be helpful or because they care about my well being. I am grateful for that, however…. The conversation often stalls when I say something like “thanks for that suggestion but I’ve already tried it and been unsuccessful” or “I don’t think that would be for me”. It gets awkward, I feel like either a total failure when I get the sympathetic head-tilt or like I am being super picky when I get a stony silence.
I know you didn’t ask for it but here is my advice for all people reading this who have friends or loved ones currently between jobs or trying to change careers: ask them first if they would like to talk about the current change in career and then if they say yes, ask them what they have already tried, or who they have already spoken to first. It saves both time and accidental hurt feelings on both sides.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise that was the source of so many little niggles when I have been talking to some really nice people who just want to help until I was with someone in that field and it didn’t happen. My guard has gone up in those situations and I am sorry if I got snippy with anyone previously. I’m working on ways to gracefully change the subject in future.
The chat that I did have covered most of the “should not be talked about over coffee” topics, we covered death, religion, relationships. I think the only taboo topic not touched on was politics. But what made it great is that it was so comfortable. We didn’t have to agree on things to engage with the topics (although we often did). I hope everyone finds someone that they can talk to in that way, it is quite refreshing.