What’s your wage?

umzila kawulandelwa
7 min readFeb 6, 2023

What a day! Hello, friend. :)

Today was my first day at work after a three month career break. I resigned from my old job without a plan. I was frustrated with the ridiculously long hours and other things that I figured quitting was the best option even though I didn’t have another job lined up. October 31 was the last day at my old job.

I was in that job for one year and ten months. And that’s the longest I’ve stayed in the same job since I started working back in March 2014. Almost 9yrs ago! Sure I was frustrated in my old job but to be honest it wasn’t just that job I was frustred with. I was frustrated with myself, frustrated with my non existent career.

I’d been working for so long but I still couldn’t say I had a career to speak of. I had a series of jobs not a career and all those jobs were not leading me to anything. Or so I thought.

I remember what a failure I felt like when I turned 29. That was when I quit social media. I couldn’t bear to look at everyone’s shiny life and especially shiny careers. I thought a good career would be my reward for finishing a degree I didn’t even want to begin with. I thought the universe would at least give me a decent career for enduring my years of undergrad. But nope. That wasn’t the case.

I generally get jobs easier than most people. I had a professional writer prepare my CV for me then years of therapy have helped with my confidence so I interview really well. Even when I quit my job I wasn’t worried about getting another job. I just knew I’d get one. The issue was just what job I’d get. I was sure I would find something.

I studied Accounting then went on to do a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration. My desire ever since I got this degree has been to leave Accounting so that should explain why I did a postgrad in Business Administration and not Accounting. The plan was to dilute that Accounting with something more general.

Unfortunately for me as much as I hated Accounting I still got jobs in that field. I passed my Bachelors with 50s and therefore doubted myself as an Accountant. I wouldn’t even call myself an Accountant. I felt like that was a title reserved for people who loved Accounting AND passed their degrees with better marks than I did. Not me. I let my academic transcript define me for years after I graduated.

But then after I left my job I wasn’t under pressure to go back to work so I got thinking about my career. Surely that wasn’t all there was to it? I had a series of jobs in Accounting and Administrative tasks it wasn’t clear what exactly it is I wanted to do.

To be honest until then, there wasn’t anything I was actively working towards in my career. I just took jobs for the money without thinking of how that impacted where I would go. I had no direction. I was working for the sake of working no big picture in place.

So in my time off I got super introspective about my career and what it is I actually wanted to do with my life. I love journaling and I find that I make sense of the world better when I write things down. I found journal prompts on line on how to build a career, figuring out what my values are in relation to work, what drives me etc.

I spent a lot of time just writing. Perhaps that is the beauty of being voluntarily unemployed. It frees up the mind to focus on other things with all that pressure taken off. It was excellent use of my time! I came up with this conclusion: if I was going to stay in Accounting I would get into Project Accounting and if I made a career switch I’d get into Business Analysis.

So I enrolled into a Business Analysis course and started applying for project accounting roles. I quickly realized that I truly enjoyed working with numbers a lot more than I realized when I started the Business Analysis course. Turns out I get a real kick out of number crunching so Business Analysis wasn’t that interesting to me cos of the sheer lack of numbers!

I honestly don’t understand what I would do with myself if I went to work and didn’t do some number crunching. Oh wait. I have had a job like that. I hated it with all my heart but it wasn’t until recently that I realized why I hated it so much.

Well, the career break was really for that. To just pause and think, “wait a min. What the hell am I even doing here?!”

The fact that I ever ended up in that job devoid of any number crunching is proof of the thoughtlessness that went into my job search. I was literally just applying for and accepting offers for any and every job that offered more money without considering if it was adding value to me or not. One thing I’m learning about myself. I can get whatever job I want. So my only question should always be, “does that job support the big picture?” Narrator: she had no big picture.

I’m so glad I took this break. It had it’s challenges, NEVER QUIT A JOB WITHOUT A PLAN Y’ALL!! It’s so darn expensive!!! But that aside, if you can take a break- do it! I got to think about my big picture, what I want for my future self, how a job can help me get there, what job would be ideal for me etc. For the first time in my life there was careful thought that went into my job search. I had time to fix my CV to highlight the skills needed to get into the jobs I wanted.

And guess what?! All the hard work paid off! I landed a job as project accountant for an NGO based in London! I will however be working remotely from Johannesburg. Yes, the job is 100% remote and they gave me a 35% salary increase from my last job!

Listen. This time the universe rewarded me for my hard work and gave me extras even. A remote job has been a dream I couldn’t even dare to dream of. No kidding. I’m always surprised to hear people in SA say they are looking for a remote job. I mean, companies that are doing remote jobs are SO few that if a jobseeker says they are applying for remote jobs only I feel like they aren’t serious about their job search. The best SA has given us is hybrid jobs. Not 100% remote ones. So when applying for a job one should realistically expect a hybrid set up.

But I got one. When I wasn’t even looking for it! And I choose when I would like to start work. Early last year I wrote in my journal that my ideal work day is one that starts at 10am. I noticed that on days I needed to take time off work for whatever reason I started my day at 10am. I’m not a morning person so 10am is when I start to feel awake. So now I get to start at 10am!! And I don’t sit in traffic anymore! If I didn’t know any better I’d think all this was a dream. It feels too good to be true!

The lesson for me in all of this is that life gives us exactly what we ask for. Each time I applied for and accepted offers for administrative jobs (cos I didn’t think I was good enough for finance roles) that paid me less than I was worth it was the universe giving me exactly what I was asking for. I did not believe in myself so I asked very little of myself and each time the universe said yes and gave me what I asked for.

When I changed my requests the universe again said yes and gave me what I asked for and more. The problem was never the universe. It was me. I was scared and moving like a scared person so I kept getting what scared people get. I took a risk and quit my job and used my time off to ask the universe for more and better for me and the universe delivered.

Today has been such a happy day for me I had to write about it so when the bad days come, and they will come, I can look back and be reminded that I am living in an answered prayer. I prayed for this moment. When I deleted all my social media accounts at 29 I had to silence all the noise so I could hear this Sanele.

I am so, so grateful for this moment. Grateful for all it’s taken me to get here. I am not late to my own life. Everything is happening right on time. I don’t wish I had reached this clarity of mind at 23. At 23 I was busy learning lessons that would lay the foundation for my 32yr old self to come and learn this lesson now. EVERYTHING has happened accordingly and I thank God for that.

This is a very sweet moment for me and this is me taking time out to just savor it!

Note to self

I am taking a moment to just say to myself, well done baby girl. You have worked so damn hard to get here! And while there is still so much more I’d like to achieve. I’m taking a moment to say well done my precious. This is for myself and for the late love of my life whose immeasurable faith in me could move mountains. I know he would be SO proud of me!

I’ll leave you with this poem which I’m challenging you to think deeply about.

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse (1869–1948)

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umzila kawulandelwa

I tell stories about my experience of being alive. Perpetually day dreaming of reading and writing by the beach