8 years on and I’m still stuck in a rut.

It’s been a little over a month since I started my new job and suffice to say, it has erased all the doubt in my head of being able to find a decent job again. After 7 years of working the graveyard shift, I’d chosen a day shift job and by chance, the company allows a 3-hour flexi-schedule. This allows me to come into work anytime between 7am and 10am and so I’ve chosen the former; but I digress.

Not too long ago, I read an entry from a blog I frequently follow and was immediately drawn to it because I felt like I was reading up on my life, through the eyes and words of another blogger. Like her, I fell in love with New Zealand but so much so that she broke my heart when I was asked to leave. But unlike Trisha, eight years on and my heart is still broken, and I am still not over it and unlike her, me being asked to leave was my own fault.

Entirely my fault.

After I graduated with a Diploma in Tourism from Unitec, I was given a one-year work permit and instead of working in tourism, I settled for a part-time job at Vodafone. My boss knew that I was there on a work permit, and ensured that he would provide assistance with my paperwork that would allow me to work permanently in New Zealand.

Fault 1: I relied on his words and didn’t look for a job related to my diploma.

By then, I was living comfortably in a flat in Auckland with 2 of my best friends. I had a car, a life, bought items as investments as I had no intention of leaving New Zealand. I was involved with the art community in Auckland and frequently attended gallery openings and events and even co-founded an artist-run group called Crossover. I was well into my photography and my sister was about 2-3 hours drive away and life was just amazing.

Fault 2: I forgot to lock the safe that kept all the day’s takings and phones after a solo shift.

It was that one time that I became absent-minded and forgot to do the most important thing when closing up the store. My boss suspended me the next day, and then let go of me the following day. It was all fitting though. Weeks prior to that event, he had already mentioned of how much it would cost the business to assist me with a permanent work visa and that things were getting tight in terms of budget. I still had a few months left on my work permit and thought I’d start looking for another job after my brother’s wedding.

Fault 3: When my passport was stamped with a work permit, I failed to secure a work visa.

I was naive in not doing this. I flew out of the country to attend my brother’s wedding in January of 2011 and when I flew back to Auckland, I was stopped at immigration because I didn’t have a valid work visa. I was given two options: to look for a job that would assist me in getting a work visa, or leave in a month.

I spent the next two days in a panic, doing job searches, emailing and reaching out to companies that would help me but in the end, I ended up giving up. I started selling everything online, from my bed, to my PC and eventually my car. The day after I sold my bed, I woke up on the floor in my sleeping bag and I just felt numb. I looked around my room and everything was in boxes and for the first time since I made that decision to leave, I felt a profound sadness and I let myself cry.

It hurt like hell. In my 28 years of life, I had already felt all sorts of pain. As a two-year old girl, I had a hot iron placed on my right hand and at boarding school in Australia, I had bounced off a high-jump mat and sprained my ankle so much that I had to stay in the infirmary for 2 weeks. My parents split up when I was 7 and I’ve had my heart ripped and torn to pieces in my teens and at uni. But this was a different kind of pain.

I found myself walking down from my flat on Symonds Street and onto Queen Street, not really knowing where to go and what to do, and I found myself at a tattoo parlour. I was in need to feel a different kind of pain and so getting a tattoo seemed fitting.

It took forever to choose a tattoo. I wanted to feel the pain but at the same time I needed it to mean something. I must’ve asked the tattooist a ton of questions but finally arrived at a tattoo that symbolised a new life and new beginnings. From that day, and the days leading up to my departure, I would wake up, look at my left arm, and remind myself that all this is for a new life and I needed to embrace my new beginning.

So how has it been, 8 years on?

I’m still stuck. They always say that you shouldn’t live life full of regrets but it’s cliche and it’s something easier said than done. But I am alive, and I am still making do of what I have here. I know that if I really wanted to leave, then I’d work my butt off to do just that, despite the circumstances. And I am still working at it, albeit turning 36 in a few months.

So while I’m still here in this country, I’m going to try the best that I can with the job that I have and just make sure that 8 years doesn’t turn into 10 years, or 12… or 16.




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