I have been in the education field for nearly ten years. I kind of fell into the role of being a teacher as jobs linked to the education field run in the family, plus it seemed like a safe choice at the time. My parents often said to me and my brother when we were younger that they hoped that we’d get jobs with security; a steady income, pension plan etcetera. And as luck would have it, we both have, which of course pleases our parents considerably.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great moments in my career to date, and occasionally I experience sparks of inspiration and excitement with my job. But why do I feel numb about my future if teaching is still in it?
Prior to my graduation I went to a careers fair, where I recall feeling utterly overwhelmed by the mostly corporate things on offer (having studied a degree in Business and Economics – which I somehow also felt steered into). The one thing I did realise was that I wanted to do something which I felt had some sort of meaning, that gave me some justification for my existence.
Therefore I turned to teaching as a way to achieve this. Over the course of my career to date I have moved schools four times, with each new start I feel fresh and enthused only to find myself a few months down the line feeling fed up and frustrated. I have been slowly beaten down by the crap management, who are more concerned with numbers and statistics than staff and student wellbeing, and the sheer hypocrisy of some of the hoops that I am expected to jump through. I feel like a frigging performing animal. On top of this, it’s as though I am putting on this fake happy, smiley face and persona when at times I just want to scream and shout in people’s faces.
It has gotten to the point where I literally dread going to work and I find myself crying periodically both at home and when I am at work. But it’s not as though the kids are awful (like I have had experience of in the past), in fact they are wonderful! But still each day, I keep thinking the same thing, I am not happy.
I fear that I am turning into one of those people who exist in pretty much every organisation who simply moan at absolutely everything, and worse still drag others down with them. I often catch myself turning perfectly pleasant conversations into something work-related that often started about anything but. I hate those people!
What can I do to stop feeling this way?
Jump, the Performing Animal
Welcome to Adulthood!
A mystical land of wonder, confusion, a place which holds glimmers of hope and also some downright shitty times.
This land is filled with performing animals, that for one reason or another are more or less always on show. We are all to some extent doing our best performances; whether this is to loved ones, students, and often even to yourself. We all have to put our adult faces on for the world and get out there, sometimes when we really don’t want to or don’t believe in what we do.
The workplace is perhaps one of the strangest arenas for these performances as unlike with friends and family, you are getting paid when you go there. Aside from the financial benefits of being employed, in most workplaces you also get to hang out with people who you may not choose to co-exist with in the world outside.
The characters in this arena are a motley bunch including those who do the bare minimum, who turn up, do their thing and leave. There are also those who may care about their job, but don’t give a diddly-squat about some of the deeper shit that can go on in the workplace, like consideration of other people’s feelings. And then there are also some people who want their work to serve some greater purpose, for it to be fulfilling as well as being able to take the paycheck home.
And you, Jump appear to fit the criteria for the latter.
Forgive my seemingly odd digression and my focus on the roles that we play, but therein lies the crux of your dilemma.
You desire purpose.
Jobs can often suck and when they really suck or have prolonged sucky periods, everything about them can bleed into other orifices of your life. No wonder you feel beaten down by it all. Perhaps that’s why you want to scream and shout at people? You’re keeping a side of you locked away behind a barred door. And the longer you keep it locked tight, the louder the banging becomes. It’s when the door begins to bend and crack that there is a chance that it may break and with it our adult mask can fall.
Life according to many modern day standards is a tick-boxing exercise, you are expected to be able to do and have it all. Whatever that mysterious ALL is.
We seem to be forever told that we can find careers that are fulfilling, exciting, that give us purpose and our lives meaning, and can possibly pay shit-loads at the same time. Wouldn’t all of that be wonderful?
I am not saying that it isn’t possible, but that in itself is a fuckload of pressure!
I am sorry to burst that millennial bubble, but you will NEVER have a job let alone a career where you enjoy every aspect of it; it could be the workload, the irritating colleagues, your cramped/ugly office space, the lunches provided (I am assuming where you work has a canteen), or all of the above.
It would be too easy of me to blame your situation entirely on what appears to be your lack of motivation to leave your current profession, but it sounds like you are entirely in control but you need that extra kick. Clearly you feel like you would be letting your parents down if you did leave, so that stops you from seeking their guidance. But there other external sources of support available: friends, online groups, getting a careers coach?
What is stopping you from leaving teaching?
You say that you’ve moved around to a few different schools and are fed up with the same sort of annoying issues. Well then, make a plan! What do you like? What do you enjoy doing? What are your passions? I am serious! But in the meantime, do stuff you DO like, whether that is going out partying to your hearts content to detract from the deep festering unhappiness you feel in your working life, or reading about areas you ARE interested in, and CONNECT with some new people outside of teaching.
If your concern is more of financial necessity, still make that plan, but include reference to savings. If you have little to no savings, well that’s going to take a bit longer, but do what you can to actually save and then get out. Many people work more than one job to enable a move quicker. If that isn’t possible, volunteer, get an outlet where you can get back to your day job refreshed and engaged, even if you see those things as temporary fixes. But they are GOOD temporary fixes.
Which leads me to wonder if you are a betting person. You sound like someone who wants to be challenged intellectually but have up until this point stuck within those relatively safe boundaries instilled from your childhood. But perhaps it’s time to place a stake on some higher odds – ones that are bigger and bolder. Those odds can mean the difference between staying put or taking a leap into the big, scary unknown place known as life. But a life that could be that much better.
The only thing stopping you from doing anything else is you.