Inspirational Women: Chantelle Campbell

Last night I watched Rebuilding the World Trade Center, a documentary made about the rebuilding of the towers that fell in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Using time-lapse photography and interviews with the construction workers, the documentary gave an insight into the love and passion that those workers have for rebuilding the World Trade Center, most seeking inspiration from their fathers and grandfathers, who helped build the original towers.  Anyway, while this IS an inspirational blog, it’s a blog about women, so I’d like to focus on one of the two women featured in the documentary, Chantelle Campbell.

Chantelle was working as a secretary in a building next to the original World Trade Center, the day the towers fell, although she wasn’t due to start work until 12pm, so thankfully was not in the building at the time.  She recalls how her job involved her “looking nice” but that after 9/11, she wanted to do something she could be passionate about.  So she made the huge change in career, becoming a concrete carpenter.  Chantelle says a lot of female carpenters are happy doing light work, and fetching coffee, but she says, “I want to be seen on the same level as the men… I don’t have the type of personality where I’m going to back down. That gets me a lot of respect.”*

Chantelle is a prime example of someone who decided to quit her job and seek a new career, in what is still very much a man’s world.  As well as being a woman doing a demanding, physical job, she is also a black woman.  Having recently read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, a fictional story about the wealthy white southern women and the appalling treatment of their African-American housekeepers during the 1960s, based on the author’s own experiences as a white girl growing up in the Southern USA with a black “mammy” (a black woman who cooks, cleans and raises the children), it is inspiring to think that Chantelle was able to work outside the domestic sphere in an office, let alone in the male-dominated world of construction.

Like many of the workers interviewed in the documentary who are second- and third-generation construction workers and owe their passion for rebuilding the World Trade Center to their fathers and grandfathers, Chantelle says that she wants her children and grandchildren to know that she helped rebuild the World Trade Center.  I too, want my children to be inspired by what I’ve achieved.  My female relatives have definitely inspired me in a lot of ways, but I know they have not achieved that elusive career to be passionate about.

 

Because Chantelle used to be an office worker, I can empathize a great deal with her desire to change jobs for something that offers much more job satisfaction.  While my own dream role is far less physical than the one she took on, knowing that it is possible to make such a huge change leaves me feeling like being paid for writing is finally within my reach.

 

*Thanks to www.theartsdesk.com for their review of Rebuilding the World Trade Center, from which I have borrowed some of the quotes and information about Chantelle.  Read the full review here http://www.theartsdesk.com/tv/rebuilding-world-trade-center-channel-4

 

Inspirational Women: Introduction

Some time ago, I had an idea to blog about inspirational women.  Since I started my thirty-something crisis around eight years ago (yes, well before I hit 30), I have been looking for inspirational people around me, not only in those lucky enough to become famous for what they have done but also those more closer to home. The last couple of years, during my degree, one of the subjects I enjoyed studying was women’s literature.  Here I found not only inspirational women writers, but also inspirational female protagonists.  Since I am a woman, it makes sense that I focus on the inspirational female population for this blog category, because after what women have been through, from Eve being tricked into eating a poisoned apple in the Garden of Eden, to Madonna snogging Britney at The MTV Video Awards ten years ago, women have been blamed for a lot of shit.  This is why I believe it’s important to recognise those women who have inspired me, some in a small way, others in a huge way, not just as a nod to them, but to remind myself, especially as a woman who needs some inspiration right now (read http://wp.me/p2ayN0-tW if you need enlightening), that it is possible for women to achieve greatness.

While I hadn’t intended to give a nod to any particular woman in this introduction, I would like to mention that wonderful little girl in the 1980s TV advert for the A La Carte Kitchen, who by serving baked beans and Swiss roll to her daddy for breakfast in bed, proves that you can be inspirational at any age, particularly when seeking revenge on the opposite sex.  Maybe he should have bought her a toolkit for her birthday instead  😉

As Yet Untitled…Like My Life

People have been asking me why I haven’t blogged for a long time.  For some of my friends, it was a way of keeping up with my life, and if I was blogging it would be obvious I had some kind of issue to talk about but at least they would know I was alive.  I recently had a message from a friend saying I had been quiet on Facebook and the blog, and was I OK?!

I am OK in the polite answer of the word.  But lately I have been suffering with that unsettled feeling I’ve had for so many years now, one which every so often builds itself up so great to leave me feeling lost.  And I haven’t even graduated yet.  But after this Wednesday, I shall officially have graduated from the University of Lincoln, with a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree in American Studies.  The problem is, what has that degree given me, except £18,000 of debt and a reluctance to go back to work?

I’ve been doing temp work in an office since June.  The work is almost identical to what I did for 10 years before I went to university, and I have taken a 25% drop in salary, despite my rent costs tripling.  Friday was the last day of my twelve-week contract, and due to red tape I have been told not to go into work on Monday morning, until my boss’ boss authorises and signs the additional costs that my recruitment agency now want to charge the company I work for (although I won’t get paid anything extra).  While I originally thought I would start on a salary slightly higher than I was on when I quit my job in September 2011, as a temp, it was £6,000 less.  Although I was then told I would get that after completing a three-month probationary period and being taken on permanently, I am now informed that it won’t be as much as that, although it should be more than what I’m on now.  Why don’t I just come out and say it: £16,000.  Gutting since I left London in 1998 having earned £14,000.

While life is not about the money, not having money does make things difficult.  And since I left London in August 1998, I have gained 14 years’ administrative experience, not to mention four years of university education (so good I took my final year twice).  I can’t help feeling that perhaps my expectations have been too high, and that perhaps I am not worthy of earning more/having a better job.

Although I hope that I will get the call on Monday to say that the additional costs have been authorised, I know that my timekeeping issues may have an effect on whether they truly wish to keep me on.

As well as struggling with work, I have been internet dating (yes, I know going by past experience that was probably a disaster waiting to happen).  I’ve been on several dates, met some nice guys as well as some very strange guys, but still struggle to read situations.  I have had two dates with the same guy now, although I do not know whether this will progress into a relationship; I am inclined to think not.

Thinking about that, my stomach feels knotted.  I go through phases of wanting to just have fun until Mr. Right comes along, followed by the desire to only find Mr. Right.  At this current moment, I think I am coming to the end of the having fun phase, after realising that maybe I cannot cope with just having fun after all.

Recently, I’ve had that desire I used to get over the last two years; the desire to jump on a plane and get the hell out of here.  But I wonder if I would have the guts to do that now.  I can’t help feeling that while I made a great leap moving to London, perhaps I have started to crawl back into my shell, leaving my confidence, my hope and worst of all, my writing pad, out of reach.

Because I have barely written since moving to London.  I know why this is; I am ashamed to admit that I am still as lost in life as I ever was.  What started out as positivity towards the future has become doubt, and I worry that I may never become that which I hope to be.

While this blog post is a step back in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether I can follow it up with another.  I guess this means we all have to wait and see…