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.