If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s this: I love my job.
Rewind back to 2010; I was an awkward teenager who struggled with feeling as though I belonged to any friendship group, constantly seeking people’s approval and I felt like a failure, always needing reassurance. I decided that I wanted to become a doctor. Just writing that line makes me cringe. The reason why I cringe is not because I think being a doctor is a negative thing, because I admire all the health services and am extremely grateful to them (especially right now) but the truth of the matter is that the decision was never my own; Daddy issues had planted that one in my head. I was told that I would be of worth if I pursued a career in Medicine (FYI now that I have grown up, I’ve realised that my dad has no concept of feeling and he really had no idea that could ever actually affect me. He isn’t deliberately cruel).
After taking Chemistry and Biology and flunking them both pretty badly, I sat at the sixth form computers trying not to cry as I filled out my UCAS application, knowing that I would never be able to achieve grades AAB in those subjects. Feeling like I had failed, my head of sixth form – always one who loved to help – asked me to forget what job I thought I should do and asked what I loved to do. I replied instantly, ‘read and write’ but course could I do with that? I remember him laughing and saying ‘English Literature!’. All at once it became extremely obvious and I don’t think he’ll ever realise how thankful I am for him helping me that day.
Fast forward to 2013, and I happily graduated with a English Literature and Creative Writing BA Hons. Leaving made me realise that my dream job and what I felt like I would be one day was an Author, however, at the time funding for a masters degree was not available, I found that I needed to find a job whilst I wrote – as a naive 21 year old, I believed that writing a book would only take a year.
I decided to Teach. Having struggled for years with my own sense of self-worth, rather than take my own advice, I thought would focus on making sure others never felt the way I did. I decided on teaching the Primary years, definitely not Secondary. I find that my anxiety primarily around people and the idea of talking to people aged 15 years and over scared the life out of me – working with adults was hard enough. Besides, when I was younger, most of my make-believe games would centre around teaching and making my poor younger brother and sister sit through countless registers and lessons, so I thought being such a people-pleaser would help me thrive at this job.
Many people seem to think that teaching is an easy job where you turn up at 9am and leave at half 3. I won’t bore you with the realities of a Teacher’s life, everyone has their own opinions – I know that every job has their stresses in many different ways and this is something I have learnt over the past 6 years after having non-serious arguments with my husband as we bicker about who is more tired or stressed from their day, but my reality and my own opinion is that teaching is hard.
Teaching is overwhelming. It is constant. Stressful. A juggling act. I am an encyclopaedia for everything. I am not just a teacher, I am a dentist, a nutritionist, a doctor, a therapist, a friend, a comfort, an outlet for children to shout at, an artist, a mathematician, a historian, a disciplinarian, a family member. The list could go on, but it is also magical, fulfilling fun, imaginative, childish, lovable, challenging, eye opening and wonderful .
I was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression this year and in that time, I realised my job had been taking over my life for a number of years, the anxiety I felt had created this increasing negativity over my job.Now I am coping better with the fact that I know I never leave work at the door; I worry constantly that my children, the parents and my colleagues will think things of me that I have no control over and I recognise that most of the time, anxiety has cause cause me to make these things up in my head.
I think I have moaned most days about my job – not the children or the actual teaching – but the parts you are never told whilst training. I have sat and pondered what other jobs I could do to get out of this stressful environment and cried when my children have disclosed something awful to me or a parent has doubted me and made me feel so small, but on the day – Wednesday 18th March – when the schools were told to close for the indefinite future during the pandemic crisis, I cried.
I cried hard. I hadn’t been able to cry for a month since I had started taking anti depressants and it was like a plug had been taken out. My job meant a lot more to me than I realised.
It’s a been a week now in isolation and the one thing I have realised is that I am so grateful to have my job as a teacher. I’m not saying I will never moan again as that just wouldn’t be English (or human) but this time away has really put into perspective what’s important to me and through the highs and lows, how much I love my job.