Is a Mid Life Crisis at 21 Possible?

Imagine at the age of 16, you were asked to decide on your future and everything that was about to happen. Imagine you had to decide the person you wanted to be for the next 50 years at such a young age. In reality, that’s what happened.

Throughout secondary school, you are constantly asked again and again “what do you want to do once you leave school”? Now, I had been through every job under the sun. All through primary school and mid secondary I was dead set on being a teacher. It was all I wanted. Then I hit about fourth year of secondary and decided that my love of admin was so great that I wanted an office job somewhere. This all changed when the school began pressing you to progress onto university so I thought “y’know what, I’d enjoy teaching because it’s a ‘real job'”.

The first couple of years at university were as enjoyable as they could be. I was at a university I only picked because it was close to home and they did the course in a year less than others. What more could you wish for?

The history part of my degree fascinated me. I enjoyed each module I took because of either the period of time it covered or the debates that took place in each class. However, being made to write essays on specific topics that didn’t interest you or having to force yourself to study for an exam made me love it less. History became a chore as opposed to an interest.

I kept thinking that everything would be fine and I would end up enjoying teaching. It wasn’t unti my Grandpa said something that I had to have a really good think:

You’ll be doing that job for at least 50 years so you better enjoy it!

Fifty years is a long time to be doing something that you aren’t 100% into. It would mean my work would be my life and I would feel stuck in a job that wasn’t a passion anymore.

I realised that the lifestyle wasn’t for me. I began to dread anything teacher related and cringed when I got called “Miss”. My mindset had completely changed from the beginning when I was so excited to become the person I had dreamed of being for what seemed like forever.

In the end, what I realised was that I didn’t want to be back in a school to teach but I really wanted to be back as a pupil. Those carefree days in the building you associated with seeing your friends and having a giggle up the back of your history class. But that’s not what teaching is.

People think teaching is easy. They see the holidays and think that it’s all sunshine and daisies. Okay the holidays are pretty decent and the pay is good but is it really worth it all?

Teaching to me was having to get up in the dark and getting home in the dark. It was long commutes where I fell asleep against the window of the train. It was the constant anxiety that I wasn’t good enough and the pupils weren’t learning what they needed to learn. It was getting home at 6pm and having to go to bed at 8pm because you were exhausted from the busy day. It was not getting to see your friends because you were just too tired and too busy to communicate. It was letting your work consume you until you were no longer a person. It was wishing for the weekend when it was only Sunday night. It was me being someone different, someone unhappy.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed some aspects of teaching. When the pupils got interested and excited it made you feel so good about yourself. I even had my history tutor thank me for getting her son so interested in history with my lessons. The pupils were what made teaching fun and interesting. The planning, the preparation, the long hours, the sleepless nights, the paperwork, the guidelines, the do’s and don’ts, the government and the curriculum were all not so much fun.

I understand it is probably a decision I will grow to regret at some point but right now, this is what I want. There are paths I can go if I really want to get back into teaching really badly but I can cross that bridge if it ever occurs.

For now, I am applying for college and jobs to give me something. I’m still able to use my university degree as a gateway to jobs in museums and historical related roles (which all seem to be really attractive to me). If nothing comes up, I can try force myself through my probation year of teaching and see how it goes. I have a strong head on my shoulders and I know that I can make it work somehow.

I am learning that I don’t need to justify my choices because it is my life and I can make my own decisions. It’s been something that’s played on my mind for so long and I am finally starting to feel like myself again.

 

 

20’s Plenty

Midnight. September 5th, 2015 had struck. I had officially turned 20 years old.

I never thought it would bother me. It was just another year and another birthday where nothing would change except the age that appeared on my Facebook profile.

This year was a little different than that.

I’d say I’ve been through a lot this year, maybe not as much as others but it has definitely been eventful.

It took me until the age of 20 to realise that I should never do anything to purely make myself appealing to a guy that I had feelings for. I should never change who I am in order for that one person to find me mildly appealing.

My younger self used to believe that the only purpose we had to life was to find someone to care and love us and that was it. I have such a different outlook on life now. It hit me hard that, I’m actually better on my own. When I was with someone, I became even more of a worrier than I usually was. I worried that they weren’t texting me back because they didn’t like me, I worried they would rather be with someone else and I worried that I secretly was not good enough for them.

Turning 20 changed all that. I realised that I have had guys attracted to me before and I am not as “unlovable” as I used to make out. I have this new found confidence where, if a guy I like doesn’t like me back or stops talking to me, then I say goodbye and move on in my life instead of crying about not being good enough.

It was also the point in my life where I realised that I am now officially an adult and that it’s time to grow up. I need to start focusing even more on university than I already had been. It’s taken 3 years now but I finally found a group of friends at university that I am proud to call my friends and they’ve helped me a lot so far. Having others go through the same stress and worries helps everything even just that little bit. The worries start to slowly leave you one by one.

The next thing that hit me was that toxic people need to go. I can’t continue to pretend to like people that could potentially do more harm than good. I’m beginning to grow a backbone where I now have an opinion on people and I’m not going to hold back. If I’m not happy, I’ll have my say, even if that means an argument. I’m no longer the girl who could be stepped over for being so “innocent and nice”.

Going through nearly 5 years of absolute hell with constant anxiety and depression then coming out the other end has made me such a strong woman (to me, I’m still a little girl). It took so much time and effort but I finally got myself through it in one piece. I feel like I could conquer the world if I put all my effort into it.

It took me 20 years to become confident with not only my appearance but also who I am as a person. It took me 20 years to learn that it’s okay for people to not like you and it’s even more okay to end things if something isn’t going as well as you first thought. As selfish as it sounds, I need to start putting my own happiness before others. I should never risk my own happiness in order to keep someone else happy.

 

SANTA??? I KNOW HIM!!

If you are as unemployable as I am, you will understand the feeling of applying to each part time job that appears before your eyes on-line. Retail, waitressing, bar work – the list goes on. I even applied for the job as a christmas elf at the grotto in my local shopping centre for a laugh (as well as to say to people I was honestly still looking for a job).

Imagine my surprise when I get phoned for an interview. The interview consisted of a few questions and was a fairly regular which resulted in me being invited to a further interview. This then led to me being invited for a trial shift a few weeks later.

For the past 2 weeks or so, I have been a full time christmas elf at the grotto. In all honesty, I’ve learned so much from that job when I thought I would learn nothing. I obviously learned the usual basics such as using the till and operating the camera software but I also learned much more about people as well as myself.

  1. Frozen has taken over the world. I’ll admit that, for the past year, I have boycotted watching Frozen. I never have watched it and I never will. I just don’t want to simply because I don’t want to give into this hipster Disney hype that has sprung up. However, in this job, it seems vital that you watch Frozen at least once. Most of the girls visiting the grotto would ask for some form of Frozen gift from dresses to dressing tables. I couldn’t get over how one simple movie has morphed these children into being dressed head-to-toe in merchandise as well as begging for other items.
  2. Kids still play with toys I loved. I loved it when the kids would come in and they would ask for things like Lego, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Barbie merchandise. It made me realise that times may have changed but kids are still encouraged to play with items that my brothers and I would adore and ask for for christmas. Hearing this made me realise that there are some kids who aren’t those annoying ones begging for an Xbox, iPad AND new phone. There was even one girl asking for a yo-yo and a skipping rope!
  3. Stop spoiling your kids. I understand parents want to ensure that their kids have the best christmas ever, but is showering them with expensive gifts really going to make that happen? Sometimes I felt like saying to them that spoiling them with all these gifts is just going to make them more ungrateful when they are older as well as expecting something much bigger the year after and the year after. I mean, I witnessed 5 year olds asking for iPhones and Xbox’s or even both. (Don’t want to play that card but) when I was younger, we got a Wii between us as our main present – don’t think I would have dreamed of asking for my own as opposed to simply sharing one with my brothers.
  4. Parents are worse than their kids. When I had to keep the queue occupied with copious amounts of chocolate and paper hats that sliced your hands, I learned that the most patient were in fact the kids. The parents would complain the minute they joined the queue even though they were aware of the waiting time. I guess the kids were just far too excited to see Santa but surely the parents would make sure they didn’t ruin the experience by being so impatient and causing a scene.
  5. Kids facial expressions are the best. You would be using the usual script you had been saying for days (“Excited for christmas? Been good? Excited for Santa? etc etc etc) and the kids would be looking a tad excited but once they opened the door and saw Santa – wow. Their little faces would light up and this huge grin would appear on their faces as if they had just seen something magical (when in fact it was a retired 65 year old man who had nothing better to do with his time). It was so amazing. However, there was also the other side where the kids were terrified and this look of panic mixed with horror would overcome them as they ran for the exit.
  6. Selfish parents are the most annoying. I don’t think parents understand that if your kid is terrified of Santa and you force them in a small enclosed room, then they are not only going to freak out but they may also be scarred for life. One of the other employees told me that there was an adult terrified of people dressed up and discovered it was because they were forced to visit Santa. All some parents seem to want is a photo and I could never quite understand why they would want a photo of their child crying their eyes out in terror.
  7. It actually didn’t feel like work. Honestly, for the majority of the time, it didn’t feel like a job at all. It felt like I was choosing to be there to the point I forgot I was even getting paid for it. Even the work it involved wasn’t anything extremely difficult or tiring – you either kept the queue occupied, worked the camera in the grotto, made the photo gifts or worked the till. Knowing that you were making a kid feel the magic of christmas made up for the 7 hour shifts (almost daily). Not only seeing their faces light up but even how excited they got about the fact Santa could use a magic key to get into their chimney-free house. We even stayed open half an hour later because there was a single dad who only got too see his daughter that one day – he was so grateful.

Working there has definitely helped give me confidence as well as realise that working with kids (in any age range) is what I want to do as a career. I may have been laughed at by people I know walking by and have a strange guy hit on me two days but it was definitely worth it. (Got told by a fellow employee that there is such a thing as an “elf fetish” which is far too strange for me).

It was something that kept me busy during my winter break, the chance to socialise with other people and obviously a part time job that is a little different from the few i’ve had.

You can all keep your retail christmas jobs because I can guarantee you that mine was far less stressful because I got to make sure kids had a smile on their face and a great experience meeting the jolly old man himself.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road?

Do you ever feel like you’ve made wrong choices in life? That you’ve taken the wrong path and you’ll never have the chance to get off it? You are stuck on that path from the moment you leave high school until the moment you take your last breath?

We were told to start thinking about life after high school at least 2 years prior to our last day. For me, that was not helpful at all. It was just far too soon.

For as long as I can remember, at different points in my life, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. More specifically, a primary school teacher. I would look up to Miss Honey from Matilda and see this magical woman who had the ability to make anything fun and interesting. I would make my younger brother play “Teachers” with me where i’d make him do work and i’d grade it. I would tell everyone how excited I was that I would be a teacher.

Once I got to high school, around 3rd year, that all changed. I realised that children weren’t what I was interested in. It became apparent that I was doing extremely well in my Administration class: I was finishing the work the fastest, getting the best grades in the class and even got the award for my year. Doing admin work involved me, on my own, getting on with the required tasks. I would put my earphones in and drift away into my own little word while battling on through the heavy workload.

My good admin grades as well as the enjoyment I found in it made me steer towards a career in admin. I found different college courses I could apply to which could help me achieve the further grades needed for a little cosy office job where I could work my way up to a higher position if I wanted to.

Once I told my parents, they were not the happiest. They had heard me say I wanted to teach for so long that, once I broke the news to them that their little girl wanted to be a secretary, they started telling me it wasn’t a “real job”. I felt so much pressure to find a job that they saw as “real”. I now realise that it was my decision. It was my life.

It was so difficult. Until one day, my dad asked me what I enjoyed. At that point in time, I adored history. I may not have been the best at it but I was so engrossed in the subject to the point I would research Russian history in my spare time. Once I told my dad this, he asked me why I had never thought to teach the subject. At that moment, I thought “you know what, I could do that. If my history teacher can do it then so can I”. I have never been so wrong in my life. Well, maybe. I’m not too sure.

Anyway, I then applied for universities with the feeling i’d never get in – my 5th year grades were definitely not anything worthy of university. As a back up, I also applied for college courses on social sciences just in case.

I don’t think I have ever felt that level of stress and pressure in my life. It was the most horrific year of my life in terms of stress. Jeez, I even got a twitchy eye that was diagnosed as being “stress related”. I missed parties so I could study, I hardly ate anything as well as breaking down in front of teachers in tears telling them how I was struggling. There was a dream, so close that I could almost grab it, yet my exams were the one thing standing in my way.

Guess you could say that the blood, sweat and tears paid off because I got the grades I needed for a university place! I had 3/5 offers so chose Stirling as my first then Edinburgh as my second (this was before I completely fell head over heels in love with the city of Edinburgh). Stirling made more sense because my course would be 4 years instead of 5 and it was also slightly closer to home.

I’ll always remember people’s reactions to my university acceptance. The results came through, by text, at about 3am. I couldn’t sleep so stayed up watching Modern Family and the minute they came through I started uncontrollably crying. Finally, I had made something of myself. The first person in my family to apply and be accepted into university. My mum and dad were over the moon (even if they had been woken up in the middle of the night). However, I was seeing a guy at the time (who was a few years older) and when I told him, he just didn’t seem to care. It was as if my achievements meant nothing to him. I got cards and a couple little presents to congratulate me on my success from friends and family which made it all seem real.

My first year saw it hit me, straight in the face, that this might not be for me. All those years of watching Matilda and Waterloo Road had not prepared me for what was about to come. I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I would dread each day because I would be with people who had moved out, made lots of new friends and were loving their courses. Yeah, I had made some friends but I was just so used to having old friends that I had known for years – it was hard to adjust to this whole new life I had to lead.

I’m now in my second year and I don’t even know if anything has changed. We had a go at micro-teaching (teaching a class of about 10 pupils for 25 minutes) and I enjoyed the first class but the second and third made me reconsider if I was doing the right thing.  The children would ask me questions and it would make realise how awful I actually am at history. The worst one yet had to be forgetting the dates of World War II (how stupid, as a history teacher, can you possibly be?!). Don’t even get me started on discipline! That’s the part i’m dreading the most. Hormonal teenagers who hate school are the age I detest. Why do I want to subject my life to that?

Our first proper placement is coming up at the beginning of January and it’s going to be in a primary school. I’m worried that i’ll realise that it is much more fun and exciting and that I should teach primary instead. Actually, it’s terrifying me.

The thought that my plans are changing scare me. Change is not something I cope well with at all. I’d have probably dropped out of university months ago if I had not feared change so much. I wanted to be the one who had her life all sorted until the very end but it’s not looking so likely any more.

I guess I feel that choosing to train as a history teacher was me choosing my path. Now that I have chosen that path, I cannot change onto any other path without it meaning that all my previous studying, stress and hard work have meant nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m stuck on this never ending path, through a degree that i’m scared isn’t for me and ending up in a lifelong job which isn’t for me. It feels like all those stress filled high school days have been the biggest waste of time, all because I chose the wrong path.

Fin?

Today, i had nothing much to do so decided that i would check out the documentary Blackfish about Tilikum the Orca as well as Seaworld and the treatment of whales. This whale has been said to have killed three humans while others have said that she did not.

When i went to the park in Florida the other year, it felt like such a magical place full of happy trainers and animals. It was such an amazing experience and i never thought anything different about it.

This documentary has shown me the other side to this park. The idea that these whales are confined to such a small space for roughly two thirds of their life is terrifying. They have no space to move or even swim properly which is not beneficial to the creature in the slightest.

What makes it even worse is the idea that Seaworld has taken on this whale that they knew was dangerous to people. This is just endangering their own trainers as well as the other people who come in contact with. It has the ability to drag a trainer into the water and rip their arm off – surely something should be done to ensure that this does not happen again? There has been reported more than seventy attacks on trainers. The footage shown in the documentary is horrific.

I must admit that i am not a huge animal lover but i have never felt so much emotion towards a species in my life. These whales did not ask for such a thing – they would dream of the chance to swim in the ocean with their families in an open space and not in a tiny enclosure where they have no space to move. I feel like Seaworld are extremely idiotic for continuing to breed Tilikum who was known for being such a vicious whale.

I agree that having the chance to experience animals up close is an amazing opportunity but once you see how they are being treated as well as how they act towards trainers then it is not worth it. It is not worth keeping whales in captivity if they have the ability to endanger the life of a human or even fellow whales.

No Dress Code Stated

One thing (among many) that annoys me is the different reactions to a naked body of a male or a female. When faced with a half naked/naked woman on a calendar, it is seen as something which is disrespectful to women yet when it is the body of a man, not one person would bat an eyelid. Surely, it should be the same for both genders?

It seems to be that in this society, it is okay for a woman to ‘disrespect’ a man in such a way but the moment a man holds the image of a woman in a calendar or a newspaper then they are seen as ‘perverted’ or ‘disgusting’. Is it not possible for us to tell a woman that she is ‘perverted’ for looking at the picture of a half naked man? For some reason, people think that it’s okay for a woman to objectify the body of a male but not that of a female.

This is when i have to say that if woman truly want equality, then maybe they should not be so judgemental when they see a man with a calendar of a naked woman when they themselves have a calendar of a ‘fireman’ with no clothes on. I feel that there is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin so if someone has the courage to pose for a calendar with only their underwear then good on them! It’s brilliant that they have built up the courage to do such a thing and if it does not hurt anyone in any way then there is no harm in it. It just annoys me when it is seen as wrong for woman to pose for calendars while it is the norm for a male to pose.

(I also understand that there are people of the same gender who would look at images, i just didn’t know how to state that throughout.)

It’s All About You

A little thing that is getting on my nerves these days is the view on body image.

Why do people seem to think that when someone is unhappy with their weight, it is to do with trying to impress a guy/girl? Can it not be possible for someone to want to be thinner purely because they want to feel better about themselves?

Let people be who they want to be unless it hurts them or anyone around them. People can be whatever shape or size they wish to be and it is not always about trying to impress someone. Yeah, there are some people who feel like the guy that they like will only like them back if they lose a couple pounds but there are people out there who want to feel comfortable about themselves.

Stop making out that all people want to do is attract other people. It brings other people down about themselves even more.