Here I am, 2.5 years after leaving the UK, moving “back” to Germany, and I still find myself in Limbo.
Why? Because I am unemployable.
After 19 years in the UK with 6 years of studies there, a CV with a long list of amazing and worthwhile jobs and projects I worked at and was involved in, plenty additional training to keep up to date and widen my horizon, all of which I can just about reduce to 2 pages by leaving out huge amounts and reducing the font size to just about legible – all of it means nothing here.
It carries no weight, it has zero traction, it amounts to nothing. My professional life and work experience in the UK adds up to nothing here in Germany. It is meaningless. I am invisible. There is not even the chance to dazzle them with my charms because I don’t get a foot in the door.
To continue working in the same position as I did in the UK I would have to go back to university for several years and even then it would be difficult, as my options for employed work in my field of study/expertise in this country are close to zero. There are clear national guidelines of what anyone working with people should bring along with them in terms of training and education, and if you don’t have that then it’s a ‘no’ and my British qualifications are not being recognised here. . There are no loopholes, no exceptions, no way to stock up on the things you need to reach the required qualification, no nothing.Being self-employed also is a complex and costly option here.
I have been looking to just find work to get by, but here jobs in supermarkets or a local bakery are usually carried out as mini-jobs at minimum wage and the employer doesn’t pay any of the social insurances (pension/health care/unemployment/etc.)
I have taken on a mini-job like this for now. I am an assistant teacher for English at a school (and I did look into becoming a teacher, which would take 3 years full-time study, 2 years for practical placements before I am fully fledged, and while I love working with the kids and enjoy it very much, I don’t really want to do that. The kids and my colleagues are wonderful and really appreciate my work, sadly the school cannot expand my contract to up my hours.
I used to do some temping work before I moved to the UK to study, and I loved it! The jobs were fantastic! I was like Mary Poppins, coming in, putting out fires, dazzling everyone with my work and then flew off to the next exciting job. Sadly, these kind of assignments don’t exist anymore because the agencies who run these temping contracts nowadays are not what they were 20+ years ago.
A meeting with highly recommended business advisers has me left badly bruised as they were keen to solve my employment conundrum rather than helping me explore how to set up a business. They couldn’t believe that things are the way they are, and were adamant that I should try put myself out there. It really set me back, I am still recovering from that experience.
I have been looking into the option to go self-employed, but after so many years in the UK it is hard to understand the German bureaucracy and I am still looking to get solid advice and support before I can even consider to go this way.
I am so frustrated and tired, I feel so useless and deskilled, angry and old. My work in the UK has been my vocation, my calling, it was my life. I have lost my life in a way that feels irretrievable. My identity, my sense of self, who I am, who I was – it is gone. And after every knock-back I pick myself back up and get back into the ring to try and take the broken pieces, polish them, warm them, glue them back together, and try and hang on to me. To who I am. To what I know.
Without having this part of my life hooked up I remain in limbo, a Brexit-induced purgatory. It’s like not being able to fire on all cylinders, the engine is stuttering, my engine is stuttering and I can’t reach my maximum speed and range and I also can’t deliver the power to run the work I have to do, I know I am able to do.
Every now and then when someone says, “Oh, but you moved, haven’t you? Brexit doesn’t affect you anymore, no?” I am thinking “You have no idea.”
It has killed my very core. It infected it with the abysmal referendum campaign, the lies and the double standards, it has slowly poisoned it and now it’s dead.
And I stand over the lifeless pieces, trying to find meaning in all of this.
Meaning for my life.
Because, what am I without it? A life without meaning, what’s the point of that?
Heart-broken EU-Citizen with German roots and a Scouse soul
First published June 2020
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