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.