The reality of being unemployed past your thirties.

The reality of being unemployed past your thirties.

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In my twenties I hit the ground running, I was focused, zealous and fearless. Some would even say I ‘peaked’ too soon. I landed my dream job at the age of 23 and was on more money than my parents combined at 24, but by 25 it all came crashing down.

It wasn’t completely dire afterwards, though I had to rebuild. Everything I thought I knew was no longer. Everything that used to be, now was different. I went from co-hosting a Sydney radio breakfast show which had me interviewing celebrities and getting dressed up for red carpet events to someone who worked at a newsagents, a clothes shop and a jewelry store just to make her rent.

Eventually I got another job in radio, but it came with half the profile and therefore half the money: so I had to keep working one of my part-time gigs. I was also lucky enough to land a manager who booked me regular spots on national TV shows, which straight after I would run to the newsagents and be confronted by customers with “Didn’t I just see you on TV?”.

Slowly but surely and by that, I mean with a hell of a lot of persistence and tears, everything went back to the way it had been. Bigger radio and TV jobs came along. Some would even say I was ‘back on top’.

My point is, this definitely isn’t a bust out the violins story but, in my twenties, I thought I knew what it meant to struggle and to have ups and downs in my career.

Enter my thirties.

When I was 29, I left my life in Sydney and risked it all for a new, happier life in London. Looking back on it now I can understand why my friends were constantly saying “I don’t know how you’re doing this, I could never!” “Are you fucking mad?” “You brave bitch!” I was moving to a new city, with nowhere to live, no job prospects and no support network.

Also enter a new phase of my career, where I was basically starting all over again. I became familiar with the term the ‘British guard’ meaning: anything I did in Australia didn’t count unless I had done it in the UK. So, while I took meeting after meeting with different TV/production companies and radio stations, I was working in a pub earning a minimum wage of 6 pounds an hour, pouring beers, rolling cutlery and dodging mice.

I came over with some coin to get me started but the conversion rate at the time was shocking: so more than half of what I saved was just gone.

Yes, I should have researched more. Yes, I should have put aside more money before I left and I know I’m ultimately responsible for my own life, my own choices, my own actions and therefore my own shortcomings but in my (slight) defense: I was the first in my immediate family to do this. My Mum and Dad had just as much of a clue as I did. Cousins who had done it before did talk about their own ‘London war stories’ but they were from over a decade ago, and I guess if I had really looked into how fucking hard this was all going to be, I may have chickened out and never done it.

Blind hope and a little bit of that fearlessness that I had when I first moved to Sydney at the age of 21 was what I needed again at the age of 31.

So, slowly but surely (but with a hell of A LOT more persistence and tears this time) everything went back to the way it was, I started to get those TV and radio jobs again.

I bet you’re thinking that this is where the story ends but either there’s something wrong with me or the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’ really is true.

After 8 months of being ‘back in the game’ I was more miserable than I was when I first moved to London. I was working 14-hour days, 6-7 days a week, my time was filled with catering for the same narcissistic evil radio hosts I came to know and loathe in Sydney and my life was no different to what it was in Australia.

“Why was I here?” “What was I trying to prove?” “Was I really doing this for me? Or was I doing it to show those assholes back home that I could do it without them?” Even though the folklore goes that ‘they’ were ones responsible for my success overseas. *eye roll*

So, once again I packed it all in for the search of something more. I returned home to Australia. I was back under my parents’ roof. I was living in my childhood bedroom (that I shared with my nephew whenever he would sleep over).

I went on the dole. I then got a full-time job at the first radio station I ever worked at (which ignited that bright-eyed naive-of-sorts passion again).

I got my Italian passport. Cleared my credit card debt. Saved more money to come back over to London with (this time fully aware of what the f**king conversion rate was). Reconnected with my family and friends and prepared for London 2.0.

Initially, I thought I had ‘cracked the code’. Yep, thanks to my new-found research and life experiences London 2.0 was off to a much better start.

I aligned myself with recruitment agencies that got me work in environments that were not media-based. I was on better money. I had a better work-life-balance. I was home by 6pm every night. I didn’t work weekends. I had savings for the ‘just in case’ and most of my travels booked for the rest of the year were already paid for.

More importantly, I learnt that what I did for a job didn’t define me. I was kicking London in the dick.

So, I thought…

Unfortunately London 2.0 hasn’t also been without its psychotic flatmates and work contracts ending unexpectedly.

In the last few months, I was let go at work, forced to move out of the flat I was living in, put all my belongings into black plastic bags and have had them sitting at a friend’s place, while I rent out her Airbnb room.

I also had to finance two trips back home to Australia. In this time I applied for 60 jobs on LinkedIn alone and woke most mornings with the anxiety that if I don’t find a job soon, I would be homeless and broke in the very near future. Fun! Yeah, London 2.0 has been just as hard at times too.

The good news? I have finally secured another job and I’ll move into my new pad at the beginning of next month. Phew! Today also marks another year that I’ve survived this bad-ass city. Yaasss!!

So the real moral of the story is: while I was home back in Australia for those months in 2016, I witnessed my 60-year-old Dad get up every morning, look at the job vacancies online, check his emails (to find no response from any of the jobs he applied for the previous day), and muster up the courage to do it all over again: it nearly broke him.

There is something utterly soul-shattering when you find yourself unemployed past the age of 30. The constant putting yourself out there. The way your heart skips a beat and then sinks when you check your inbox.

The realisation that there’s now a much higher chance of someone younger and possibly more qualified than you going for the same role. The acknowledgement of how big the gap is getting from when you last did the job you love. But mostly, ignoring the constant feeling that you’re failing.

It got me real dark most days and I had to really try to find the quick wins in life. I can only imagine how my poor Dad felt during his period. If I was struggling with this at 30, what was going through his mind at 60?

The truth: I’d love to wrap this up with something hopeful and with the reassurance that everything is always going to be ok, but I didn’t have the courage or the energy to put this down on paper till I was employed again. It’s funny how that 9-5 life gives you that feeling of purpose and how necessary that is for your mental health and self-care.

So, I get it: if you’re going through this or have gone through this in the past, it’s hard to hear or take comfort in those words, especially when you’re in the thick of it.

The real truth: I can’t guarantee everything is going to be ok, no one can, in my experience it hasn’t always been.

Things that make it a hell of a lot easier? Take those FaceTime calls from your family (even when you can’t bear to actually ‘face’ them), have a good chin-wag with your nearest and dearest and get that ugly off your chest, have someone in your life that encourages you to remember all the things you should be grateful for and have those cups of peppermint tea on the reg.

One piece of advice:

‘If you drink to numb all the difficult things in life, you’ll numb all the good bits too.’

Remember, every next level of your life will determine a different you.

Peace out Kweens!

Stay strong.

Big love,

Carmela.

x

Introducing Carmela Contarino, the #PowerKween behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’ 👸🏻♥️✨

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

Guest Kween: AMY CLARKE “Am I Really Done With Kids?”

Guest Kween: AMY CLARKE “Am I Really Done With Kids?”

This question has been looming on my mind for the last few months: “Am I really done with kids?”. Even though my two critters have been pretty bloody tough work of late, I still feel like I’m not complete. My family may be, but am I?

Apart from the lack of sleep, I just LOVE newborns. I love their smell, their noises, their clothes, their non-smelly poos; but all kids grow up, and then the chaos begins. Most of the time I have about five out of seven good days with my little girl Pippa, who’s now ten months. She is a happy, content and a super cute baby. The other two days you’ll literally see me on the ground in the kitchen crying over a glass (or seven) of wine. I can’t say she’s any easier than my first born, Leo – now four – but I guess it does get easier and I can roughly understand what’s coming.

After the newborn phase, when your eyes feel like razorblades trying to shut and you are always hungry and feel like you’re constantly battling the flu, comes the cute six-nine months phase. They interact so much more, they are playful and I don’t know about you, but they start to sleep better (marginally). Pippa is a great sleeper, and I admit I’m lucky, but we worked hard on it. Yes, we did sleep training, and yes you’d find me crying too outside her door at 2am in the morning, but at eight months, she’s started to sleep through. So why the hell am I considering another child!? I am starting to get my life back now. I’m going out with friends, I’m working and having time to ‘myself’ has just arrived from whatever planet it came from and I can now enjoy things a lot more. Every day can be a challenge in some aspect, but I don’t let it stress me the way it used to with Leo as now I keep saying to myself “This’ll be the last time Amy, so enjoy it”. I mean, I can’t even really cuddle Pippa now unless she needs help to sleep or has hurt herself, so in a blink of an eye, that snuggly phase is over too.

So right now, my life is great. I’m the first Mum to drop off and last to pick my kids up from kindy because I love my alone time: whether be it working, lying on the couch watching Netflix or searching the internet for hours watching funny cat videos, and I really don’t miss my kids (too much) when they are gone. I’m not quite sure I can go back to three hourly feeds, mastitis and the uncertainty of whether or not I can leave the house that day.

So my question is, how do you know if you’re finished having kids? I see some friends with three, even four kids and they still manage to get through it all. I heard going from two to three kids is easier than one to two kids – is that true? I worry not having my Mum and Dad around (who sadly passed a while back) will make life harder? It’s the moments you truly need your parents around that I fear the most. I remember when Pippa was only three months old, and Leo and I both got gastro and it was terrible, like more terrible than any other common sickness. I was bed-ridden, so was he, and I can’t recall life being so hard. It was that one moment in my life that I really really needed my Mum. She would have been over in a heartbeat, cleaning up our mess and looking after us all but that is something I’ll never have, or experience, so that also adds to my dilemma.

I’ve heard that if you think you’re not done, you’re not done. My heart says I’m not, but my head says I am. I guess only time and my weekly income will tell. Let me know your thoughts!

Amy Clarke is a graphic designer, a mum and a bit of an all rounder kind of person. In between running two businesses from home, she attempts to manage a crazy household of kids, pets and chickens. Amy owns Confetti Rebels: which is a brand inspired by women for women, that allows her to be creative and also bring in a little extra income. She’s energetic, honest and sometimes a little crazy.

Kween Krush: YVIE JONES “You Must Trust Your Gut!”

Kween Krush: YVIE JONES “You Must Trust Your Gut!”

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Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Yvie, we’ve got a crush on you because simply, you have a heart of freaking gold! Not only do you spend most of your days caring for your housemate Tom but also your 6 dogs (most of which are rescues). Did we also mention you’re pee-your-pants funny? And lucky us, because we got to witness that weekly on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Australia’ with former housemate Angie from the Logie-winning Australian TV showGogglebox.

How did you, Tom and Angie all come to live together?

I had a crazy friend who was getting his masters at Sydney University and he saw an ad on the uni accommodation page offering free rent to two people who would live with a man with down syndrome as carers but act as just ‘housemates’ to him. His name is Tom. The set-up is so Tom can live independently, as he’d never survive a group home. He also has type 1 diabetes, which requires 24 hour care. I met with Tom and we decided to move in. He’s like a brother to me now. Oh, and it turned out that crazy friend was a bit too crazy, so we had to move him on. After living alone with Tom for a year, I roped Angie into moving in. It was pretty hard on her; it’s a hard situation. But she’s done so well and I absolutely love living with her, she keeps me sane and our relationship is incredible. If we could, we’d be lesbians. But you can’t choose your sexuality, can you!

Lol! So, how different is your life from 3 years ago? Highs? Lows? Struggles?

To be honest, not very different at all! Yes, we have 2 Logies, but we don’t get to attend the awards and you only get to hold the statue for half an hour – dumb. Highs have been my relationships. Angie and I have been forced to watch TV shows that we may not necessarily have ever watched, so therefore we’ve talked about things that have really opened our eyes and because of that, we’ve become so close and have a massive understanding of each other. Angie and I get recognised in the streets, which is wonderful. People are just so lovely. We also get told stories by some that we have given them many laughs and they don’t feel lonely anymore, or the only time they smile is when they sit on their couch and watch us. It’s incredibly humbling. Lows? My mum died less than a year ago and that saw my floor falling away beneath me. I’ve never felt that kind of pain before. And it just stays with you. I just wish I could pick up the phone and call her. I struggle with depression (have for most of my life) and I’m honestly glad I’ve had so much therapy and read so many good books on how to deal with depression, because it’s really helped me deal with my grief for my mum.

Does it make you laugh to think your Mum told you, “You won’t get famous sitting on the couch watching TV?”

When I got ‘Gogglebox’, she was the first person I told and I said, “Do you remember saying that?” She rolled her eyes (as only a mum can) and said “This could only happen to you”.

Bless. Now, we’ve forgotten, your other 6 housemates. The dawwwgs. What made you decide to rescue dogs? And why should other people/families do it?

One day I went to my friend’s birthday lunch at Hugos in the Cross (not there anymore, thanks lockout laws) and I was seated next to a woman who worked for the RSPCA and she was the one who busted ‘puppy mills’. I didn’t know there was such a thing! The stories she told me and the statistics she reeled off had me in tears. I knew from that moment I had to do something. Fostering was the best fit for me. Tom absolutely loves dogs and we have a good house with a backyard. We rescue/foster through Paws and Recover who mostly get calls from emergency departments of people who have OD’d , as well as calls from police stations where dogs have been left behind after a domestic violence incident. Until Paws and Recover came along, there were no charities doing this. Pets would die alone at home because no one knew they were there. Anyone with a safe home, and a love for helping dogs can foster. And if you think ‘but I’d be too heartbroken to let them go’, put your feelings aside and think about the needs of the dog. And if you love the dog that much, then adopt him!

What’s around the corner for you? Musicals? Pantomimes? Cabaret shows? Karaoke competitions?

All of those! I’d really like to get into radio or ‘chat TV’; where it’s me being me. Some acting on our great ABC or SBS programmes has always been a dream of mine. I did go to drama school, so I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.

That’s the 5 year plan?

Yep, doing some or all of the above! And still fostering dawgs. Maybe fall in love with a male feminist???

What does being a feminist mean to you?

Being a feminist to me means believing in equal rights for women. Being treated exactly the same as a man and any good or bad that comes with that. Believing girls can be anything that boys can be.

What’s one thing you would tell ‘younger Yvie’?

Stop dieting. Anything you’re waiting to do ‘once you’ve lost weight’, just do it! And don’t give a fuck what others think, even those closest to you. You must trust your gut.

📸: @yvie_jones

🐦: @yviejones

F: @yvie

Yvie is one of Carmela’s favourite people. They met many years ago in the bathrooms of a record label quiz night; it was love at first sight. They bonded over finding male-unicorns, the movie ‘Beaches’ and a good late-night kebab. 

Guest Kween: ANDIE TICKNER “The Roar Truth!”

Guest Kween: ANDIE TICKNER “The Roar Truth!”

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I stayed in a job that killed my soul.
In fact I stayed in many.
This has nothing to do with the jobs.
It has everything to do with my soul.

My calling.
My path, I’m here to walk in life.
The truth is, I waited far too long.
God knows I had the wake up calls.


They started gentle.
But then they got rough.
The universe showing me that there was an alternative.
Time and time again.
But I chose not to listen.


I thought I’d be able to handle it.
Command the energy to walk through those doors every day and bring my best.
Continue to work longer hours and give my all.


To sacrifice myself for a consistent pay cheque.
Sacrifice my happiness rather than face the fear of the unknown.
Sacrifice my health and mental state because I was too scared to leave.
Continue to fool myself that I could make it work.
Because that’s what we do right?

Until I was done.

Until I knew enough was enough.
Crippled with anxiety.
Overcome with confusion.
Looking for another way. Any way.
Going to the darkest of places.
Struggling to sleep.
Running on empty.
Unable to see the possibilities or ways out.
Until I had no choice but to make a choice.
A life worth living or a life of this?

So I chose a life worth living.

I chose to listen to my heart and follow my purpose.
My passion.
To make a choice to show up as me.
To speak my truth.
To live the life I desire.
To back myself and give it a go.
To step into the unknown.
To live without regrets and what if.
To choose myself.

Did it happen overnight?
Hell no.

Do I have it all figured out?
No.

Were there moments of self doubt and fear?
Yes absolutely. I still get them.

Can I always see the road ahead?
No.

Am I happy?
YES!

Gone is the stress, anxiety, darkness, unhealthy habits and bad relationships.
In its place is someone who is the happiest, calmest and most alive they’ve ever been.
If you find yourself thinking…. that sounds like me.

I promise you, it is easier than you think to make a change.
And guess what? The people and opportunities that come into your world when you align with who you really are and are ready to stand up and speak your truth… well they are just INCREDIBLE.

Check out Andie Tickner’s one woman empire below.

The Roar Truth

www.theroartruth.com

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